Longtime South End developer, businessman dies

Erl Bangston

Erl Bangston, the founder of a successful Whidbey Island real estate company and longtime developer, died last week.

The Freeland resident passed away Friday, Sept. 12 at his other home in Red Oak, Iowa. Beside him was his wife, Cynthia, and their cat Jade, according to an announcement posted on Coldwell Banker Tara Properties’ website.

Bangston was 74.

“Erl will be deeply missed here, leaving behind only those fond memories we have of him,” wrote company President Rick Chapman. “I know that Erl would tell us do not grieve his death but rather celebrate his life. And that is just the way Erl was — always enjoying life to the fullest.”

Bangston relocated to Whidbey Island in the 1970s from Spokane and went to work for Loganberry Realty in Greenbank. He went on to found Tara Properties, now Coldwell Banker Tara Properties. He sold his interests in the company to Chapman several years ago.

Bangston was also a successful developer of residential homes. Jacob Cohen, an Oak Harbor attorney, was a business partner of his for 40 years. Cohen said they would purchase large tracts of land, then subdivide it for resale.

“He was a big part of people’s lives here,” said Charlene Arnold.

She’s worked for Bangston for more than 30 years, including as a manager for the company’s Freeland and Bayview offices.

Some of Bangston’s better known developments include Village at Maple Ridge condominiums in Freeland, Tara off Mutiny Bay Road, Shannon Forrest in Oak Harbor, and the latest, The Highlands at Langley. The latter won an energy efficient award by the Skagit County Builders as an eco-friendly project and he was recognized by Langley Mayor Fred McCarthy with a city pin in 2014. The mayor said that while they didn’t always agree, Bangston was a “gentleman” businessman.

Cohen echoed those sentiments, praising Bangston as not only a good businessman but a personable, likable and honorable man.

“It’s been painful losing him,” Cohen said.