Longtime Grays Harbor resident Henry Eugene Soike passed away peacefully on Wednesday evening October 3, 2012, after a brief illness. He was 91. His wife Dorothy passed away this past May. He is survived by his daughters, Cynthia of Vancouver and Claire of Portland; sons, Steven of Bellevue, David & Tina of Bellevue; and four grandchildren, Layne, Bryan, Derek & Adrianne, and Michael. Henry’s surviving sisters-in-law are Gerry Soike of Seattle and Virginia Tibbals of Berkeley, along with many nieces and nephews.
Henry was born in Portage, Vashon Island on September 24, 1921. His parents contributed land and helped build the Center Grade School next door to their family home. He skipped a grade to join the same class with his two beloved twin siblings, Clifford II “Bud” and Claire who have now passed away. They graduated from Vashon High School in 1938. While attending the UW during the war, he helped test Boeing B-29 bomber models in the Kirsten Wind Tunnel. Henry graduated in 1942 with a BS degree in Aeronautical Engineering.
While at the UW, he took dancing lessons and met fellow student Dorothy Draper from Aberdeen who taught the lessons in a local studio. Henry and Dorothy Draper were married on July 7, 1945 and together they enjoyed 67 years of marriage.
He began his working career at Pan American Airways where he was stationed in Alaska to repair war damaged aircraft. Later he was a project engineer in both New York and Santa Monica for the maintenance and conversion of Douglas aircraft from military to passenger service.
Henry worked 16 years in his family’s motor freight business managing the Aberdeen freight terminal of Coast Truck Lines that operated from Canada to Oregon. He supervised local coastal activities along with transportation of goods and perishables for Grays Harbor’s seafood and cranberry industries.
Thereafter Henry worked for the Port of Grays Harbor for 25 years. He began his employment as Industrial Development Manager in 1963, retiring as Executive Director in 1988. During his tenure with the Port, he made frequent trips to Washington DC supporting Harbor business interests, and testifying before various congressional committees. He supported the timber industry and was also instrumental in promoting and diversifying business activity to increase commerce and employment across the county. He worked tirelessly to promote deepening of the Harbor Channel to enable passage of larger ships as a way to increase business activity for the future. Large projects like this are never accomplished alone, rather by partnerships and teams of people. With the help of port staff, community members, Corps of Engineers, and deft senatorial and congressional support; the long sought deepening project began construction before he retired.
More visible accomplishments of the commissioners, excellent port staff, and Henry included creating the port’s Industrial Road that allows rapid truck movements minimizing traffic congestion in the adjacent towns, reinforced jetty structures at Westport and Ocean Shores to protect shorelines and maintain shipping access, improved marina docks in Westport, additional ship terminals, preserved railroad access to the Harbor, the Wynoochee Dam and recreation area whose early legislative efforts were coordinated by the port, and the Bowerman Basin (now a National Wildlife Refuge) that was preserved via negotiation with state & federal agencies and environmental advocacy groups to find a balance in development during planning for the Harbor deepening project.
Henry was active in both industry associations and local community groups. He held various committee positions for the American Association of Port Authorities and the State of Washington Public Ports Association. He enjoyed his work with the Grays Harbor, Aberdeen, and Westport Planning Commissions. Henry was a past president of the Aberdeen Lions Club, and he chaired a local UGN charity drive and a school district funding levy.
With his trusty Canon camera and various lenses Dad captured many memories of his adventures and hobbies. He truly enjoyed river, ocean, and lake fishing in Washington, Alaska, and Canada. He also liked surf-digging for razor clams. And barbecued pheasant meals were a result of many a trip to Eastern Washington in search of the colorful, ring-necked rooster. He enjoyed landscaping, attending sporting events, and exploring local rivers and lakes. He especially enjoyed organizing and planning travel trips with Dorothy, siblings, family members, and many long-time friends. For relaxation, he had continuous work projects around his summer lake cabin where he loved cooking breakfast, mastered barbequing salmon, and relished eating Dorothy’s special wild blackberry pie.
Arrangements are via Whiteside Mortuary in Aberdeen with a guest book at www.whitesidefamilymortuaries.com. Gifts of support could be sent to the YMCA at 2500 Simpson Avenue in Hoquiam, WA 98550. Special gratitude goes to the staffs’ of GH Community Hospital and GH Rehabilitation; Channel Point and Westhaven Village; to Jack Schrauger; and to “Bookie” for their great attitude and work, especially when extra care was occasionally needed, and for their friendship.
A life celebration for Henry will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday November 3, 2012, at the Aberdeen Rotary Log Pavilion (1401 Sargent Blvd., Aberdeen, 98520). Come join us in sharing fun stories starting at 11:00 a.m.