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A Guide to a

Fulfilling Senior Life

in Whatcom County

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

What’s Inside.... This past basketball season, Dick Stark wrapped up, maybe, a career of more than 50 years in local radio sports broadcasting. Read his account on C6. Sylvia Boss, trained in classical music at Juilliard, has found her way to Lynden and into the Wednesday noon music rotation at the Jansen Art Center. See page C8.

Jean Dawkins strums one of his Fender Jaguar guitars near a case full of them in his Lynden Manor room. At age 85, Jean’s life is a story of “music by ear,” even though he is legally deaf. See full story on page C3.

A supplement of the Lynden Tribune and Ferndale Record


Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Ferndale Record


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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Ferndale Record

Jean Dawkins has always had an ear for music ... ... even though he's been legally deaf from birth By Calvin Bratt

    LYNDEN ­— Music has always had

a way of sticking with Jean Dawkins. He hears a song once, and it is forever registered on his mind. He can play it by ear in the future.    And how can that be ... when he has been legally deaf from birth?    Neither Dawkins nor his family can exactly figure out this conundrum. They just know the reality that once he grasps something — he can hear, just not very well — it’s there to stay.    He went through this experience in school, and not just in music: “You’re already faster than the teacher — get out of here,” he would be told.    “I could see things nobody could see. But I couldn’t hear,” he tries to explain. “I played music my whole life, by ear.” He knows it’s “weird” and he doesn’t understand it either. “I learned fast,” he concludes.    So this characteristic means Jean Dawkins has accumulated quite a repertoire of music in his head, ready to be performed at the drop of a hat, or a dime.    Definitely his instrument of choice is guitar, although Jean can also play both piano and organ, ukulele, harmonica, banjo and drums.    He can read music, but that is not his preference. “It’s music,” he emphasizes. “I’d rather do it the way I feel it.”    In his early years, Jean was doing musical entertaining from California to Alaska. According to story, the club owner at one stop in Alaska put out the challenge that “if anyone can stump Jean with a song that he can’t perform, that person can eat and drink free all night.” One person partially stumped Dawkins and got one french fry and a thimble full of Jack Daniels.    Another story is that in the 1960s he was playing a club in the Mount St. Helens area, while living in Vancouver, Washington, and his popularity was so strong that the club had to expand its space three or four times in five years.    “Jean’s show was one of the most unique shows audiences had ever seen,” according to a write-up of activities di-

Jean Dawkins looked the part of a young troubadour while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard. (Courtesy photo) rector Debbie Taplin in the latest Lynden Manor newsletter. “If Jean heard a song, he could perform it — even if he had heard it ten years ago, somehow he can remember the words and perform the song with his own unique style.”    At age 85 Jean Dawkins is now a resident at Lynden Manor, where once a month he and some bandmates do their thing for the entertainment of the residents.    Up in his room, neatly lined in a dis-

play case, are about a dozen Fender Jaguar electric guitars, which Jean will emphatically say are “the best guitars ever made.”    In clearing out his well-established central Whatcom County house for this move to Lynden Manor, oldest daughter Gayla Van Beek points out, the family had to dispose of dozens more guitars or items of Jean’s musical performing over the years.    As always at times like these, the

broad sweep of a loved one’s life comes into sharper focus — the uniqueness and peculiarity of a person.    Jean Robert Dawkins was born in 1933 as the oldest of five children in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. At age 13 he began helping to support the family. Jean’s granddad Dawkins lived with the family and clearly was the musical talent and inspiration, often playing guitar and piano See Dawkins on C4


Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Ferndale Record


Dawkins: New music outlets found in Lynden Continued from C3

and singing. That’s where Jean’s love of music was born. “I inherited it,” he said.    The family moved to Washington State where Jean graduated from high school in LaCenter and then joined the U.S. Coast Guard for a four-year hitch in 1952.    Jean will say that he won his first “good” guitar in a poker match in the Coast Guard. He soon became very popular with “the brass” for his playing and singing, and that evolved into his primary role — along with softball pitching on Coast Guard teams, at which he was equally adept.    “Between these two gifts, he did nothing else but play music and pitch while being stationed in one of the most beautiful paradises on earth, Hawaii,” wrote Taplin. He pitched a no-hitter against the best state team in Hawaii, he said.    Out of the Coast Guard, Jean married Jeanette Foster. The couple eventually had four children and in 1968 moved to Lynden to help John Ham, Jean’s cousin “like a brother,” do some construction work for the Church of the Naza-

rene here. Also, when John Ham preached, Jean played the organ for the service.    His musical ability found new outlets in the Lynden area. Jean played the keyboard when George

“To me, the guitar is by far the best instrument ever made by man. It's so versatile.” — Jean Dawkins, lifetime local musician Vrieling conducted church services at the Whatcom County Jail. He sometimes paired up with local favorite Claudette Dykstra, or young guitarist Mike French (whose family Jean had known in Alaska) in gigs at the back of Casey DeGroot’s Fairway Cafe in the 1970s. He was often an entertainer at the Northwest Washington Fair. Jean owned Midway Music Store, with locations in Lynden and Bellingham, and he gave music

Jean Dawkins, left, and Mike French provide music at a Lynden church wedding reception in 1973. (Courtesy photo)

This is the musician’s motto enscribed on a pillow. (Courtesy photo)

lessons.    Jean also had another occupation, entirely different. He had started hanging sheet rock as a young man and he kept it up as a trade all through life, into his 70s. He did it “because he knew he would always have a job — no one else would do it for long because of the difficulty,” in Taplin’s account.    Jean says that in his day he did sheet rock on local construction projects of Hip Kok, John Kooy and Larry Strengholt.    Jean also kept up his fastpitch softball interest playing on strong Nazarene church league teams that notably includ-

ed Kleindel family members.    But the musical performing was always there, on nights and weekends after his physical labor.    Jean will wax superlative about his beloved guitars: “To me, the guitar is by far the best instrument ever made by man. It’s so versatile. You can play it on a boat. You can play it on a horse.”    Besides possibly on boats and horses, he definitely did play at American Legion and Eagles clubs, at retirement centers and nursing homes, often doContinued on C5

Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Ferndale Record

ENCORE nating his talents. He has recorded over 500 tunes, but when he put together a CD called “Moments to Remember” of more than 30 selections, the proceeds went to the Alzheimer Society, not his own pocket.    Jean says that if he wanted to be in it for the money, he would not have turned down the chances he had to sign with major record labels — but would have had to move somewhere else.    Asked who his favorite singer-songwriters were, he readily cites Marty Robbins as “by far the best of all of them,” also Perry Como, Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, Bing Crosby and Roger Miller. Elvis might even fit in there, although he says he “wasn’t impressed” by the Beatles.    He learned to appreciate church music though his family and certainly was asked to perform, sometimes with French, at many weddings and special functions.    Of being 85, he says, “I don’t even think about. It’s just a number.” He is forever in his world of music.    Something in his quick mind is keeping him going strong even at his age, says daughter Gayla, and she believes his doctors agree. Deafness has been no handicap, and music has been his driving force.

Jean Dawkins is well looked after by his daughter, Gayla Van Beek of Lynden. (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune)

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Ferndale Record


The voice of Whatcom sports

Very early in his radio career, Stark does a March of Dimes remote broadcast from the Newberry store in downtown Bellingham. (Courtesy photo)

Broadcaster Dick Stark’s impressive career spans more than 55 years By Nick Elges

   BELLINGHAM — For more than five decades, turning on the radio in Whatcom County to catch the big prep football or basketball game meant listening for a certain voice, one that clearly understood the action and was an integral part in bringing the prep scene to life.    That voice, of course, belongs to the now 83-year-old Dick Stark, a longtime broadcaster for local radio sister stations KPUG and KGMI.    Over the course of his career, Stark

