SAILOR, NEIGHBOR, BOAT BUILDER APP APPLEGATE DIES AT HOME
App Applegate (Nov. 10, 1918 – June 11, 2013), longtime resident of the Mt. Pickett neighborhood, died peacefully at home at age 94. A native Washingtonian, he was born in Walla Walla and graduated from Whitman College. After working as a young man in various jobs, App served four years in the U.S. Army; and for many years taught physics and chemistry at the high school and university levels.
App was a fiercely independent thinker, sensitive to social and political injustice, with a “uniquely self-directed life,” according to Rivkah Sweedler, his close companion for the last 16 years.
His love of the sea and of sailing began early and continued thoughout his life. He became a skipper and an almost legendary ship designer and builder. He was particularly proud of his certification as Master of Sail.
He worked largely alone – and on a large scale. In the 1960’s, while an instructor in a Virginia private high school, he spent his spare time designing and building a 100 foot-long steel, four-masted barkentine, the W.J. Eckert. He then spent several years skippering it about Bermuda and along the Atlantic coast.
In the 1970’s, App purchased a piece of land on Orcas Island, and on it proceeded to build a simple off-the-grid home, largely of recycled materials – one that he would live in for the rest of his life. He always referred to it fondly as the Shack; and it was unpretentious for sure, something on the order of 10 feet x 15 feet in size.
After spending two years in the Peace Corps and recovering from major back surgery, App returned to Orcas Island to live. There he enjoyed discussions on Cuba and economic, political and social issues over coffee. Typical topics included the U.S. Constitution, which he saw as having been written to protect Corporations and Business rather than for the welfare of the populace; and the negative impact of capitalism on the well-being of life on the planet. He wrote and published his book, “Effort and Energy in Temprian: Economic Democracy.” A copy is available in the Orcas library.
App was a philosophical supporter of Fidel Castro’s Cuban revolution, and was in recent years also encouraged by the positive role models provided by some other Latin-American nations.
On the forested slopes of Mt. Pickett – thanks largely to strong encouragement from his buddies – he began to build an 80-foot three-masted barkentine out of old-growth Douglas fir. It was named the Aproximada, and was to carry App to Cuba. The nearly completed craft never made the trip.
As a result of a visitor to the Aproximada, App did fly to Cuba in the year 2000. The first-hand experience and insight he gained expanded his thinking and writing about economic democracy and social justice.
The Aproximada never made it to sea; but the world, in the form of many visitors, traveled to the boat. The vessel has become an “organ donor,” with its propeller, desalinator, and other parts now on two ships sailing from both East and West Coast.
As App sails off, he leaves in his wake his offspring: sons Jesse and James, and daughter Lola Applegate; granddaughter Corina Applegate; great-granddaughter Alyssa Perquist; grand-niece Kristen Applegate; and great grand-nephew Harrison Applegate- Blitch. He also leaves behind his companion Rivkah and her grandsons, Emmit and Asher DeHart, as well as a cadre of supporters who have seen through App’s example how a single person with knowledge, skills and perseverance can create the world they want.
There will be a bon voyage gathering on Monday, July 29, 6 p.m., at Oddfellows Hall to share stories of App. To get involved, contact Alexandra Gayek at 376-5484.