Jim Traner dies at 76: Vietnam veteran played key role in creating Edmonds Veterans Plaza

Jim Traner

This story has been updated with memorial service information.

Jim Traner, an Edmonds community leader known for his contributions working on behalf of local veterans, died Saturday, July 22. He was 76 years old.

Traner suffered a sudden heart attack while out fishing, according to a social media post by Edmonds VFW Post 8870.

A Vietnam combat veteran, Traner was a past commander both of VFW Post 8870 and VFW District 2. In addition, he was a quartermaster, judge advocate and officer of the day for the post.

Traner was also a longtime member of Edmonds American Legion Post 66, holding several leadership positions and serving as the post’s financial officer for the past few years.

“His contributions were instrumental on our successful participation in many veteran-oriented community events,” said Dan Mullene, Post 66 commander.

Two fellow Edmonds Vietnam veterans who worked closely with Traner — Ron Clyborne and Michael Reagan — said that in addition to Traner’s efforts on behalf of the VFW, he played an instrumental role in developing the Edmonds Veterans Plaza, which is located outside the downtown Public Safety Complex.

During a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Memorial Day 2017, Clyborne noted that it was Traner who came up with idea for the Edmonds Veterans Plaza after realizing that Edmonds was the largest city in Snohomish County without a dedicated place to honor men and women who served.

Jim Traner at the Edmonds Veterans Plaza ribbon-cutting ceremony May 30, 2017. (File photo by Teresa Wippel)

Clyborne called Traner “an outstanding American veteran and Edmonds community member who leaves behind a meaningful legacy. He will be missed!”

Reagan said that “Jim was probably one of the best people that ever lived in this town as far as I’m concerned, adding: “What he did for people who called was respond. He didn’t ask why. He didn’t hestitate. He just did.”

It was fitting that Traner died while fishing, Reagan said, because it was “his favorite thing.” The day before Traner died, he posted a photo of his boat on Facebook, calling it “The View from the Office today.”

“I had a great deal of affection for that guy and I’m going to miss him,” Reagan said.

Former Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling described Traner as “a quiet, noisy leader. By that, I mean if he decided to become involved in something, you knew it would turn into something special.”

Earling, who was mayor during the time that the Veterans Plaza was envisioned and built, said Traner worked collaboratively “to put together a project that really would have an everlasting impact. It was done with taste, with quality and reflective of the importance of the veterans community,” he said.

Traner received a bachelor of arts in business administration degree with an emphasis in accounting from the University of Washington. A certified public accountant, he started Edmonds-based Traner Smith Certified Public Accountants in partnership with Ken Smith in 1994.

In addition to his work with veterans’ organizations, Traner was active in two Edmonds Rotary clubs. According to Mike Denton, Traner was originally a member of what was then known as the “Noon Club” (now the Rotary Club of Edmonds). Traner and Denton were among the charter members of a second Edmonds Rotary Club — Edmonds Daybreakers — which launched in 1996.

“Being our resident CPA, Jim was our treasurer for many of the past 27 years,” Denton said. “His role in Rotary was very much keeping us all on course financially and organizationally.” At the time of his passing, Denton said, Traner was still providing backup bookkeeping help for the Daybreakers club.

“I recently described Jim as a man who was never a casual member of any organization,” Denton continued. “If he was in, he was heavily involved and he has been heavily involved in several local groups, not to mention Traner and Smith, CPAs. He always had something to say about any issues and it was worth hearing.”

Stan Dickison, who served as Rotary District 5030 Governor during the first year of the Edmonds Daybreakers club, noted that Traner was District Treasurer at the time, “and kept me on the straight and narrow. He was a good friend.”

Memorial services for Jim Traner are as follows:

Edmonds Waterfront Center
220 Railroad Ave.
Tahoma National Cemetary

— By Teresa Wippel

  1. I’m extremely saddened to hear of Jim’s passing. Thankful I had the opportunity to call him a friend. RIP Jim.

  2. This is such sad news. Jim was a warm and positive person. A giver and a doer who left our community better than he found it. His absence will be felt in many places— and for a long time.

    1. I’ve known Jim for almost 50 years beginning in 1974 when I began my career at Laventhol & Horwath CPAs. He was senior to me and one of my first trainers, and taught me a lot in those early years. When we later went our separate professional ways he continued as my CPA and I truly enjoyed our long-standing relationship right up until our last conversation just one week ago. During all this time I never once saw a crack in his personal or professional integrity. I will miss his wry sense of humor and his spot-on, anecdotal observations about human nature! Godspeed Jim.

  3. Jim was also an integral member of the Olympic Fly Fishers of Edmonds for many years, and as with his other organizations, he served as our Treasurer. He was responsible for our starting our Foundation which is dedicated to Conservation and Education. He was a great guy who spent more time keeping our club financially straight than he had time for fishing. He will be greatly missed by our members. Tightlines Jim.

