John E. Friars, born in Tacoma to Clarence and Irene Friars on July 25, 1929, passed away peacefully at his Vashon home on July 17, 2019. He had a long life and would be the first to tell you what a good one it was. John possessed a positive outlook and an ability to see the best in everyone. He was a kind & thoughtful man with an endearingly goofy sense of humor and a lifelong love of learning. He was proud of his family.
John was a Tacoma boy, but his happiest memories were of summers on Vashon. He loved to tell stories about walking up the long hill from Rosehilla Beach to pick berries, and trading his daily wages for candy at the Dockton store. He and his wife, Ellie, moved to the Island full time in 1974 where they bought an old neglected cabin which they worked on for years, transforming it into a home and gathering place beloved by the entire family.
John spent most of his career at Boeing. He was especially proud of the work he did developing and instituting Boeing’s Equal Employment Opportunity and Pride In Excellence programs.
In retirement, he and Ellie loved to take extended road trips, birding and visiting wildlife refuges, family and friends across the US. At home, he was always available to visiting children to pick berries, walk on the beach or bang together an impromptu sword out of scrap lumber. John was a Master Birder and a popular field trip leader for Seattle and Vashon Audubon. His Island bird lists date back to the 1930s.
John is survived by wife Ellie; daughter Michelle Friars (Bruce Funkhouser); step-son Brent Napierkowski; nephew and special caregiver Mark Friars; niece Tracie Caldwell; grandchildren Ben, Johnny, Dakota and Courtney along with numerous in-laws, great-grandchildren & other nieces and nephews. The family is grateful to the Providence Hospice team and his many dedicated caregivers. There will be a memorial at the house on Sept. 15, 2019. The family suggests remembrances be sent to Vashon-Maury Island Audubon P.O. Box 838 Vashon, WA 98070.