Obituaries » Allen Dean Harader

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Allen Dean Harader

July 31, 1940 - May 22, 2024

U.S. Veteran

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Our loving father, Allen Dean Harader, took a last labored breath and passed on from this world peacefully in sleep on Wednesday evening, May 22nd 2024. The late-stage liver disease that appeared months ago, without apparent cause, wore him out and he hung on still, longer than anyone expected, to the life he lived so fully. Between Virginia Mason downtown and Aegis Living in Ballard, he spent his last weeks with family and friends at his side, recounting life’s loves and adventures, which were many; his true nature shown through constant appreciation for his caretakers and an earnest wonder at his fortune in life.

Al Harader was a true Pacific Northwesterner. Born at Providence Hospital, Seattle on July 31, 1940 and raised on Capitol Hill in the afternoon shadows of Volunteer Park, he was the younger (by 11 minutes and his brother never let him forget) fraternal twin of Tom (“The Twins”), and son of Mary and Delwin Harader. He spent his childhood roaming the neighborhoods of a smaller Seattle, by foot and trolley car, going to the park or lake to play or downtown for shopping. On weekends and in Summer, The Twins would be scooped up by their Uncle Ralph and Aunt Esther to go to the cabin on Skunk Bay in Hansville, where they spent endless hours swimming, fishing, splitting wood, and exploring.

Dad attended Garfield High School, where he ran for class vice president, his unsuccessful slogan being “Al’s My Pal.” He and Tom were also on the school’s 1957 State Champion Football team. Although second-string, they were still dedicated champs, never missing a practice. For fun, The Twins were constantly building things. First, a plywood runabout that “flew” across Lake Washington with skiers in tow. Next, a beat-up Pontiac convertible bought from their aunt’s yard for $100 and fully restored with a blue metallic finish that sparkled in the sun. For project money, they spent evenings and weekends in the basement, repairing the MaxSaw circular saws and other hand tools that their father sold as a manufacturer’s rep. They also added a carport to the family garage to accommodate the Desoto “with fluid drive” owned by their maternal Grandfather, Scotchman Thomas Whyte, who had come to live with them towards the end of his life. Throughout high school Dad also worked at Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe in its original location next to Coleman Dock.

In 1958 Al and brother Tom started at the University of Washington together, both seeking a degree in Architecture, in which they had always had an interest. Their father, Del, although a successful small businessman, had wanted to be an architect but could not afford to go to college at the time. This must have had an influence on his sons. To help pay for school, Al made a fateful decision to enroll in Naval ROTC. After struggling with the rigor of both his Naval classes and duties and the heavy workload of the Architecture program, he decided to drop out of Architecture and pursue an easier business degree. While at the UW, The Twins were both members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity but couldn’t afford to live on campus, so commuted each day from their parent’s home.

Al graduated with a BA in Business Administration in 1962 and reported to active duty as an Ensign in the US Naval Reserve where he was immediately shipped out in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis to join the crew of the USS Cheboygan County, a recommissioned WWII-era LST (Landing Ship, Tank AKA “Large, Slow Target”). For two years, he traversed the Panama Canal many times, often holding the Conn, delivering tanks, jeeps, and other supplies throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean, including stops at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Through storms and doldrums, Dad absolutely loved his time at sea, but became anxious to return home and re-attempt a career in Architecture. When his two-year Tour of Duty ended in ‘64, Dad decided not to extend but stayed in the Naval Reserves, even teaching Seamanship to recruits in Virginia Beach one summer, until being honorably discharged in 1970 as a Lieutenant.

Back at home, while re-applying for the Architecture program at UW, Dad pursued his interest in boats by working for Ron Rawson in Kirkland, who built some of the first fiberglass sailboats and fishing boats on the West Coast. Dad was in-charge of parts and spent many hours combing the warehouse shelves of Fisheries Supply. During this time, he also became an avid sailor and member of the Seattle Yacht Club. He was lucky to be able to learn from his friend Dave Merrick and borrow his boat.

When he finally became accepted to the UW program and told his boss he needed to quit to go back to school to become an architect, according to Dad, Ron Rawson said, “That’s a stupid idea. Why would you want to do that?” Nonetheless, Dad quit and started the program. Dad recalls running into Ron years later and he said, shaking his head, “Hiring you was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made.” Whether Ron was kidding or serious, we don’t know. Dad was excited to finally study Architecture, especially since his brother Tom had previously graduated and was already working as an architect at a local firm. (Dad never expressed that there was competition between The Twins, but it sure seems like there was.)

