Agate Passage Friends Meeting

Bainbridge Island & Kitsap County,

Memorial Minutes from Agate Passage Friends Meeting, Pacific Northwest Quarterly Meeting, North Pacific Yearly Meeting.  Since January, 4 Friends from our small meeting have passed on Three of these were "charter" members 5 years ago when we transitioned from Worship Group to Monthly Meeting.  The Friends are Millie Royce, Roberta Wilson, Lori Raschke, and Bob Major. Good Friends should be well treasured; these were dear Friends.
Millie Royce  1929-2008 Roberta Wilson  1955-2008 Lorita Rashke      -2008 Bob Major     -2008 Virginia Barnett  1910- 2010

Memorial Minute for Millie Royce, 1929-2008

Bainbridge Island's former one room school house, Seabold Hall, was over-flowing the Saturday afternoon of January 12, 2008.  Millie Royce's memorial service in the Quaker tradition was about to begin, and the space had filled almost beyond capacity.  In her quiet, caring, dedicated way, she had touched many, diverse lives.  All areas of her interests seemed to be represented in the grieving crowd:  Children or their parents whom she had loved, taught or otherwise nurtured were present, along with her 9 year old granddaughter, two sons and beloved husband, Bob.   Also in the assembly were other artists, a few amateur musicians, and many folks from Agate Passage Friends Meeting.  Many of her neighbors came from the cooperative mobile home community that she and Bob had helped found.

Millie had given generously of herself to our Quaker community, (particularly in helping plan First Day educational programs, or most recently, making artistic pillows for the hard seats worshippers had been sitting on).  Aspiring poets from her former poetry group were heard from in the service, plus a contingent from the Nicaraguan street kids rehabilitation project, "Si a la Vida", that she and Bob had helped found.  Peace activists were also vying for space in the cramped room, as the Royces had rarely missed a peace march or protest in years.

Some who had been drawn to the memorial service. knew Millie primarily as a spiritual seeker, a student of Jungian depth psychology, or a volunteer at YES Magazine.  The turn out and the sense of sadness for a significant loss were impressive!  Equally so was the entire service that followed, where many spoke of the important part Millie had played in their lives and what she had meant to them!  Although Millie presented her humble, always caring, sometimes self-deprecating, sides much of the time, it was evident that she had loomed large in the lives of a significant number of people.

Hard circumstances in Millie's growing up years had probably helped strengthen her self-reliance and resiliency.   She grew up as a shy, often lonely, child on her parents' farm in Eastern Washington.  There were no other playmates near her age, and she'd had no friends until well into grade-school.  Her older sister's problems also drew much of her parents' attention away from her when the girls were little.   (Mary Merle had shown signs fairly early of the bi-polar mental illness that would force her to live most of her adult life in institutional care.)

               Nonetheless, Millie did well in her studies, and after high school she went onto receive a B.A. degree in Education from Central Washington College.  In her senior year, in 1951, she met fellow-student, Bob Royce, a veteran of the Merchant Marine in WWII.  By the end of the war, Bob had become a pacifist and was convinced that he wished to work for greater equality, justice and peace in the world. Millie and Bob decided to marry soon after they met.

In their getting-to-know-each-other process, they realized their need to find a spiritual tradition they could both share.  Bob had learned of the Quakers through two mentor teachers in high school, so when he saw a notice for a Quaker study group on campus, he convinced Millie to sign up with him.  After six months in the study group, they both felt that they had found their religious "home." However, it was many years later, after two and a half decades of living and working in Puerto Rico, that they actually joined the Religious Society of Friends on Bainbridge Island.

Puerto Rico was a busy, creative period in the couples' lives.  Bob worked as a Librarian successively at two different colleges in PR while Millie taught First Grade and English as a second language for periods.  After contracting meningitis, she began experimenting with block printing on fabric, adapting and integrating Puerto Rican (Taino) Indian motifs. That in turn led her to open and manage a successful business, featuring her textile and garment designs and Puerto Rican arts and crafts. Their store not only featured Millie's original fabric designs and clothing, along with accessories and toys, but also the work of local artisans, including pottery, basketry, wood and gourd crafts, etc.  Her shop was honored in Town and Country Magazine as one of the, "Ten best Shops in the Caribbean."  She was also gratified to be helping a number of struggling local artists, who became close friends.