covered numerous state basketball tournaments and marquee football matchups and he was even considered the “Voice of the Vikings” while covering sports for Western Washington University. He has received many honors, from induction into the Washington State Football Coaches Hall of Fame to the Dave Duvall Award for Community Service.    Much of his time behind the mic was spent in the world of hoops, so it was appropriate that Stark’s last broadcast came in March at the 1A/2A high school state tournament in Yakima. Stark got the chance to witness three Lynden teams win state titles, adding yet another memory to the long list for the passionate and honorable reporter.    The beginnings of Stark’s broadcasting career go back to his days studying at Bellingham High School in the 1950s, where he would do play-by-play for a

school all-star basketball game and act as a public announcer for various sports.    Dick then attended the University of Washington, majoring in radio and television and getting the chance to cover Pac10 conference games for KUOW, the campus radio station. “Nobody was listening to us,” Dick said. “Everyone was listening to the network TV broadcast, but it was a great training place.”    Stark stayed at UW for two years before being drafted into the U.S. Army. He wound up serving two years 1956-58 based in Washington, D.C., and managed to play basketball for the service team during his free time. Once out of the military, Dick couldn’t afford the tuition to renroll at UW, so he returned to Bellingham to attend Western Washington.    “I really thought I was going to be a teacher,” Dick said, adding that he lived with his brother, former Nooksack Valley

HS football coach Jack Stark, at the time.    While pursuing his teaching credentials, however, a speech professor during Dick’s senior year inquired about his background in radio broadcasting, and the professor helped Dick get an audition at a new Bellingham radio station now known as KBAI.    Stark worked for KBAI while in school, providing rock and roll music for Bellingham and even he had his own show called “Stark till Dark.”    “I still get comments about those days,” Dick said with a smile.    Upon graduating from Western in 1962, the year he married his wife Ardith, Stark was offered a full-time job, and was eventually hired by KPUG, where his career took off. After one year at KPUG, the station’s sports director left for Seattle, and Stark was asked if he was interested in the role. In response, he said, “I would live and die for it.”    “I think the good Lord was looking after me,” Dick said. “I couldn’t have asked for a job that I wanted more.”    From there, Dick’s broadcasting career allowed him to witness plenty of legendary games and events, bringing the county’s sport scene to life with a knowledgeable voice that was easy to listen to.    “An advantage I felt I had was I really felt I knew the game,” Stark said about his ability behind the mic. “I thought I could spot coaching adjustments, but I consciously made an effort to never secondguess anyone, especially coaches.”    “I’ve always tried to do it honestly,” he added. “Maybe it’s my Christian faith, but I tend to treat others the way I’d want them to treat me.”    Stark also said it was critical for him to remember it was all about the players, who were usually high schoolers.    “I never wanted to criticize a player,” he explained. “Players were always supposed to be the winners in this thing. I don’t think I ever put a player down, at least I hope I didn’t. I tried to keep everything positive. That was one thing coaches seemed to appreciate about me.”    If you ever get the chance to ask Dick about some of his most memorable broadcasts, you’ll be impressed by what he can recall right off the top of his head. Some of his favorite players to cover included Blaine basketball’s Richard Hanson back in the 1960s and Blaine’s Luke Ridnour in See Stark on C10

Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Ferndale Record


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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Ferndale Record

The right note Juilliard-trained pianist Sylvia Boss finds a home for her talents in Lynden By Alyssa Evans for the Lynden Tribune

   LYNDEN ­— Always strive for beauty.    This is the principle that has guided Sylvia Boss throughout her life.    It all started when Boss was 4 years old, when she started playing on her family’s grand piano.    Boss, a Hingham, Massachusetts native, was soon enough performing in venues such as the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.    She graduated from her high school, the Community Charter School of Cambridge, at age 17. Upon graduation, she was accepted into The Juilliard School in New York City.    While a Juilliard student, Boss studied alongside classmates who eventually became famous musicians.    “I sat next to Van Cliburn in class,” Boss said.    But her classmates weren’t the only ones who shined. Boss herself won the Steinway Piano Contest before graduating from Juilliard. At her debut recital at age 19, the same age at which Boss played the Isabella, a Boston Herald critic described her as “eminently musical.”    “I still remember it,” Boss said. “Those were the exact words.”    Now in her mid-80s, Boss is a month-

ly performer at the Jansen Art Center. She also plays at other venues such as the Meadow Greens Retirement Community. She hopes to soon perform in Bellingham.    Boss plays classical standards such as pieces by Beethoven and Mozart, which she feels vary greatly from current music.    “I try to play music that helps people,” Boss said. “I feel like music today —

