James Dickens

James Edward Dickens died Nov. 8, 2007 in the loving care of Enso House in Freeland. His wife Elizabeth and children were with him when he passed on.

He was born on the Fourth of July in 1925 in Huntington Park, Calif.

Jim fell in love with his lovely high school classmate, Elizabeth Dresser, with whom he went steady until they could marry in 1944 while Jim was serving in the Air Corps.

Their union produced three loving offspring, Ernie, Emily McArthur (husband Donald), and Jan Beall (husband Richard), all Whidbey Island residents. Jim and Liz were blessed with ten grandchildren and fourteen great-grand children. He is also survived by his sister, Eleanor Bertonneau.

After his military service, Jim became a fireman, first in the Los Angeles area, then in Cambria, Calif. where he was the fire chief while working in construction.

The couple chose the quieter surroundings of Cambria as a great place to raise their children.

It was this love of children that motivated Jim to start college at age 36 to earn his teaching credentials so he could teach math and shop. Jim attended school at Cal Poly — the same institution where Liz worked. The entire family worked together to make Jim’s dream come true.

His great desire was to encourage young people to do work that would bring them pride: “Seeing the pride in a boy is my greatest satisfaction.”

Jim’s great passion was woodworking but he also enjoyed ceramics, stained glass and other creative endeavors. He was always enthusiastic about tackling new projects creating many special gifts for friends and family. He was happy to have a career where he could share his passions with his students; and his students were blessed that he loved what he did.

After their children left the nest, Jim and Liz moved to a mobile home in Los Osos, Calif. where they enjoyed their many friends. When the mobile home park came up for sale, they helped to make it a resident-owned park.

In 2003, Jim and Liz moved to Freeland to be close to their children. They lived in Maple Ridge until recently, when they moved into the newly built assisted living community as Jim’s Parkinson’s disease became worse.

The family plans a memorial service in December at the assisted living community in Maple Ridge.

Memorial donations in honor of Jim’s life can be made to Enso House or the National Parkinson Foundation.