A prolific South Whidbey blogger will be sorely missed by family, friends and fans alike who knew him and looked forward to his weekly updates.
Langley resident Dan Pedersen, who was diagnosed with leukemia in April and battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma for several years, passed away the evening of Friday, July 30.
Many Whidbey Island dwellers know him from “Dan’s Blog,” a series of reflections on nature, wildlife and other subjects that he began nearly a decade ago and updated every Saturday morning, like clockwork.
The final post — the 464th on the website, pedersenwrites.blogspot.com — was uploaded this past Saturday and shared some last words from the beloved writer.
“It was a privilege to share Saturday mornings with you,” Pedersen wrote. “I never dreamed this blog would grow as it did and introduce me to so many thoughtful people. As a friend said, we’ll continue this conversation in another lifetime. But I laugh because I just can’t stop writing, and here I am still doing it after I’m gone.”
Many of Pedersen’s blog posts relied on the photography of others, from longtime friend Craig Johnson, to newer friends, such as Jann Ledbetter and Debra Drake.
Although she only met him once in person, Drake said she emailed back and forth with Pedersen often. There were a few times when he asked to use wildlife or landscape photographs from her Facebook page, “Whidbey Island Wonderment.”
“He was just this really gentle soul, which was perfect because he’s the kind of person who should be so in love with nature,” Drake said. “I literally woke up Saturday and grabbed my phone, and one of the first things I did was read his blog.”
Ledbetter, also a wildlife photographer, had a similar experience with Pedersen, having only met him once in person. They connected primarily through email and Facebook.
In one of his most recent blog posts, Pedersen shared her photos of hummingbirds, ospreys and frogs.
“I feel really blessed to have made a connection with him,” Ledbetter said.
A couple of days before he passed, Pedersen sent her a final email.
“We all have a mission or life’s work, which we find where we least expect it,” Pedersen wrote. “I think yours is to share your love of nature with others who are just learning they are part of something much larger than themselves. You are already enriching their lives, whether they consciously know it or not.”
Johnson met Pedersen at the launch of an earlier version of “Getting to the Water’s Edge,” which Pedersen helped write. Johnson had provided a few photographs for the book.
Johnson, his wife Joy and Pedersen became friends immediately and over the years shared an appreciation for nature. Pedersen’s penultimate post on his blog contains photographs that Johnson took of Wiley Slough in Skagit County. Pedersen often referred to Johnson as his blog partner, although Johnson said the blog was all Pedersen’s own.
“Joy and I helped him see, in his own words, what was in his own yard,” Johnson said, adding that Pedersen and his wife, Sue Van Etten, had a “beautiful property” that was perfect for bird-watching.
When Johnson was dealing with his own illness, Pedersen still found the energy to support him, even while also sick.
“He personally reached out on so many occasions to make our lives better,” Johnson said. “We’re both privileged to just have been in his orbit. We were close to him, and we were truly grateful for that.”
Besides his blog, Pedersen also wrote and self-published 10 mystery novels, many of which took place at locations around Whidbey Island and all of which contain the word “final” in the title. The most recent book came out in April.
Bill Reed, a fellow writer, friend and neighbor of Pedersen’s for over 30 years, said they shared many of their experiences and progress as they worked on their books, communicating several times per day.
“Every time a bird caught my attention outside the window alongside my desk today, I thought of Dan,” Reed wrote. “I think the birds will always remind me of him in the future. I think he knew them all, by first name.”
He added, “Several times today, in fact, I had thoughts I wanted to share with Dan, and then I realized that opportunity was no more.”
Van Etten and Jennifer Angelis, Pedersen’s stepdaughter, sent a final message to blog readers July 31.
“Last evening we held him close, wrapped in the comfort of soft hands and loving words,” the message read. “In his final hours, Dan was incredibly at peace. Today we take much comfort in the gift of that time with him and the closeness we shared in those final moments. Writing to you from Dan’s desk. Looking out the window upon his treasured woodland setting. The woods are still. There is a light mist — a soothing drizzle. The island weeps softly with us.”
A few months ago, Angelis wrote Pedersen a eulogy, which he posted on his blog.