A Forks patriarch has passed. Gene Spaulding, age 93, passed away at his home, Saturday, March 6. He was born July 2, 1927, in Bellingham, the sixth child of eight, born to Charlie and Lennie Spaulding.
He had four sisters and three brothers, all of whom have preceded him in death. He was raised on the Quillayute Prairie until he joined the Merchant Marines, where he served until WW II ended. He served in the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific during his time on the merchant ships.
He started driving dump truck for Leon Gould at age 15, building road, off-highway. His career was driving log trucks, which he loved. He drove for F.R. Henry and N.P. Anderson and then bought his own truck and drove for himself until he retired. He cut Alder lumber out of logs from his own and a neighbor’s property. Eventually, after logging a lot of his property he built a shake mill at his ranch before he sold it to Lawrence Gaydeski and Cliff Thayer. He raised cattle on his ranch of 100 acres on the Bogachiel River, near La Push, his CB handle when driving was “Cattle Baron.”
In addition to raising cattle, he raised four children, and the most awesome garden ever! He was married to his first wife, Georgia, for 19 years and raised two sons and two daughters. He later married Helen and raised her three daughters; Kristy, Dawn, and Susan. Helen preceded him in death.
After her passing, he sold the ranch and moved across the river, as the crow flies, about a mile, so it had the same rich river-bottom soil for his garden.
Gene was known by most of the early pioneers of Forks, and was known and respected as a man of his word, always! He is probably one of the last of the early pioneers.
He is survived by his son Russell, daughter Joyce Stockmyer, his daughter Ronda Hungerford, and youngest son Charles Spaulding.
All of his children loved and respected their dad and feel like he taught them all to be honest, work hard, and never fail to honor their word.
Gene was dear friends with the Gaydeski family, the Tuttle’s, the Penn’s, and many, many more. His dearest friend of the last 16 years was Birdie Duffy, of Sequim, WA. They played pinochle went to the casino and were always spending time or talking on the phone several times a day. Birdie is still living and like a mom to all of Gene’s children, who love her dearly!
Gene loved fishing and hunting and a big bull elk rack that he got when he was just 16 years old is listed in the Boone and Crocket record book.
His daughter Joyce was with him when he passed away in his home, peacefully. His son Charles and Charles’ significant other, Tracey McKee, were also at the home, where they have been staying and caring for Gene. He said that he did not want to be in a hospital or a nursing home, and his children respected and loved his wishes, to the end of his life.
Gene was friends with many of the Quileutes and spoke the Chinook Language better than many. He learned it from his mailman, Tyler Hobucket.
Gene Spaulding was a legend and has been written about in at least one book about the Olympic Peninsula. He was always helpful to his neighbors and family and anyone in need of help; with his dozer, tractor, truck, or even advice.
He never judged anyone by their appearance, ethnicity, or faith.
Gene is also survived by grandchildren Travis of Las Vegas, Noland of Pullman, Rodney of Tenino, DJ of Rainier, Donnie of Elma, and Renea in Alaska.
There will be a burial service at the Quillayute Prairie Cemetery at a future date, details to follow.