Life on Whidbey: ‘Bags’ Bagarella: catch him if you can


By Eileen Brown

I had to rub my eyes on seeing an email from him. When does he have time? Just let me say you won’t find any moss growing on the khaki-covered backside of Navy Master Chief FRANCIS “BAGS” BAGARELLA.

This top banana in the enlisted ranks may intimidate some sailors when they are tapped to do a dirty job, but they know helping people recover from recent floods is the right thing to do and they may receive written thanks for their community service.

When Bags met BILL BASL, Americorps Director for Washington state in Olympia on Jan. 7, he asked Bags for his help. Naturally, Bags said he’d be honored, so his work party left Oak Harbor at 4:30 a.m. Jan. 21 for a Day of Service. This tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. would see them help restore Rainbow Falls State Park in Lewis County. Many of the homes and facilities in the park were destroyed by high winds and flooding.

Of the 25 junior sailors who worked that day, all were unmarried except for Petty Officer CHRISTOPHER PERSON. He brought along his wife TAMMY and their two daughters, FELICIA and CHRISTINA.

Someone has to get the mud from boots and gear out of the Navy van, right? Stand by, volunteers.

One for each family member

On an earlier trip to the governor’s mansion in Olympia on Jan. 7, Bags met with DIANE SMALL of Oak Harbor, project chairperson; VFW Ladies Auxiliary National President VIRGINIA CARMAN; the governor’s husband MIKE GREGOIRE; and Basl to discuss “Project Protect.” Small, on behalf of American Preparedness, presented 50 of the 72-hour, one-person emergency and disaster preparedness kits to the governor’s first mate to help in the Lewis County disaster. 

What’s in a kit? Food, water, thermal blanket, body and hand warmers, poncho, flashlight, whistle, light sticks, hygiene pack, first aid pack and deck of cards.

Small said they presented 150 kits last weekend. “We are making great progress getting donations and sponsorships for the 40,000 kits needed to prepare all junior enlisted people and their families throughout Washington. Of this total, 5,500 are needed at NAS Whidbey.”

Other local benefactors helping provide kits to junior personnel are Wal-Mart and P&L Construction. “Fleet and Family Support Center and Wal-Mart have pledged to provide us with additional funding for several hundred more kits,” Small added.

Master Chief Bagarella praised Small for her support of our junior military men and women. You can help them reach their goal. Call Small at 675-5387 or 914-0319, or drop an email to dp

The face is familiar

Yes, you know her, but where have you seen her? Let me give you a hint.

BETSY ZINK spent 20 years as the accessories buyer at Whidbey Furniture. Before that, she worked for a Hallmark store, so she knows her job.

With the resignation of SUZIE LONG, Island Drug’s former giftware manager, word got around they were looking for a replacement.

Betsy is going to be good for business. She’s going to the giftware show in Seattle soon, and is already familiar with many companies.

Betsy’s parents, Navy Captain DICK and NANCY ZICK, live in Oak Harbor. He retired in 1980 as Chief of Staff.

Right now, the glass shelves are full of product, but not one piece touches another. “We’re working with what is here,” she said, asking if she wanted her to look for anything in particular at market.

Things I like to give and receive are vintage picture frames with faux jewels, dry mixes to use in dips and sips, anything chai and chocolate truffles.

Snow kidding

Why do meteorologists tease us? We know it almost never snows at sea level but I distinctly heard, “One to four inches in Oak Harbor.” I even stayed up late to catch the wintry sight.

I know it’s not an exact science, but I wonder who gives them their information. These six Web sites have similar forecasts: snow and then some rain and some snow. Check them out for yourself:,,, (updated hourly), (live camera over Oak Harbor) and our own Oak Harbor First United Methodist Church,, has a weather report on its stylish webpage.

Call me with your news bites. I’ll do the rest. See you again on Feb. 6. Write to or call 675-6611.