Henry “Hank” Koetje, age 95, lifelong Oak Harbor resident, World War II combat survivor and businessman, passed away on Sunday, April 14, 2019 at Summer Hill Assisted Living, surrounded by his family.
Mr. Koetje was born in Oak Harbor, Wash., on Sept. 29, 1923, to Ben and Hattie (Meeter) Koetje. He attended Oak Harbor schools, graduating from Oak Harbor High School in 1941. Hank attended the University of Wyoming and the University of Washington.
Hank was drafted into the U.S. Army and served during World War II. On Christmas Eve 1944, Hank was on the troop ship SS Leopoldville. They were crossing the English Channel en route to Cherbourg, France, when the ship was struck by a German torpedo. Over 800 perished in the disaster. Hank, one of the survivors, became a recipient of the Bronze Star Medallion.
When he returned from the war, Hank founded the Koetje Real Estate and Insurance Agency. In 1957, he and his partners started Island Savings and Loan, which later became Interwest Savings Bank. He was also instrumental in the founding of Island Title.
He was a member of the Whidbey Presbyterian Church, where he sang in the choir and held the office of an elder. Hank was a great sports fan. His favorite sport to play was tennis.
He thoroughly enjoyed watching the Mariners, his beloved Huskies, and the Seahawks. He was a member of the American Legion, Navy League, VFW and Rotary.
Hank was an accomplished world traveler.
Hank was married to Evelyn Dykstra, and the couple had three children, Gary, who passed away at the age of 10, from leukemia, Gail, and Mike. He later married Marilyn (Korthuis) Kincaid, in 1987 .
Hank is survived by his wife, Marilyn, of Oak Harbor; his daughter, Gail Neil (Bruce), of Seattle, Wash.; son, Mike Koetje (Mary), of Snohomish, Wash.; stepdaughter, Debra Friedly (Howard), of Olympia; two stepsons, Douglas Smith (Robin), of Lynden, and Dwayne Korthuis-Smith (Wendy), of Mercer Island; his grandchildren, Chad Neil, Shaura Larson, Josh, Derek and Nicole Koetje, Adam Smith, Katie Tadema, Courtney Smith, Lauren Spicer, Grace and Claire Korthuis-Smith and numerous great-grandchildren; his brother, Al Koetje (Sherita), of Oak Harbor; his sister, Burleigh Smith (Garry), of Marrowstone Island; his half-brother James Koetje (Balisa), of Mount Vernon, Wash.; his half-sister, Kathy Bos (Stan) of Sunnyside, Wash.; also, numerous nieces, nephews and other relatives. He was preceded in death by his son, Gary, his sister, Louise Jensen, and by his brother, Les Koetje.
A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. Sunday, April 28, 2019 at Whidbey Presbyterian Church, Pastor Jon Draskovich officiating.
Military Honors will be presented by the U.S. Army Honor Guard, Fort Lewis. Private interment will take place at Maple Leaf Cemetery. Memorials can be made to Whidbey Presbyterian Church.
Family and friends are encouraged to share memories and condolences at www.whidbeymemorial.com