Jim and Evelyn Fleagle at the Cascadia House c.1975

Jim and Evelyn, summer 1975.

Evelyn and Jim, c.1975. Note the tobacco pipe.

I’ve posted many photos of my Uncle Ben and Uncle Dick, two of my father’s brothers, but I haven’t posted one of their oldest brother, James Lincoln Fleagle, as an adult until now. He has appeared on this blog twice or so as a boy, and I have an early portrait from when he was a young man that I have scanned and will try to remember to link here after I’ve posted it. Here he is with Evelyn (née Goemaere), who married him so long ago that I grew up not knowing that she was his third wife. She has already appeared here in a 1951 photo with my grandparents.

These two photos came from my cousin Nancy and were probably taken in the summer of 1975; at least that’s when these prints were made. I am fairly confident that the interior shot above was taken at their house on Cascadia Avenue in Seattle; the second one is clearly outside that house in the front driveway. The “Cortez” is to this day the only specimen I have ever seen of this early motor home, although more than 3,000 of them were made between 1963 and 1979. A top-of-the-line luxury base camp on wheels is exactly the kind of thing you’d expect these two to own. I don’t know when they acquired it or how often (or even whether) they used it, but I remember seeing it at the house. Come to think of it, maybe this photo commemorates its addition to the family carriage house?

Jim and Evelyn with the Cortez in front of the Cascadia house c.1975. Note the tobacco pipe.

Jim and Evelyn with the Cortez in front of the Cascadia house c.1975. Note the tobacco pipe.

Jim moved out west from Baltimore after the war. He had already married once, when he was about 19 or 20 years old, to Jane Quinan, who appears here. I don’t know anything about that marriage or what happened to it, but the information I have is that he married his second wife, Geraldine Walker, before the war ended. My cousin Sue, Jim’s only biological offspring, is the happy result of that union, though that marriage too would end before the midcentury. Sue was born in Portland, Oregon.

Evelyn was a native of Ketchikan, Alaska, daughter of Henry Goemaere and Ira (De Pew) Goemaere, Flemish immigrants from Belgium. She was older than Jim by almost seven years, and lived to be 103. A few months before she died I had the good fortune to sit with her and converse, and she told me that the family had had to leave Alaska when her father lost their successful cannery business in a card game. In Seattle they started a nursery operation, growing and selling plants, which eventually became her life’s passion. At some point during the Depression she spent time roaming the southwest as a fruit picker, and as long as I knew her she was a grower and propagator of rhododendrons. She had three children when she married Jim, who had moved north from Portland to work for the Boeing Company.

Jim and Evelyn married in 1951 in Seattle, and she continued the nursery business, embarking on a lifelong quest to hybridize rhodies in such a way as to create a particular blue flower she wanted. Jim worked at Boeing to pay the bills and to bankroll a number of startlingly bold, large-scale projects involving buying and moving houses from one place to another on barges and bulldozing huge volumes of earth (in the time-honored idiom of Seattle pioneers), carving new spaces out of the northwest landscape for Evelyn to grow her shrubs in. He also restored pianos, built a wooden pleasure boat, bred German Shepherd dogs, and was interested in a million other things, all of which he discussed volubly and authoritatively with visitors in his booming voice, holding his tobacco pipe slightly to the side of his face.

I have lots of memories of the house at Cascadia, but I’ll treat that topic separately someday. For now, I just wanted to introduce you to an interesting couple. Jim died in 2000 at the age of 83. Evelyn died in 2013 having put more than a century behind her. It’s strange to think that both of their lives were half over by the time I was born, and yet I knew Jim nearly into my late 40s and Evelyn into my 50s. It speaks to the longness of life, despite the fact that after folks are gone the time seems to have been so brief. – mdf

Image archive ID:
Top image: 20160204-001_Evelyn_Jim_Cascadia
Bottom image: 20160202-009_Jim_Evelyn1975

About the physical photographs:
(Data provided by Nancy Stake-Reynolds)
Top photo: Kodak date-stamped “June ’75”
Bottom photo: Kodak date-stamped “July ’75”
From the collection of Nancy Stake-Reynolds

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