Albert Lee Warbington

Albert Lee Warbington -- October 20, 1920 -- November 25, 2011

A. Lee Warbington, 91, died peacefully at his home in Kirkland, WA.  He had recently moved from Merrill Gardens in West Seattle.  He kept his good health and his interest in people and the world.  Lee will be missed by friends and extended family, his brother Carl of Aberdeen and his sister Helen of Portland; his children and their spouses Michael and Angela, Claire, Ralph and Barbara, Ruth and Richard; grandchildren Miles, Wayne, Michael, Jeanne, Daniel, Claire, and Kathryn; former wife Doris.  He was preceded in death by his youngest sister Mary Ruth and his son-in-law David.   A memorial service will be held at 1:00 pm December 17, 2011 at Christ Lutheran Church, 3701 NE North Shore Rd, Belfair, WA.  Remembrances to Lutheran World Relief and The American Red Cross.

Lee was born in El Dorado, Kansas, to Fred and Ida Warbington.  He moved with his parents from Kansas to the community of Newton, near Hoquim, WA.  Lee attended elementary classes at Newton school next door, and briefly in his own home, when fire damaged the schoolhouse.  Along with his brother Carl and sisters Helen and Mary, Lee enjoyed exploring the Humptulips River near his home and digging clams at the ocean nearby.  Growing up during the depression the family didn’t have a lot, but shared with others who passed by.  Lee graduated from Hoquim High School in 1938 and then attended Grays Harbor CC, working as a janitor part time.  After graduating in Civil Engineering from the University of Washington he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served as a Second Lieutenant on Saipan and Tinian near the end of WWII.

Lt. Lee Warbington


Lee used the G.I. Bill to complete a Masters in Civil Engineering at the University of Washington.  He met Doris Olson, who was attending the UW, and they married on June 6, 1951 in Decorah, IA.  They lived in West Seattle and raised four children while Lee worked in hydroelectric power planning for the Army Corps of Engineers.  At First Lutheran Church they made close friends.  Lee was handy: repairing the cars, adding bedrooms onto the house as more children came along, and building a sailboat.  He liked to read and continued to learn and seek answers all his life.  Lee took early retirement at 55 and taught engineering for a year at St. Martin’s College in Olympia.  Though he enjoyed teaching, it was a lot of work for being retired.  He later did some consulting, but devoted much of the next 15 years to sailing.

Lee’s love of sailing may have started earlier, but it took off when he got a sailing outrigger canoe during the family’s year-long stay on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands during 1960-1961.  Back in Seattle he soon bought a 14-foot plywood daysailer, which ended up in pieces on the beaches of Alki after a storm.  He then built a 16-foot version of the boat which was used for many family trips to Blake Island and around the Sound.  Lee’s boats got bigger and he circumnavigated Vancouver Island and explored southeastern Alaska.  In 1977 he bought Pelagic, a sea-worthy 31-foot sailboat, in Hawaii and sailed it back to Seattle with a friend.  Then he sailed down the West Coast of the US, visited family in Mexico, and single-handed across the South Pacific to Tahiti.  He visited many islands across the Pacific before a crash-landing onto a reef in the Cook Islands disabled his boat.  After several weeks with a generous family on Aitutaki, he joined another boat traveling to New Zealand.  He finally flew back to Seattle months later.  By the next year he had bought Spindrift on the east coast (again a Golden Hind 31) and was cruising from the Caribbean to Maine.  Two years later, in 1984, he crossed the Atlantic with 2 friends.  He made extended stays in Portugal and France and waterways all around Europe.  He single-handed back across the Atlantic in Dec 1990.

Crossing the Atlantic


Lee stayed on and off in the Caribbean, based in Puerto Rico, for another few years before returning to the Northwest and settling into the cabin his parents had built on Hood Canal.  He joined Christ Lutheran Church in Belfair and made new friends through the Bible Study and Quilting groups.  As he always had, he continued to quietly help out around his community.  The rather rustic cabin on Hood Canal provided Lee with many projects, from repairs to felling trees, from cutting firewood to building a carport from logs and scavenged lumber.  He enjoyed sharing home brew beer, oysters, applesauce, and huckleberry pies.  He drove across the US many times in his camper van, visiting family and friends from coast to coast.

Lee always enjoyed telling a story and he never hesitated to describe his frequent humorous, and sometimes harrowing, adventures. There was often a good laugh.  How to laugh at ourselves is one of the things Dad taught us.  He also showed us that you can patch just about anything; you can climb trees in your seventies, jump off logs in your eighties, and out-burp your granddaughter at 91.  You can swallow dry pilot bread and peanut butter if you are hungry enough.  Pie doesn’t have to be pretty to be delicious and appreciated.  Get along with your neighbors, think the best of people, be responsible for yourself and what is around you.  Celebrate together!

Warbington Family Christmas

Granpa Lee and Katie at Hood Canal

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