Around this time, Dad’s life was changed forever and for better, when he reconnected with a girl he had met his first time attending UW. “The most beautiful gal I ever saw” is how he described her. Unfortunately, the circumstances were tragic. Susan Storey had been married to one of dad’s friends and fraternity brothers, David Davies. Dave was on active duty in Vietnam while his wife and three young children had returned to Seattle after having lived in Fort Knox, KY. Several months before Dave was to fly home, the Viet Cong drove a jeep filled with explosives into his Saigon hotel. Captain David M. Davies was one of three American casualties from the blast. The supply logistics camp just South of Saigon became “Camp Davies” in his honor.

After Dave’s death, Sue contacted Dad to let him know and to ask him to be a pallbearer at his funeral. What started as a supportive friendship blossomed into love after Dad took her on a romantic evening sail on Dave Merrick’s borrowed boat. The two were married on October 13, 1966. His willingness to marry a woman with three young children speaks either to the degree he was love-crazed or to the quality of his character or, more likely, both.  While continuing to attend the UW Master of Architecture program as a husband, and now father, Mom and Dad had a fourth child.

Dad completed his Master of Architecture degree and a Minor in Environmental Design after four years of hard work. One of his proudest stories is of how John Graham, principal designer of the Space Needle and one of his thesis examiners, upon reviewing Dad’s plan for a redesigned Seattle waterfront said, “You’ve done more work on this than anyone I’ve ever seen. I don’t even need to finish it. You’re passed.”  Soon after graduating in 1968, Dad was hired by Ed Mahlum. Sr. and worked for Mahlum Architects in Magnolia for the next few years. During that time, he and Mom, who had been living in a small tudor-style house in the Wedgewood neighborhood, decided they wanted to move the family somewhere closer to the water. 

After looking at homes on Lake Washington (that they couldn’t afford) they saw an ad for a small summer home on the water on Bainbridge Island. On a whim, they went over to the island and fell in love with what was basically a Summer cabin sitting only 50 feet away from the sand flats of Murden Cove: The kind of cabin with daylight peeking through cracks in the crooked walls, ivy growing in the attic, and racoons living in the dirt-floor basement – but an affordable one.

Though both sets of parents thought them crazy, they bought the place, cleaned it up, and moved in. This began their love-affair with Bainbridge Island. After the move Dad continued to work at Mahlum, but the long hours combined with the longer commute was unsustainable. He loved his work and appreciated his job and the responsibility that Ed Mahlum Sr. had given him, but he had to make a change for his health and for his family – one that the Mahlum’s were not happy with. He put in his resignation and was surprised to be countered with an offer of Partnership in the small firm. But for better or for worse, one thing about Dad is that once he made up his mind about something it was near impossible to change. Those who knew him best know that stubbornness was definitely one of his shortcomings, but in the form of persistence and sticktoitiveness, one of his best attributes. So he left the firm and re-established himself in private practice on Bainbridge Island. Mom surely appreciated his shorter commute to Winslow.

Those who knew Dad well also know that he could never sit still. Within months of starting his own Architecture firm, he tore the cabin down and began building the dream home he had designed. Luckily there was a small guest house behind the cabin where we were able to live. Amazingly, we all survived with some minor scratches. The result was a unique, modern home that simultaneously felt like a tree fort and a cathedral, with light-filled open spaces and 270-degree views of the beach and Puget Sound. It was a wonderful place to raise a family and Mom and Dad stayed in the house long after all us kids moved away.

With Mom’s consent (or maybe without it) Dad purchased his first sailboat, a 25-foot Cal 25 with a pop-top that made it feel like a camping tent. We regularly crammed all six of us into the boat for vacations. As members of the Port Madison Yacht Club, much of our young family life centered around races, weekend work parties, salmon bakes, and sailing trips to the San Juans. It wasn’t long before Dad upgraded to a Newport 27, then a Cal 34. His favorite boat, of course, was his Catalina 42 “Solitaire III.” 