Millie and Bob moved back to the Northwest in1987.  They attended University Friends Meeting in Seattle for much of the decade, and became Quakers officially after retiring to Bainbridge Island in 1998.  Whether attenders or members of a Quaker meeting, Millie gave her love, talents and deep concern for the world to her several communities.  Millie's passing leaves a large hole in our small Agate Passage Meeting, and probably not a Sunday or week goes by that a number of our community do not think of her and consciously miss her gentle presence among us.

--Virginia Hoyte, May 22, 2008

Memorial Minute for Roberta Wilson

Roberta Wilson of Agate Passage Meeting died of an infection of the pancreas which effected her heart in late April, 2008. Because she had been on this planet only 53 years, her community took her death as unduly tragic. Almost since her birth in Orange County southern California, her friends had counted on her for leadership as a social activist. She did not fail them.

Roberta's childhood was spent in Southern California where her father worked for Lockheed. She received her bachelor's degree at Chapman University in Orange California and after graduating wrote for several community newspapers before taking a technical writer's job and moving to Seattle in 1989.

Both in California and in Seattle where she attended Friends Meetings, Roberta Wilson was what her partner of 14 years, Jeff Moore, called a "self-made" social change advocate. She had been one of the starters on "The Great Peace March" from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. in 1986. At its finish there were many less walkers than the 1200 who had undertaken to do the walk, but Roberta was one of them. The conclusion of the walk had countless difficulties, but Roberta was one of those who endured all its hardships and was present at the finish.

After a technical writing job at Microsoft, Roberta resigned and gave particular energy from the late 1980s to the early 1990s to co-founding the "Winslow Cohousing" community on Bainbridge Island outside of Seattle. The some 30 homes on five acres, half of which remain forested and undeveloped in a land trust, are in part a memorial to her leadership and persistence. Owners of the cooperative have a communal kitchen and share the work of maintaining and living lightly on the land. Merely achieving consensus from the early owners of this project required from Roberta unusual skills and endurance. She offered them.

Roberta served a term as recording Clerk of Agate Passage Friends Meeting. As the new millennium came upon her Roberta began her role as a mother by adopting a daughter. Because Agate Passage Meeting has so few other children and Roberta particularly wanted her daughter to have an experience of other African American children, she urged our Meeting to seek out more diversity. When there were no other children at Agate Passage, Roberta began taking Dova to another island First Day School. We understood and accepted her dilemma.

When our Meeting was seeking new solutions to our difficulties, Roberta was always creative in helping us find new ways. It is a great loss to her family and her immediate community that she is no longer with us.

Memorial Minute For Lorita Elaine Rashke

Lorita Elaine Raschke, a native of Montclair, New Jersey, moved to Bainbridge Island in 2001. She became an attender at the Agate Passage Friends Meeting at Seabold Hall shortly thereafter.

Lori, as she was known by her friends, was a Quaker from childhood and had belonged to the Mountain View Friends Meeting in Denver, Colorado, before moving to the Northwest.

Lori held a B.A. in chemistry from Tulane University and worked for many years in environmental chemistry for URS Consultants both in Denver and Seattle.

Although she was generally quiet in meeting, she was known personally by several members with whom she socialized outside of Meeting as bright, highly intelligent and very witty. Lori had no trouble with the word ‘Liberal.’ She was an outspoken, open-minded person and was happy to share her political position whenever the situation to do so arose. Lori had a big heart and cared deeply about the world’s suffering and saw clearly the uselessness of war as a means of solving national problems. It is not surprising that she was active during the Sixties with anti-war and civil rights movements. Lori was involved in many environmental programs locally and donated to the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and numerous other such organizations.

She was highly valued at Islandwood, the Outdoor Education Center on Bainbridge which offers week-long experiences to underprivileged children from Seattle and other communities across the water from Bainbridge Island. Her work with children there will long be remembered and she will be sorely missed. It was Lori to whom the children went with their questions and feelings of insecurity or confusion at spending several nights away from home in a strange place with other children, most of whom they had never met. Lori took control of their belongings for them, oriented them to their unfamiliar environment, and saw them peacefully into their beds when that time came.

