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Colorful Islander Gene Amondson dies

Gene Amondson, next to his car that was often seen around Vashon. - File photo
Gene Amondson, next to his car that was often seen around Vashon.
— image credit: File photo

Islander Gene Amondson, 65, an artist, preacher and two-time presidential candidate, died at Harborview Medical Center on Monday, July 20, two days after officiating the marriage of a couple at Fern Cove and spending time at Strawberry Festival.

Amondson, who had high blood pressure, suffered two strokes late in the day Saturday, July 18, and fell into a coma he never came out of. But family members choose to remember their vivacious father at his best — "baking pies, painting and making people laugh," his son Nathan Amondson said.

"Our father was one of the most colorful and exuberant people," Nathan said. "He was generous and giving, always trying to help people out as best he could. ... He loved to be in front of people, making them laugh. That was his greatest joy."

Amondson, a strong believer that alcohol is responsible for some of the ills of society, was a candidate for president in 2004 and 2008 on the Prohibition Party slate.

Though he didn't come close to winning, his tenacity spoke volumes to those around him.

"He always encouraged us to do the impossible," Nathan said. "It was his biggest mission — the fight against alcohol. He thought that was really something that plagued America and Vashon Island, and he wanted to do everything he could to get rid of it."

In his crusade against alcohol, Amondson drew much national attention, appearing on the Oprah Show and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, spreading his message to "get on the water wagon."

The cheerful father of four — who was growing out his beard to be Santa Claus this Christmas — will also be remembered as a chainsaw woodcarver, whose larger-than-life sculptures from wood are scattered across the Island.

"He helped to put Vashon Island on the map with his very colorful and unique carvings," Nathan said. "He decorated the Island with his statues."

He was also a high-profile resident because of the way he got around town — in a Honda civic that sported a fake deer's head and a license plate that encouraged sobriety. More recently, he took to getting back and forth between town and his home next to the Country Store on a Segway motorized scooter.

Amondson was also "a huge pie maker," Nathan said, so it made sense to hold a pie and ice cream social following his funeral services this weekend.

"He loved making pies, so we thought that would be a great way to honor him," he said. Amondson's favorite pie, he added, was marionberry.

A Vashon resident for 30 years, Amondson was preceded in death by his father, Owen "Red" Amondson, and son Joshua. He is survived by his mother Ruby Amondson-Hancock of Centralia, brothers Jerry Amondson of Tempe, Ariz., and Neil Amondson of Centralia, sister Dawn Adkisson of Portland, and children Nathan, Andrew, Isaac and Rachel Amondson, all of Los Angeles.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 25, at Bethel Evangelical Free Church, at 14736 S.W. Bethel Lane on Vashon. Funeral arrangements will be made by Island Funeral Services. The service will be followed by a pie and ice cream social.

The family encourages people to share their memories of Amondson on his Web site: www.geneamondson.com.

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