Obituaries … some families do them others choose not to, but what about someone that has no family or the family chooses not to acknowledge the passing of their loved one for one reason or another? Maybe it is too painful, maybe they plan to do it and time passes and they feel too much time has gone by, maybe they just don’t know what to say?
Recently a man came to Forks looking for an old friend, it took a while to find the information because there had been no obituary. The man was devastated to find his friend had died a few years ago. Also recently a family member of a Clallam County resident had wondered why their loved one’s obituary was not in the paper. I explained that I usually let a family make the decision to share an obituary, I would never print one without permission.
So a few weeks ago when a long-time Forks resident died and I knew he had no family living here or maybe no family at all. I asked his friends if it would be okay to acknowledge his life and let people know some interesting things he had done in his time on earth, they said yes …more recently most people would have just seen a little old man, pushing his walker down Division St., but Bryce Tilton was an interesting guy! I had interviewed him several times, so I had some information about his work history but turned to the internet to find the rest.
Bryce Oliver Tilton was born July 24, 1927, to Dan and Ellen (Swanson) Tilton. Even though Bryce’s father was disabled having lost one thumb and the other thumb damaged he worked as a logger to support the family. Bryce grew up in Whatcom County and attended Nooksack Valley High School, graduating in 1945. While in school Bryce was involved in band, honor society, the school newspaper, FFA and Science Club.
After graduation Bryce enlisted in the Army in January 1946 at Fort Lewis. It was possibly in the Army where Bryce trained to become a meteorologist. Bryce would eventually find himself stationed at Tattoosh Island working to forecast the weather, taking surface and upper air observations daily.
Bryce worked shifts of 10 weeks on the desolate Island and then several weeks off, even when the duration of the shift was reduced to five weeks on and several off, it was difficult to find individuals willing to work in such remote surroundings.
Bryce had one close call on the tiny island involving a weather balloon. A strong east wind was blowing and just as the balloon was to lift off it became evident that it was going to blow right into the lighthouse also located on the island. Quick thinking halted the release of the balloon and disaster was avoided.
In August of 1966, the weather station on Tatoosh Island was relocated, to the former Quillayute Air Station giving Bryce a welcome change of scenery.
On Nov. 6, 1970, Bryce married Margaret Hope Myntti. She preceded him in death, March 15, 1988.
After retiring from his weather recording days, Bryce still liked to watch the weather channel “quite a bit” and as far as climate change goes he said, “I do have an opinion on that, there have been several ice ages, and maybe there has been global warming before?”
Bryce died in Forks on Feb. 4, 2019, he was 91. An old weather proverb to send Bryce on his way …
“Long foretold, long last. Short notice, soon passed.”