Lori lived at Chatham Cove, a lovely condo complex where she had many friends and was on the Board of Directors. There were frequent dinner parties and pot-lucks, often in Lori’s home. Lori was also a member of a cancer support group, a book club and she volunteered for various theater organizations. Lori was something of a world traveler, having taken extensive trips to Europe, China, Thailand, Malaysia and Turkey. Wherever Lori went, she had music as a focus. She belonged to choral groups, beginning in Denver and then with the Bainbridge Chorale. When she wasn’t listening to NPR to keep up with the latest news, she could be found singing along with one of her many records or CDs.

Agate Passage Friends Meeting will miss Lori and those who attended the Celebration of her life will long remember the wonderful film made by her son and daughter-in-law which showed the fun-loving spirit of Lori from the time she was a child, young mother, to her last days when she took a trip to Amsterdam where she could hold her grandson, Kes, and laugh and play with him.

Lori is survived by her son, Erik Raschke, Grandson Kes, and sister, Dolores Arrington. Erik graduated from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana.

Memorial Minute for Bob Major   ? -2008

Robert Major was with our Meeting from 1987 while it was a small worship group on the West side of Puget Sound under the care of the University Friends Meeting in Seattle.  Over the years, as we progressed and grew to be a small Meeting "Old Bob" as he always identified himself, was a constant well-spring of gentle wisdom, playful humor, wit, inventiveness and generosity of spirit.

Up Meeting House steps

Old, staid, worn by countless years

A Voice within speaks

Born in Cranston, R.I. on August 9,1920, he spent his happily remembered childhood in Wickford, R.I., moving to Columbus, Ohio during the depression then graduated from North High School in 1937.  He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, then studied at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. earning a degree in Foreign Service.

He worked for the U.S. Government in D.C. and in Montreal for several years.  He then worked for many years as an editor for McGraw Hill in New York.  

After moving to Seattle to be close to his family he again worked as an editor in the Publications Department of the University of Washington.  And there he earned a degree in Fine Arts with an emphasis on sculpture.  After retirement he moved to the West Side of Puget Sound on the Kitsap Peninsula to help his sister caring for their blind Mother, and enjoying the pleasure of retirement.

While living in Seattle and a member of the University Friends Meeting he was instrumental in establishing the Peace Park there, with a sculpture of Sadako now draped with thousands of origami cranes continually renewed.  

Retirement gave him time to pursue his many interests -- their breadth and depth was "off the chart". He was intensely interested in gardening, always thinking of new and innovative projects: integrating his ceramic work to build a "Fuchsia Pole" (6 inch pots mounted on all 4 sides of a 4 inch X 4 inch pole 8 foot tall, upright and cascading on opposite sides).  He planned and was starting a small water garden, learning and sharing books and plants with a close friend, knowing and naming a vast variety from Memory.

Another interest was in birds, sharing books and publications with childlike enthusiasm. His musical appreciation ranged from Symphony and Opera to Scott Joplin Rags, playing in a private studio while doing his ceramic work.  He was painting in "Plein Aire" in oils with a group of friends, and doing Rug-hooking with another group interpreting his original designs in wool.

His signature interest was Haiku Poetry.  He published several collections and won international awards.  New ones were always springing up in his mind and the twinkle in his eye as he told us his newest one lit up our Meeting. This one and the one above are remembered by Friends:

Sunday morning silence

Outside the window

Roses lean in to listen.

Never married, he lived his later years with his sister, Betty Major, and enriched the lives of his nieces and nephew with all his interests and generosity in sharing them.  He was always brimming over with interests, projects, and books to share so that his enthusiasm spilled over on all who came his way.  His was truly a life of simplicity, generosity and kindness.  Our Meeting is boundlessly enriched with the Memories he left us.

