Phil Williamson

ipPhilip Nolan Williamson died May 4, 2003 of lung cancer at his home in Coupeville. He was born Aug. 15, 1927, in Tacoma to Thurman and Madeleine Katzenberger Williamson. Following his mother’s death when he was one, his father moved Phil and his sister Virginia to Yakima. He was raised by his father and step-mother in Yakima, where he got his first job as a newsboy at the age of 10.

After the death of his father in 1942, when he was nearly 15, he lied about his age and joined the Navy. He served in one of the first underwater demolition teams that cleared a number of beachheads in the South Pacific. This was at a time when scuba gear hadn’t been invented, and the UDT teams wore tennis shoes instead of fins. He also served with underwater demolition teams during the Korean War. In addition he served on a number of surface vessels and two diesel fleet submarines, ending his career as an electronics technician chief petty officer on the Polaris nuclear submarine the Thomas Edison. He met and married his wife, the former Rowena Leach, while serving on the Edison in Groton, Conn.

He received a degree in engineering at Healds College in San Francisco and at graduation was hired by Varian Associates, where he was an international liaison officer and export manager until he retired in 1991. During the years he lived in San Jose, Calif., he was active in civic and environmental groups, and developed a love of bridge that lasted the rest of his life. At the time of his death Phil was a member of the Oak Harbor Duplicate Bridge Club and was a regional master.

After moving to Coupeville in December of 1990 Phil became involved in various civic volunteer groups and was serving his second term as Town Councilman when he died. He took his position very seriously and tried to do what he thought best for the town. He was a member of Coupeville Lions Club and VFW. He enjoyed making furniture and the Williamson home has book cases and a Shaker dresser and bench he built. He made each of his sons a dovetailed chest. He began work on his genealogy which led to the discovery of his long-lost sister and her family.

Phil joined the Scottish American Military Society, where one of his great thrills was carrying the American flag through massed pipe bands, dressed in his Clan Gunn kilt.

He will be remembered by his many friends and relations for his wicked sense of humor and the ridiculous, his willingness to speak out for what he believed in, his sensible patriotism, his love of western movies, and “all that Scottish stuff.” He liked music, especially Baroque, Scottish and bluegrass. He delighted in engaging in verbal duels and skewering over-inflated egos.

He leaves behind Rowena, his wife of 42 years, his sons Philip II of Coupeville and Andrew of Seattle, and many loving friends and relatives. He also leaves us with a host of wonderful memories.

Donations may be made to town of Coupeville Memorial Fund or Friends of Home Health and Hospice. A memorial celebration will be held in June.

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