  4. Jim was also the long serving treasurer of the Olympic Fly Fishers of Edmonds. He was the glue that held our club together. His leadership and calm demeanor allowed us to grow to the successful club we are today. Personally, Jim was a great friend to me. His passing is a huge loss, both to me and the community. I will miss him deeply.

    1. Thank you, Randal and Robert for noting Jim’s association with the Fly Fishers as well. An obituary is forthcoming and I’m sure will include other many other contributions he has made during his life. — Teresa

  5. Jim’s service extended to his neighborhood as well. He made sure that neighbors who had served knew of the work of the VFW. He served many years as the auditor for the Woodsound Homeowners’ Association. Generally, Jim found a way to engage! His activism was exemplary!


  6. I did not know Mr. Traner and feel the lesser for that, after reading this article. There is much to be said for such a life well lived and passing while doing something one loved to do. RIP Mr. Traner and thanks for serving our country and the local sport fishing community that many of us enjoy so much here. Condolences to the Traner family and friends.

  7. Jim was a quiet man that led by example. I am grateful to have known him in life and will continue to be his friend in death, honoring him in all I do. RIP Jim.

    Steve Ruppert
    Olympic Fly Fishers of Edmonds

  8. Jim was a hero. His humility, sense of service and dedication to community were simply unparalleled. His wry laugh and sharp wit were welcome additions to those who had the pleasure of knowing him. Today I am pondering the possibilities he so willingly found in others and remembering that we must lean into the people and experiences we care about. Thanks for your service, passion & dedication Jim. We will take it from here.

    Aaron Greenmun
    Fellow Rotarian

  9. With a heavy heart, I offer my condolences to Jim’s family. We lost a community servant, leader and builder. I lost a CPA friend. I only got to know Jim Traner two years ago when I joined the Edmonds Rotary Club and met him at the joint BBQ event at the Edmonds City Park and many events since then, his firm handshakes and friendly smile will be in my memory.

  10. It was with great sorrow that I heard Jim had died. He helped me quite a bit after my husband, who was a Vietnam Veteran, died. He was always kind, thoughtful, and helpful whenever I had any question regarding the paver for Craig at the Veterans Plaza and my taxes. You will be missed my friend.

    Pat Ford
    Gold Star Wife

  11. Jim was a friend and fellow Vietnam Veteran. He was a great supporter of our efforts to raise funds for the Veterans Resource Center at Edmonds College.

  12. After moving to Edmonds, we made appointments at several accounting firms, wanting to find someone who would handle our business professionally and fairly. After meeting Jim, we cancelled the other appointments! We have benefitted from his advice and guidance since then. And our extended families continue to benefit by having pavers commemorating my father’s and father-in-law’s service at Edmonds Veterans Plaza, a project dear to his heart and now ours. Thank you, Jim.

  13. Jim will be missed but never forgotten. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with him the past 9 years and will cherish memories of everything from his witty banter, discussing the latest mariners game or delving deep into nuances of technical tax issues. He was the epitome of a professional and always set the tone of what it means and how to be a professional for associates in the firm. His legacy will live on. Rest in peace, Jim.

  14. I still beg, please wake me up from this nightmare. Jim can’t be gone. But he really isn’t because, he was so instrumental in most of our lives, that greatness will never just go away. I will miss you Jim and thank you for all you’ve done for most of us. Thanks for being a part of the energy for the Edmonds Veteran Plaza. As I said at the opening of that special place, this is home to a lot of us that served. Thanks.

  15. Dear Mr. Traner

    I don’t really have any where else to say this to you. I thought I got to you in time. I tried my best to keep you with us until fire and rescue could get there, but it just wasn’t enough I guess. Reading your story and seeing all of the people you have touched is inspirational. I am so sorry. Rest in peace.

  16. Just met with Jim in Mukilteo discussing ideas for a veterans Plaza for our city just last week. Jim, i’ll be sure to push on the good work.

  17. I became friends with Jim nearly 40 years ago serving on the Mukilteo Little League Board of Directors. Jim helped guide us out of a dismal financial position and ultimately built the organization into a fiscally strong position that allowed it to grow and prosper. Jim, as noted by others was hands on (dog with a bone), held strong opinions that were based in strong moral fiber and caring to do the right thing. Jim also could talk and talk and talk about anything, especially flying, fishing and his family. Jim touched many of us in profound and meaningful ways, always with a wry smile, an eye twinkle and a helping hand. I will always appreciate what Jim did for the youth of our area for years and how he transferred that commitment of time and energy toward veterans. He lived with grace and he did not buy green bananas! Rest in Peace Jim, you are missed.

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