Excerpts from the Whidbey News Times:
Jan Whitsitt’s eyes filled with tears as she addressed a small crowd near a neatly landscaped garden spot at Windjammer Park in Oak Harbor.
On hand as part of an art dedication that recognized the contributions of her mother and three other Oak Harbor teachers, Whitsitt looked around at a gathering that included politicians, educators, civic leaders, artists and family members and couldn’t help but think about how much the late Trudy Sundberg would have loved being there.
“Mom certainly loved art and literature and people and music and politics,” Whitsitt said. “If you look around this crowd, all of those things are represented here. It’s a real honor to be her daughter and to be here dedicating this beautiful sculpture.”
About two dozen people attended the dedication that paid tribute to retired Oak Harbor High School English teachers Pat Hawley, Tom Carroll, Mary Ann Funk and Sundberg.
The sculpture, created by former high school art teacher Richard Nash, was donated to the City of Oak Harbor by former Whidbey News-Times co-owner and publisher Wallie Funk. “It’s in recognition of the impact they had on Oak Harbor High School students during their tenure there,” Funk said.
Funk unveiled a rendering of the artwork at the opening ceremony of the Oak Harbor Music Festival, Sept. 30, 2014. Mayor Scott Dudley was there to accept the piece on behalf of Oak Harbor.
The sculpture is surrounded by trees in a tidy, shady garden spot landscaped by the Oak Harbor Garden Club and Nash in the northwest section of the park.
“I am just overwhelmed with it, with its location, with the whole layout, the whole design and for the fact that it is honoring a group of people I’ve been familiar with almost all my life," said Funk.
One of the teachers was Funk’s wife, Mary Ann, who passed away in 2008. Of the four honored teachers, the only one still living is Hawley.
“The honor of being in such illustrious company is beyond anything I could have ever expected,” Hawley said. “They were legends, literally, in their own time.”
“This is a gift that keeps on giving,” Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley said. “Our citizens here in the City of Oak Harbor will be able to enjoy this for many years. Individuals who visit our city from outside the state will get to enjoy its presence.” Hawley, who still lives in Oak Harbor, said she is pleased to see such a collaboration between the city and a commitment to public art. “We have gone into a higher league among cities,” she said. “That’s what distinguishes a lot of places is to have permanent art collections.”
Whitsitt, who now lives in Seattle, shared childhood memories of coming to the park and sitting on the rooftop of the family car to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July. When she comes back now, she’ll have a quiet place to visit and a special piece of artwork to admire and reflect. “It really brings a lot of immortality, I think, to these teachers,” she said.
Funk unveiled a rendering of the artwork at the opening ceremony of the Oak Harbor Music Festival Friday, Sept. 30. Mayor Scott Dudley was there to accept the piece on behalf of Oak Harbor.
“It’s great to see the impact the community has on people’s lives and how individuals give back to their community,” Dudley said. “In the case of Wallie Funk, he’s giving back his dollars in sculpture. We’re living in a beautiful community and art pieces are a part of that. We are very pleased and excited about the piece.”
The names of four teachers will appear on the sculpture, including Funk’s now-deceased wife Maryanne Funk. The other honored teachers are Tom Carroll, Pat Hawley and Trudy Sundberg. Hawley is the only honoree who is still living.Wallie Funk speaks at the opening ceremony of the Oak Harbor Music Fesitval flanked by Mayor Scott Dudley, event organizers and a rendering of the sculpture that will be placed in Oak Harbor honoring four former Oak Harbor High School teachers. — image credit: Janis Reid/Whidbey News-Times
A book drop box (an Eagle Scout project) has been added to this bed. It ties in nicely to the teacher theme of this garden, so leave a book and take a book when you get down to Windjammer Park (City Beach). The city of Oak Harbor has now taken over the maintenance of the Teacher Tribute Garden at Windjammer Park.