Memorial for Virginia Barnett - 1913-2010

Virginia Barnett. Who died in Turlock, California on March 11, 2010, at the age of 96, was the last to survive of the founders of Seattle’s University Meeting. Born in Seattle on July 4, 1913, she was the daughter of William Robert and Elizabeth Norwood. She lived in the Seattle area most of her life, graduating from the University of Washington with a major in Fine Arts. It was at the University of Washington that she met law student Arthur Barnett, who became her husband in 1936. Arthur was an Irish immigrant, though born in Glasgow. His Scotch-Presbyterian, ROTC background was very different from her more liberal family background. They explored various churches together and were most impressed with the University District worship group then affiliated with Seattle’s Friends Memorial Church.

Virginia worked for the YWCA while Arthur, after a few years with a law firm, established his own practice. Both were much involved in the Friends Center run by the University District group and had joined Friends in time to help establish University Meeting in 1940. Through the friends center, they became active in assistance to Japanese-Americans torn from their homes in a misguided World War Two policy. This led to the establishment of the AFSC Regional office. Arthur’s heroic defense of Meeting member Gordon Hirabayashi, though originally decided against them by the Supreme Court, was later vindicated when the Court reversed itself in 1988.

Another conscientious objector Arthur assisted was a young artist named Morris Graves. Virginia, with her fine arts background, immediately recognized what a fine artist he was and the friendship which developed led not only to continuing professional representation of Graves but of other artists as well, including Mark Tobey, who, like Graves became a good friend. Often paid in paintings rather than cash, and guided by Virginia’s taste, the Barnetts gathered a superb collection.

Though raising three sons, Gordon, John and Frederick and a daughter, Molly, Virginia remained active in numerous organizations:
University Meeting, where among much else, she taught the high-school-aged Sunday School class for several years; the Women’s University Club, where she arranged a number of course sequences and frequently gave book reviews; the AFSAC, where she was much involved in organizing yearly Interracial Family Camps and then was on the original Indian Committee, visiting many northwest tribal groups to interview high school students in hopes of aiding them to attend the University. In 1963 after the death of the Regional Executive Secretary Harry Burkes in a tragic auto accident, she became Acting Executive Secretary while a replacement was sought. She served until 1965 when John Sullivan was appointed to that position.

In 1962, again for the Indian Committee she was central to the group who collected, for exhibition and sale, Indian craft materials from all over the U.S. both to call attention to the work of many highly successful in both its aims, receiving considerable attention in the Seattle press. In addition to her work in the region, Virginia also served on the AFSC’s National Board and carried out at least one assignment that led to her visiting most of the other regional offices.

In 1960 the Barnetts had moved from Seattle to Bainbridge Island. They had spent summers there for some years and found it an easy commute to their Seattle obligations. They gave up their summer cabin and bought a home on Fletcher Bay where they then proceeded to develop a community on the acreage around them. Calling it Fox Cove Lane, they provided lots for a number of homes, including one they built for themselves with ample wall space to display their fine paintings.

It was in the Barnett home that the Bainbridge Island worship group first met, the group which ultimately developed into Agate Passage Meeting. Virginia remained active with them as long as her health permitted, though she retained her membership in University Meeting when Agate Passage was established, no longer able to be active in either.

For a number of years in the 70s and 80s Virginia arranged tours for small groups of interested friends. She and Arthur led such tours to Hawaii which she knew well, having frequently visited her brother there, to Alaska and to Europe, the last of these concentrating on art galleries. They kept their friendship with Mark Tobey, visiting him in Switzerland after he moved there.

Virginia’s mind remained sharp while Arthur’s memory began to fail and she now dependent on a wheelchair, they moved to a care facility on Bainbridge. She stayed on there for a time after Arthur’s death in 2003, but it then seemed best that she move to a facility in Turlock to be near one of her sons. These last years were unhappy ones for her. Arthur’s death was followed quickly by that of their daughter and this second blow was almost more than she could bear. She missed her Bainbridge community and longed to return, though she knew it was not possible. Her sons visited regularly and her Turlock daughter-in-law gave her loving attention, but she spent most of her time with others with whom she found little in common. She who had spent her life discussing books and ideas found herself as she quietly complained with women who had little interest beyond bingo.

Virginia’s last few months were spent in hospice care. She is survived by her son’s eight grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. She had been away from her Meeting for so long that only a few remain active there who had the privilege of knowing her. For those few, that privilege is a cherished memory.

--Bill Matchett