James Edward Work

March 6, 1925 – May 29, 2012

James Edward Work was born March 6, 1925 in Mullan, Idaho and passed away peacefully on May 29, 2012 at age 87 in Overlake Hospital, Bellevue, Washington.


He was the third of four children born to John William Work and Ethel May Harwood. He was predeceased in death by brothers, William Work and John Work, and sister, Betty Steichen.


Ed grew up in the small, rural mining community of Mullan, Idaho where he developed a passion for work and a deep appreciation for the simple pleasures of life.


December 8, 1941, Ed was 16 years old when he tried to join the Marines and then the Seabees Construction Battalion but was turned down because of his age. Three days after his 17th birthday, he began working in the Midnight Mine and upper workings of the Morning Mine at night while attending school during the day. Ed attended Mullan High School through the 10th grade. He quit school and worked in the forest service that summer and then went back to work in the mines in August and September. Ed had the top job when he left.


He left Idaho in September of 1942 and drove to the coast. For the next year, he worked at Henry Kaiser Shipyards in Portland, Oregon. He began as a welder’s helper, eventually became a Navy certified welder and worked his way up to lead man.


In 1943, he moved to Burien, Washington and lived with his sister and her husband while working as a mechanic at McChord Field maintaining flying fuel equipment tankers. In 1944, Ed  went to work at Isaacson Iron Works in Seattle welding gun mounts for military ships and at the same time worked as a longshoreman on nights and weekends until the end of the war.

January 3, 1946, Ed partnered with Ray Symes and formed South Seattle Excavating Company. He became sole proprietor in 1951 and in 1953, changed the name to J.E. Work Incorporated. By 1971, the company had 144 employees. J. E. Work, Inc. was involved in general contracting on road and sewer projects and land development throughout the state of Washington for over 50 years.


He remained active in business his entire life. Ed was a true self-made entrepreneur and his strong work ethic contributed to his life of contentment, happiness and success.


Ed is survived by his wife of 37 years, Linda Laurie Work, and their sons, James Work and Samuel Work. Also surviving is his daughter Rebecca Sorensen, son Douglas (Karen) Work, daughter Antoinette Work, daughter Jennifer Work, grandson Jason Work, granddaughter Nicole Work Strep, granddaughter Amanda Sorensen and great-granddaughter Tyelor Strep.

15 Responses to “James Edward Work”

  • Phyllis Ward says:

    Linda and family. We are so very sorry to learn of the passing of your husband. We wish to convey our deepest sympathy.

    Fond regards, Phyllis Ward and Edith Windolph

  • Dan Engelke says:

    Linda and family, Iam so sorry to hear about Ed. I have many great memorys of him as he gave me the start to my career. Linda I wish nothing but the best for you and your family. Best regards, Dan Engelke

  • Pal... says:

    Toni and family, I was very sad to hear about your Dad’s passing. I wish to convey my heart felt sympathy. Bobby

  • Earl Dahlin says:

    Linda and boys, and Doug.
    I was sad to read of Ed’s passing. Ed was a real good honest man. Ed could speak gruffly, but he was always ready to give a helping hand, lend a tool, or give a word of encouragement. It was interesting to listen to his many experiences. He will be missed.
    Best Regards to the family.

    Earl Dahlin (FMI, Ernie)

  • Don DeMuth says:

    I got the word today from Linda Work today that Ed passed away,I was shocked my daughter Debra Forsen and I were going to visit him and Linda on the 4th of July weekend at their home at Lake Chelan. What a great person he was, what a shock. Love you Ed! Your Buddy Don

  • Beeze Richards says:

    Ed gave a job and guaranteed it for four years each summer, allowing me to complete my degree in Dentistry. I am forever grateful to Ed Work . May God bless him .

  • Bruce Johnson says:

    Linda , Sam , James and all other family members, We are so blessed to have met Ed and Linda during our stay in Hawaii. That week a few years ago brought us great friendship that will forever be remembered. Me and Ed sitting out on the Lanai, Linda watching Charli and my mom ,while me and Piega snorkeled(and partied!). Our friendship continued over to Chelan with me and Ed sitting out by the lake fascinated by his life stories and he having to put up with mine!! Our friendship was just beginning( it would have been better if not I was his recent dentist!!) and we will truly miss him . Love you Ed, Linda and all family

  • Duane Isackson says:

    Having known Ed over 50 years,I will miss him as a friend and neighbor,his visits to the mill,our talks solving all the Worlds problems.Sorry we did not connect on that last phone call,I allways liked doing things for you. See you later.

  • Ron and Gail Behar says:

    Our deepest condolences to you Linda, and your family. Ed and I had lots of chats in the hot tub at The Whaler in Maui.
    He will be missed.

  • Mel Engelke says:

    Dear Linda and family, I was so sorry to hear of Ed’s passing. I had deep respect for Ed and many fond memories. I am honored to have worked with him and to have known him. Best regards, Mel Engelke and family

  • Bob and Beth Rudolph says:


    Beth and I just returned from 3 weeks in Ireland.

    Thank you for forwarding the link to Ed’s obituary. We appreciated learning about his interesting and varied life.

    We are very sorry for your and your family’s loss.

    Bob and Beth Rudolph

  • Harris Klein says:

    Dear Linda, Boys and Family,
    Words cannot describe the indelible mark Ed left with me. Integrity,
    honesty and hard work came naturally to him and his commitment
    to you was paramount. He will be missed but never forgotten.

    Warm regards,

    Harris Klein

  • Susan & Cyndi Prokop says:

    To: The Work Family

    My sister Cyndi and I read the obituary in Seattle Times. Very sorry to learn of your loss, with the passing of such an dear family member, Mr. James Work. Wonderful tribute to such a hard working man. He maintained a business of practical service to the community for many decades, and offered employment to so many.
    Our great-Uncle was Ray Symes, who partnered with Mr Work in 1946. What a wealth of information for family history research! We’re in contact with Symes family descendants, and will inform them.


    Susan & Cyndi Prokop

  • Susan & Cyndi Prokop says:

    Dear Work Family:

    My sister Cyndi and I read of the passing of Mr. Work… Such a hard working person, who gave employment to so many for decades! What a wonderful tribute in Seattle Times, with excellent family history information!
    Our great Uncle was Ray Symes. We contacted the Symes daughter & grand daughter …
    The life of Ed Work is honored, and remembered.


    Susan & Cyndi Prokop

  • Sherry Adams says:

    Linda & Family~
    I am so very sorry for your loss. It has been such a pleasure over the years getting to know Ed on Maui and he will be missed by us all! My thoughts and prayers are with you~ Aloha Sherry

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