PACIFIC COUNTY — Howard George Wanke, 89, drifted peacefully to sleep Aug. 12, 2019 in his home, with his family near, and near the Pacific Ocean that he dearly loved.
Howard was born Oct 21, 1929 to George and Myrtle Wanke, from North Dakota, soon relocating to Portland, Oregon.
When Howard was 16, he put his father’s signature to mariner’s papers, joining himself to the Merchant Marines. He left Portland, Ore., on the tugboat Great Isaacs, bound for San Pedro/Acapulco, Panama, and ultimately Portugal. Thus began his love of the seas.
Howard served as a paratrooper at the end of the Korean War. After the war he was hired by the Army Corps of Engineers as a tugboat captain. It was during his time as a paratrooper that he met and married his loving wife of 48 years, Lois Gene Blum. They were blessed with five children: Gary, Peggy, Howard, Rhonda and Michael. Howard’s family often traveled up and down the Pacific coastline, camping on the ocean shore to negate long separations. After marriage Howard renewed his faith in the Bible, and before long he and Lois were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses. They raised their children in this faith.
Captain Howard captained many ships in his lifetime, beginning in Oregon and Washington, where he dredged the rivers and also many of the coastal ports.
Captain Howard owned his own commercial fishing boat, the Kingfisher docked in Ilwaco for several years, before moving to California. There, among other things, he captained a ship involved in the cleanup of the Valdez oil spill, and Pacific Ocean salvage projects. Later he captained dive support vessels, even one involved in the filming of the pilot of the television series “Baywatch.”
Howard led a happy and blessed lifetime. Not only did he see his children grow up, but his 15 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren.
Sadly, he lost the love of his life, Lois, on April 12, 2002. Howard held dear to him the Bible’s promise of the resurrection. While we are all saddened by his loss, we are strengthened by the love he had for all of us, as well as his Bible based hope for the future.
Howard’s memorial will be at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Long Beach, on Saturday Sept. 14, at 2 p.m., with Bill Lecture officiating.
All are welcome to help us remember a man who loved his faith, family, friends and always the sea.