Andrew Price Jr.

Andrew Price, Jr. died peacefully in hissleep on October 20th, 4 months shy of 101. Born in Seattle, his family moved to the Island during the Depression. Those years gave him the most memorable experiences of his long life. Whether it was the Puget Sound he sailed on; the land he hiked, managed, and gathered fruit from; the generations of friends he loved here; its history; and its geological features, it all refreshed and nourished him like nowhere else.

After service in the Philippines, and completion of his studies at Yale University, Andy returned to Seattle with dreams of becoming an aeronautical engineer. However, circumstances led him to follow his father into a career in banking at the National Bank of Commerce, later Rainier Bancorporation, now Bank of America.

In 1953, Andy married Marianna Browne Jones, a recent Korean War widow transplanted from San Francisco, and together they raised four children, spending summers at his childhood home on the Island.

Upon retirement, Andy became curious about a vacant homestead on Toe Jam Hill he’d played in as a child. Through exploring the experience of that one homestead family, he became aware of the untold stories of the Port Blakely Mill Company, the late 19th century lumber mill, which at the time was the largest mill in the world. He researched the Mill’s founder, Captain Renton, as well as its ethnically diverse community of immigrants from Europe and Japan. He became a repository of information, memories and artifacts that would otherwise have been lost as the last of the still living Port Blakely inhabitants died.

As part of his research, Andy and Marianna traveled to five continents to visit the locations where the mill’s lumber was shipped, as well as to trace the journey of that Toe Jam Hill homesteader from Sweden to Port Blakely. The result of this extensive research was the book, Port Blakely: The Community Captain Renton Built.

His passion for Bainbridge Island history led to a chain reaction of other projects including the resurrection of the run-down mill town cemetery he’d used in his research. On Memorial Days, he’d set up a card table with cookies and lemonade, encouraging visitors to tell him their family histories, and to pay $5 to become a member of Friends of the Cemetery organization. Today, thanks to many dedicated volunteers, the cemetery is beautiful and well tended.

He then found himself intrigued by the larger picture of place and period when Northwest communities were connected by water, not roads. He then read in the Seattle Times that the Virginia V, the last of the steam powered Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet of ferries, was going to be scrapped. Having ridden the ferry as a child, Andy took upon himself the task of raising funds towards the restoration of the ship. After six years of soliciting countless friends and members of the community, his efforts reaped $4,050,000, which, together with governmental grants, made possible the return of the Virginia V to active service as a popular reminder of this one aspect of Puget Sound History.

Throughout this time, Andy enthusiastically led many walking tours of Port Blakely and the cemetery – for local schools, land-use study groups, and the Island historical society.

After tenderly caring for Marianna through her Alzheimer’s, Andy married, at the age of 92, Loveta Sewell, with whom he shared six happy years.

Always a gentleman, humble, and interested in others, Andy effortlessly connected with all those he met. He lived every one of his 100 plus years with vigor, positivity, and purpose. He is survived by generations of family, all of whom will miss his gentle warmth; 4 children, including Deborah Cheadle and her family, of Bainbridge Island, 10 grandchildren, and 6 great grandkids.

A service will be held at Epiphany Church in Seattle on January 5th at 2:00.

Remembrances may be made to the Virginia V Foundation or the Bainbridge Island Historical Society.