Ivan, scion of one of Whidbey Island’s oldest pioneering families, bravely passed from this life to the next on the morning of Aug. 12. A fighter to the end, he exited surrounded by the ones he loved, in the house he built on the farm where he grew up.
Born on Oct. 20, 1932 to parents W. Ivan Little Sr. and Mary Francis Little, Ivan spent the first two decades and the last two decades of his life on Whidbey Island.
During the years in between, he served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany, earned a degree in physical education from the University of Washington, met and married his wife of nearly 60 years, Marilyn Burns, bought a house in South Seattle, raised a son and two daughters, went back to the university and got a master’s degree in educational administration, taught P.E. and coached gymnastics for 30 years, making scores of friends along the way, and “retired” in 1989.
Never one to sit still, Ivan kept busy gardening (he was particularly proud of his softball-sized onions), keeping bees and chickens, working on myriad projects, reconnecting with old island friends and together with his son, Eric, rebuilding “the little farm on the corner.”
Ivan’s greatest joy was helping others, especially his kids and grandkids. All you had to do was call and it was Ivan to the rescue. He seemed most content when he and Marilyn were surrounded by their clan for holidays and impromptu gatherings at the farm or when the family was together for a “barbecue at the beach.”
This good man and incredible father is survived by wife Marilyn, son Eric (Sherri), daughters Leslie Breeden (Craig) and Stacy Little (Steve), grandsons Chad Yingling (Lori), Joshua Yingling and Jacob Breeden, granddaughter Emily Alexander, brothers Dan (Pat) and Wray (Sara) and sister Martha Evans (Peter).
A memorial, open to all, is planned for Oct. 20 (Ivan’s birthday) at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland at 1 p.m. with a reception at the church to follow.