Last month, Shannon Ware walked with a friend along a Whidbey Island beach on Useless Bay. They were walking their dogs, chatting.
Then they spotted a table caught on a sand spit.
Looking closer, Ware noticed a memorial plaque attached to the table.
“I took a picture of it because I figured it meant something to someone,” she said. At home, she started an internet search for the owner.
Meanwhile, back in Edmonds, City Deputy Parks and Recreation Director Shannon Burley worked on her own mystery.
“We had some vandalism at Olympic Beach, and during the clean up, we noticed a picnic table was missing.’”
The missing table, made of wood and metal, weighing around 250 pounds, had been located near the Edmonds Fishing Pier.
“We guessed that three our four strong individuals picked it up and tossed it into the water,” she recalled. “We thought it was too heavy to float.”
They went back at low tide to look for it. “We looked all around but it wasn’t there.”
On Whidbey, Ware saw that the plaque memorial was dedicated to Bill Nash. “Online, I came up with an obituary with that name and called the funeral home. They got in touch with the family, who then called me.”
Edmonds resident Gil Nash, younger brother of Bill (William), learned that his picnic table apparently drifted more than 13 miles across the water to land on that beach.
“I talked to the lady on Whidbey,” he said, “and the next time I get up there I’m going to pop in and buy her lunch or something.”
The Edmonds Parks and Rec folks visited Whidbey to check out the table and to bring Shannon Ware some flowers. Although the table was too damaged to recover, they did salvage the plaque and returned it to Gil Nash.
“I put it up in our cabin on Lopez Island,” he said. “My brother and I worked on the cabin together.”
A new picnic table has been ordered by the parks department, as well as a new plaque that will have the same wording as the original.
Nash, who has lived in Edmonds for 50 years and is a former Boeing engineer, says he walks the beach three times a week. He hasn’t seen the replacement table yet but he’ll keep an eye out, and looks forward to its arrival.
He’s grateful to those who went out of their way to save the plaque, including the “two Shannons. They were both outstanding,” he said.
Asked why she went the extra mile of trying to find the plaque’s owner, Ware said, “it just seemed like a thing anybody would do. It didn’t take much time at all.”
She’s amazed the table washed up where it did. “There had been no storms. It’s completely bizarre that it ended up here, but the story got pretty cool,” she said. “I’m a family person so this feels really good.”
— By Connie McDougall