Orcas and Whidbey Islands’ Roger H “Hank” Purdue died at his Coupeville home on January 19, 2014. He was born June 12, 1938 in Friday Harbor, Washington. Roger had a magical childhood growing up in the tiny village of Eastsound on Orcas Island where his family the Purdues, Coffelts, Vierecks were long established. His grandfather, Rev Henry James Purdue, was the rector of the Episcopal Parish, his grandmother Jennie the local school teacher. His father’s (Roger C.) service station was a gathering spot where Hank learned about mechanics and story telling. Roger’s mother Huldah operated the radio for San Juan Airlines, a medical lifeline on Orcas, and Roger would race to the airport to watch the happenings and perhaps catch a ride.
Roger graduated from Western Washington University with a major in art and a degree in education. He taught fourth and fifth grades in the Oak Harbor School District for 31 years. Roger used projects to keep his students’ interest keen. Once the students built a glider airplane in the classroom which they then flew.
A mother of Tsimshian heritage and many summers sailing the coasts of B.C. and Alaska inspired Roger to create Northwest Native American art. His first big community project was the first Salmon Wheel in Coupeville (Whidbey Island Museum). He continued with yearly designs for the Penn Cove Water Festival and he designed and brought together local carvers to create the present Whale Wheel in Coupeville.
Roger is preceded in death by his parents Roger and Huldah (Viereck-Coffelt) Purdue, his sister, Annabelle Leatherwood, his brothers-in-law Ed Morgan and Robert Sherman.
He is survived by his wife Sara Sherman Purdue, his children, Wilbur (Julieanna) Purdue, grandson Henry Purdue, and Grace Purdue, his sister Jennie (Kelly) Reid, sisters-in-law Susan Morgan, Cheryl (Robert A) Engle, brother in law Fred Leatherwood, nephews Clifton Leatherwood, Roger (Dawn) Reid, Robert W. (Mary) Engle, nieces Ruth (Mark) Carlson, Donna (Russell) Bailey, Bonnie (Scott) Bennett, many great nieces and nephews and many friends who brought great joy to his life.
An open house for Roger’s friends to visit and view Roger’s art work will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Coupeville Recreation Hall on Sunday, March 2.
Memorials may be made to Orcas Island Historical Society Museum, Island County Historical Society Museum, Coupeville Art Center, Penn Cove Water Festival and Coupeville History Day.