Charles Kenneth Corrigan


Charles Kenneth Corrigan, 89, of Olympia, died Sunday morning, December 23, 2012, at home.

Ken was born March 29, 1923, in Aberdeen, Washington, the only child of Charles Henry and Alice Josephine (Lindholm) Corrigan.

Ken spent the first 14 years of his life living in or near the logging town of Brooklyn, Wash. His family then moved to Aberdeen, where Ken graduated from Weatherwax High School in 1941. He then worked graveyard shift at a plywood plant in Aberdeen while attending what is now Grays Harbor Community College during the day. In late 1942, his family moved to Turner, Ore., where he worked on a family farm until he was drafted into the U.S. Army in April 1943.

Ken received his basic training at Ft. Lewis, Wash., and further advanced training at Ft. Irwin, Calif., and Camp Atterbury, Ind., before shipping overseas to Europe on the U.S.S. Wakefield with the 106th Infantry Division, 591st Field Artillery Battalion in November 1944. He arrived as a replacement in Belgium near a town called St. Vith in early December 1944, one week before the outbreak of the conflict now known as the Battle of the Bulge. Although many of his compatriots were either killed, wounded, or taken prisoner, Ken made it through that fierce 6-week period battle scarred but unscathed. After the war in Europe was over, Ken returned to Oregon for a brief period, before going to Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., to learn the horology trade.

Ken was working at Jackson Jewelers in Salem, Ore., in 1949 when he met his future wife, Ellen Bettie Boies, also of Salem. They were married on July 29, 1950, in Salem. Ken also played saxophone in a small band and Bettie was their lead female singer while they lived in Salem. They began their family in Salem with sons, Randy and Lance. The couple then moved to North Bend, Ore., in 1953 and together started Corrigan Jewelers. In 1959, they expanded their business with business partners Owen and Esther Winters and a new store name of Corrigan-Winters Jewelers, with the original store in North Bend and another in Coos Bay. While in North Bend, son Shawn and daughter Tracy were born to complete the family.

In addition to being a jeweler, Ken was quite skilled in automobile restoration and he completely rebuilt a beautiful and rare 1931 Model A 2-door phaeton. Later, he restored a 1930 Model A roadster and a 1964 Corvair Monza. He completely updated an early 1900s house in North Bend to which the family moved in 1956. He also built a duplex in the mid-1960s on a vacant lot next to the family house.

Ken and Bettie sold the jewelry business in 1970 and moved to Olympia. They owned, managed and maintained rental properties since then. Even in his 80s, it was not uncommon to see Ken up high on a ladder, either caulking, painting, or conducting some kind of repair work.

Ken was preceded in death by his wife, Bettie; parents, Charles H. and Alice J. Corrigan; and son, Lance. He is survived by sons, Randy (Diane), Shawn (Debbie), and daughter Tracy, 11 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren.

A graveside service will be held Friday, December 28, 2012, at Forest Memorial Gardens in Olympia. Viewing will be from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., followed by the service.