The young family was also active in Seabold Methodist Church where we spent many Sundays and evening potlucks and in kid’s sports like Soccer, Baseball, Softball, and Basketball. And since Mom was an admitted Broadway Musical junkie, dad was forced to be around a lot of community and local theater and dancing, which he probably also loved. As a member of Kiwanis, Dad was also actively involved in community service. From setting up Fourth of July booths, to building the waterfront park playground, to rejuvenating Winslow Way with new sidewalks and planters, he had his hand in many things that helped improve the town.

Mom and Dad were fortunate to share a drive to run their own businesses. While Mom started the Island’s first Health Food store, Dad continued to grow his small firm, eventually and without intention, specializing in medical/dental offices and pharmaceutical research facilities. He also formed a partnership with friends Don Drury and Ed Johnson and others to develop the North end of Ericksen Avenue in Winslow and designed a number of office buildings meant to fit into the environment that still stand today. Interestingly, the partnership also invested in and designed a resort in Fiji of all places. Although it was doomed from the start, the project provided great experiences and the opportunity to take the families on an amazing vacation.

Mom and Dad also shared a love of travel. So much so that Mom bought a travel agency in the late ‘80’s and eventually shifted it to focus on African Safaris. Over many years they traveled frequently, together and with close friends, around the world and particularly to East Africa. They also continued to take many sailing vacations in Solitaire III.

After running his own Architecture firm for nearly 30 years, Dad decided to get a “real job.” His brother Tom, who had run his own Architecture firm for decades (See, no competition.) decided to close up shop and had already joined a friend’s engineering firm, JRP Engineering in Northgate, and asked if Dad would like to come onboard. At the age of 60, Dad shut down the business and joined JRP. Commuting aside, he enjoyed his work investigating buildings that had failed, typically due to water intrusion, designing the repairs, and being an expert witness in the resulting insurance cases. He also enjoyed working alongside his brother, Tom. Dad felt happy not having to worry about running a business and being able to just focus on the work. After 10 years at JRP dad officially retired.

Sadly, around that time Mom’s health took a bad turn and she eventually passed from Uterine Cancer on October 23rd 2011. Dad and their much-loved Corgi, Griffin, were at her side at all times and he proved again that she was his life’s love. In true form, Dad soldiered on in his stoic way afterwards to keep living. He was lucky to have Griffin to keep him company. He was blessed in time when he met Mary Croy, also a widower, on Bainbridge. After much nudging, he eventually convinced her to marry him. He sold the family home, which was too large for him to care for, and moved into her house in Winslow. The two lived happily together, traveling and enjoying retirement. Dad sold Solitaire III and purchased a 37’ Bayliner “Scotia,” his first “Stinkpot.” Dad and Mary enjoyed their time on the new boat and being members of the Poulsbo Yacht Club together. 

Tragedy struck again in 2019 when oldest son John accidentally drowned in Eagle Harbor on a cold Autumn morning while climbing into a dinghy from the sailboat he lived on. In addition, Dad had been diagnosed earlier in the year with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. With Mary and Griffin at his side this time, he persevered through loss again. After treatment and courses of chemotherapy, Dad recovered and was given a clean bill of health.

Unfortunately, Dad’s health began to waiver soon after, first with signs of progressive dementia and then with a failing hip. The relationship suffered as a result and Dad and Mary were divorced in 2022. Though initially living on “Scotia” at the Poulsbo Yacht Club dock, Dad soon realized that his health was declining and he spent time between daughter Jill and her husband Brian’s house in Kirkland, and son Tim and his wife Page’s house in Ballard. After hip replacement surgery he briefly recovered and went back to the boat, but again realized he couldn’t live alone and moved in permanently with Tim and Page.

Although preceded by sad life events, his last year was a wonderful time for Dad and his immediate family. We got to spend lots of quality time together and Dad often and repeatedly (he did have a bit of dementia after all) talked about his wonderful life and the people and things that mattered most to him. He also talked a lot about planes, speculating as he watched them fly above Tim and Page’s deck – where they were going and how many we could expect as the tourist season progressed. All things that made us smile and laugh as we cherished our time with him. In the end, of course we are sad that his physical presence, his big smile, and witty sarcasm are gone from us, but we feel fortunate that he truly appreciated his long life, and we know that his spirit lives on and he is now facing his next adventure in the great unknown.

With much love from his surviving children and grandchildren, Tricia Davies Nearn and son Charlie, Jill Davies Lucht and spouse Brian, son Evan, and daughter Joanna. Tim Harader and spouse Page and daughters Cecilia, Caroline, and Charlotte.