October 29th, 2017

Stephen Arnold Waschke

Stephen Waschke.

My cousin Steve died last week. He fought a long hard fight against heart disease and I believe death came to him as a release. Steve was taken care of by his son Jacob and his son’s partner, Shasta. Steve was the son of Arnold and Dorothy Waschke, who both passed some years ago. He left behind his two sisters, Deanne Watt and Dlonra Eitner, his brother David Waschke, his son Jacob and many, many friends and other relatives.

Steve was a skilled welder most of his adult life. He apprenticed at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton and served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. He built and repaired boats and worked turnarounds at the oil refineries. He could lay down a flawless bead standing on his head, tell a good story, and, having taken lessons from his father, roast a perfect salmon on an open vine maple fire.

A Steve exploit with barbecued salmon.

In later years, when his failing heart forced him to hang up his hood and leathers, he taught welding and other construction skills at Northwest Indian College.

I have many stories to tell about my cousin, most of them from the glorious days when he was the leader of our band of cousins on Waschke Road. Steve seldom got us into outright trouble, but he deftly pressed the limits, from requisitioning fence posts to build a replica of Fort Apache to digging underground chambers where the cows wandered, big and deep enough to be death traps. He led us to jump out of the haymow onto scant piles of loose straw, high enough to break a limb; he egged us on to swing on precarious ropes suspended in the barn.

Last week, those exploits ended, but Steve will lead them forever in our memories.

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