“Stunts do not lead to art. What we're striving for is beauty in music.” — Sylvia Boss, local pianist there’s so much that isn’t really music.”    An Aristotle quote has helped guide Boss’ relationship to music throughout her career: “If one listens to the wrong kind of music, he will become the wrong kind of person.”    “Stunts do not lead to art,” Boss said. “What we’re striving for is beauty in music.”    She is a great fan of the outdoors, and she gets out into it with activity as much as she is able.    After graduating from Juilliard, Boss found herself spending time climbing in locations such as Yosemite National Park and mountain passes in British Columbia, where she lived for 10 years. Boss has also been active in Washington state, where See Boss on C9

Music should be about what is beautiful, insists classically trained Sylvia Boss. (Alyssa Evans/Lynden Tribune)

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Ferndale Record


Boss: Next performance at Jansen June 20 she has lived for more than 40 years, she said.    Most of that time in the Evergreen State was based in Sequim. Boss played for the Sequim Ballet for 30 years. She also played at Whitman College in WallaWalla one summer.    “I love the mountains all around here. There’s a little bit of everything,” Boss said. “The study of arts helps us to appreciate the outdoors and find spirit in our work.”    As for the future, Boss plans to continue doing what she’s doing.    “I’d hate to leave Lynden, it’s so beautiful here,” Boss said. “I haven’t found any place in Washington state that’s not beautiful.”    Boss will play next in the Jansen Art Center Piano Lounge from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 20.

Sylvia Boss had her pages of notes ready, but she played April 2 at the Jansen not needing them. (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune)

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Ferndale Record



Stark: Remembering Lynden basketball the late ‘90s.    Lynden was commonly one of Dick’s territories, and he has more than a few favorite Lynden moments in basketball, the main sport he covered. Stark was around for the Jake Maberry-led Lynden Lions’ teams in the 60s, rivalry games between Lynden and Lynden Christian and the unforgettable story of the 1976 Lynden Christian “Iron Lyncs” team that won a state title with just six players.    “You remember the good ones — they really stand out,” Dick said of his seemingly unlimited memory bank. “You don’t remember all the games.”    While at KPUG, Stark got the chance to work with many people, but Terry Allen was probably his favorite person to do a broadcast with. Allen had a long career as well and worked in Yakima for many years, but came to Bellingham to take over as KPUG’s news director and do play-by-play with Stark for nearly 15 years.    “Absolutely the most fun guy I’ve ever worked with,” Stark said. “He knew how to lighten things up with one-liners. He and Continue on C11

Dick Stark, center, was in radio station management and advertising daytime. Radio sports announcing was his sideline gig. (Courtesy photo)

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Ferndale Record


As KPUG sports director, Stark was also covering the Western Washington University Vikings. (Courtesy photo)

I would do a game and we’d just be having fun.”    Stark added that he got the chance to help break several people into the field over the years by teaching them everything he knew. He also said he loved getting to know local coaches, and often had friendships outside of the broadcast with coaches.    Even though he spent so much time inside gymnasiums or traveling to state tournaments, broadcasting wasn’t Stark's day job. “Most of my time was in sales and management,” he said, adding that the role was free and easy. “The fun part was doing football and basketball games.”    With his career in the books — although he says he may fill for a broadcast at KPUG/ KGMI if needed from time to time — could Stark ever have imagined doing his dream job for so many years?    “No,” Dick answered. “I didn’t have a clue. It’s generally a short career.”    Regardless, the longtime voice of Whatcom sports is grateful for the opportunity and the support of the county. He next hopes to make recorded broadcasts available to the public as he strives to keep the rich sports history of the county alive and well.    “I feel blessed,” Stark said. “I’ve always loved the Lynden community and the whole county.”


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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Ferndale Record

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