Frank Grant Chaffee was born in Brawley California on May 22, 1954 to James and Florence Chaffee. He had one sister, Katherine. He was raised in Fortuna in Humboldt County California. In 1984 he married Nancy Foster Johnson in Eureka, California. They first visited the San Juan Islands in 1985 and in 1986 their daughter Jessica Bright Chaffee was born in Fortuna. They visited Friday Harbor again in 1987 over the 4th of July week and decided to sell their California property and move up north, which they did in late August of 1987.
Upon arrival in the San Juans, Frank was subsequently diagnosed with Lyme’s disease so took a break from work to recuperate. In 1988 they moved to the San Juan County Park as caretakers, living in the log cabin at Small Pox Bay until 1992 when they moved across the road where they lived when their son James Porter Chaffee was born. Jimmy was named for both his paternal grandfather and his father’s Uncle Porter, a wonderful man who was born in 1900 and died in 1989 and was very close to the Chaffee clan.
After several years they moved into town to be closer to the schools for the kids. Frank was working as a volunteer firefighter most of that time, starting out at Sunset Point and was called out to the large Victoria Crossings fire on Guard Street in the early 90s. He also worked for the fire station off Egg Lake, as well as at King’s Marine.
In 2005 he was instrumental in saving the life of a 94-year-old lady on Marguerite Street in a fire at her home. He was working as the Training Officer for the San Juan Island Fire Department at the time. In 2006 he was awarded the “Everyday Hero” award by the Friday Harbor Kiwanis Club.
Eventually Frank moved to a small town called Tahuya in the southern tip of the Kitsap Peninsula, where he was the Fire Chief for 3+ years. Jimmy visited him down there and got to go on some fire calls with his Dad. Jimmy was also a volunteer firefighter in Friday Harbor and later went on to work as a seasonal wildland firefighter for the DNR for several years.
Frank returned to Friday Harbor to be near family and friends and took on a job as the recording officer for San Juan Title in Friday Harbor. He worked closely with the Eastsound office and had fun working with the ladies over there and all the people at the courthouse. He also worked on weekends at Roche Harbor in the summer months in customer service and you could see him driving around in a golf cart assisting the guests and employees alike.
He was friendly and well-liked and had a dry sense of humor that was appreciated by many. He leaves a big hole in the hearts of those who knew and loved him. He is survived by his two children Jessica Chaffee and Jimmy Chaffee, his two grand girls, Sienna Rose Bartlett and Capri D’Elyce Bartlett and all who knew and loved him.
A Celebration of Life will be held at Roche Harbor Pavilion on Sunday, September 16 from 2 to 4 p.m. and all are welcome. Come and share your memories.