Writer, historian Katy Warner dies at age 84

She grew up when the ferries went to Blakely Harbor, and bowlers practiced at a six-lane alley at Fort Ward.

And having lived Bainbridge history, she chronicled it with a book that’s still in print.

“Old Bainbridge” lost one of its most colorful figures Jan. 12, with the death of Katherine “Katy” Warner at Island Health and Rehabilitation Center. She was 84.

Warner’s family roots went deeper than most on the island – she was already third-generation when she was born June 9, 1917 at Port Blakely to Alvin and Elizabeth Welfare.

During her teen years, she worked behind the lunch counter aboard the ferry Kitsap, on a regular run from Port Blakely to Seattle.

She was active in student clubs, and graduated from Bainbridge High School in 1935.

She later worked at G.O. Guy drugs in Seattle, where she met her future husband, Elmer “Ick” Warner.

They were married in 1940 at the Church of St. Andrew in Port Blakely, and lived in Eagledale before moving to Point White.

She stayed in the family home there until her declining health forced a move to a Winslow care center several years ago.

During her adult years, Warner pursued an array of interests, many of them interwoven with the island’s social fabric.

She enjoyed picking wild berries in remote corners of the island, in a day when, as her daughter Kathy Dunn recalls, “a woman would tell her age before she would tell where her blackberry patch was.”

In the 1950s, she took up bowling at a six-lane alley in the Fort Ward neighborhood. Her skills took her to tournaments around the country.

Not averse to a good wager, she also made regular trips with friends to the Longacres and Portland Meadows racetracks, and to Nevada casinos.

Warner worked as a playground supervisor at Blakely Elementary School from 1965-79.

In 1968, she used her knowledge of local lore to advantage in publishing “A History of Bainbridge Island” for island third-graders. She took students on bus trips around the island, so they could visit the places they had been reading about.

A decade later, she gave publication rights to the Friends of the Library. “A History of Bainbridge Island” is still available at local outlets, with proceeds from sales supporting library operations.

“I have used and enjoyed the library since the day it opened in 1962,” Warner wrote in a 1978 foreward. “It seemed a good time for me to return something of myself to this community which has been so good to me and my family over the years.”

In 1965, as a member of the Bainbridge Committee, she became the Christmas Fund correspondent for the Review. Each weekly installment gave whimsical hints to the identities of fund patrons, and she wrote the column until 1998.

“Katydids,” another longtime column that began in the 1960s, gave Review readers more slice-of-island-life tales.

Warner was named Kiwanis Club Citizen of the Year in 1989, and once was grand marshal in the Grand Old Fourth parade.

She is survived by her only daughter and son-in-law, Kathy and Dave Dunn, and grandchildren Katy and David, all of Bainbridge Island. She was preceded in death by husband in 1982.

A memorial service will be announced at a later date.

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