1923 Lee 2015

Lee H. Timmen

July 15, 1923 — January 18, 2015

Lee Henry Timmen, Jr., slipped out of this world January 18, 2015, at the too-young age of 91, leaving behind a tangible void impossible to fill. Born in Chinook, WA, on July 15, 1923, to Lee and Carrie Timmen, he grew up to epitomize the town he lived in, being a most honorable, thoughtful, intelligent, generous hometown man, who enjoyed his intimate and extended family, friends, and the town itself. At the age of 19, he left home to enlist in the Navy aboard a destroyer, the USS Baldwin, joining Eldon Slagle and Lawrence Prest also from the peninsula. Lee miraculously survived the Normandy D-Day invasion in World War II, suffering shrapnel cuts and losing comrades, keeping a diary of those days' horrific events. He returned to Normandy in 1995 with his son Jeff and grandson Lee, visiting the graves of his fellow patriots, including "Trooper" Davis of Chinook. Honorably discharged in 1945, he returned to Chinook and married his high school sweetheart, Josephine Fischer, subsequently raising six children while earning a living as a crab and salmon fisherman, and as a fish buyer for the Chinook Packing Company. In addition, he built the house the family grew up in on Valley Street (formerly known as the Cannery Road), along with building four fishing boats, the Terrine, the Scavenger, the Harbor Bell, and the Genoa. (The Genoa was eventually sold and was used in the film "Promises to Keep" starring Robert Mitchum) Some of the boats were built with his building partner and friend, Dan Olsen, a fellow Chinooker. They used a unique wood building technique very few people today have the knowledge or skill to master. Lee was a respected figure in the community, having served on the Chinook School Board, and as a volunteer fireman. In the 1950s he worked long hours for the summer Salmon Derbys which drew hundreds of people to the tiny community, overflowing its streets and services. The children grew up digging clams, making forts in the driftlogs on the beach, and earning money at the summer jobs provided by the overflow of tourists, an idyllic environment for his family. In 1965 Lee decided to try something new and purchased the Shell Service station in Chinook. However, the 9 to 5 hours wore on him and after a few years he returned to the sea, selling the station to his nephew Dale Hughes. Though Lee enjoyed the atmosphere of a small town environment, travel was very important to him and he always encouraged his children to travel. After retiring, he and Josephine spent three months navigating throughout Europe and Egypt, a trip of a lifetime as he explained it. He later purchased a timeshare in Maui that he and Jo enjoyed several weeks a year, for many years, with their children and grandchildren joining them from time to time. He told stories about his friendship with Don Ho, an iconic Hawaiian singer of the time. One year, he asked Don to sing "Tiny Bubbles" to his 100-year-old aunt over the phone. Don Ho was one of several relatively famous people Lee met and befriended throughout his life. Another celebrity he was acquainted with through the service was Henry Fonda and he often told the story of meeting Henry's little daughter Jane and patting her on the head. He also told of shaking hands with Eisenhower, and of meeting Churchill, Mohammed Ali, and Richard Pryor. He also remembered meeting Admiral "PT" Bulkeley and listening to the tale of Bulkeley's rescue of MacArthur, upon which a movie was later based. In his later years, Lee's days were filled with family visits, car rides, casino trips, and coffee meet-ups which usually involved exchanging clever barbs with his brother-in-law Trophy Hughes and other locals. Lee enjoyed telling his anecdotes but mostly he enjoyed making people laugh and was extremely quick witted. It is with sad regret that we no longer will be hearing his jokes and stories. He is survived by his children: Terrie Joplin (Jerry) Greensboro, NC; Janine Meyers, Battle Ground, WA; Malinda Wheeler ( Lyle) Las Vegas, NV; Barbara Ellsworth, Sumner, WA; Jeffrey Timmen ( Penny) San Diego, CA; Rebecca Timmen, Tumwater, WA; grandchildren: Aaron Joplin, Melissa Joplin Higley ( Kevin), Eric Meyers, Chad Meyers ( Emma), Heather Meyers Brundage (Paul), Amanda Wheeler, Dena Ellsworth Kleffner (Dan), Adam Ellsworth, Lee C. Timmen, Charlene Timmen, Breanna Heinrich, Kassandra Heinrich; and greatgrandchildren: Lauren Joplin, Milo Higley, Ariana, Kaelyn, and Capri Brundage, Jack Meyers, Kylie Kleffner along with twin Kleffner boys, due to arrive in March. There are also numerous nieces and nephews and other extended family members. His wife Josephine preceded him in death in 1994. His two sisters, Carolyn Ciaffoni and Rhoda Hughes, brothers-in-law Tony Ciaffoni and Trophy Hughes, are also deceased along with several other family members. A memorial to celebrate Lee's life will be held Saturday, May 2nd at the Chinook School Gymnasium. All of Lee's family and friends are invited to attend. Donations in his memory may be made to Friends of Chinook School, PO Box 243, Chinook, WA 98614. Lee's online guestbook may be signed at www.penttilaschapel.com.

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