Sons recall Wally Crippen of Forks: 'He was there for us'

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Wally Crippen, longtime Forks resident, logger, photo historian and decorated World War II veteran, also was a family man who relished fishing and camping trips with his family on the West End.

“We did a lot of that when we were young,” said his son, David Crippen, who lives near Forks.

“It was a cast-iron skillet, bacon grease and a few spuds.”

Wally Crippen died in Forks on Wednesday at the age of 90.

He fought in five major battles in World War II from 1942 to 1945, including on Utah Beach in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, said another son, Bill Crippen of Forks.

Wally Crippen earned a Service Medal and a Bronze Service Arrowhead for his role in the Allied invasion that swept across France and Germany in 1944, said Mavis Amundson, a Seattle author of several books on Clallam County history.

His historical photo collection is archived at the University of Washington Olympic Natural Resources Center in Forks, and many Crippen Collection photos are also in the University of Washington Libraries' digital archives, Amundson said.

Wally Crippen is survived by sons Wally Jr., 57, of Buckley; Bill, 55; and David, 53; a daughter, Beth Ann, 51, of Tacoma; seven grandchildren and one great grandchild.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Donna, and son Michael.

“He was a pretty simple guy,” said David Crippen, who added: “He was there for us.”

Bill Crippen said his father was a typical guy who took his children fishing whenever fish were in seasons and camping during the summer.

The family's outdoor excursions included a trip to Yellowstone National Park.

After high school, Bill Crippen helped his father work on a cutoff saw at the Allen Logging Co. mill in Forks that cut large logs into specific dimensions within seconds.

“It was kind of intimidating, at least for me, anyway,” Bill Crippen said.

Wally Crippen was born on June 16, 1922, in Burlington to Ira and Annie (Hodge) Crippen.

The family moved to the Hoh Valley when he was a young boy.

“It was a primitive life,” David Crippen said.

“There were no roads past Forks.”

Crippen logged and hauled logs until he went to work for Allen Logging in 1954. He married Donna when he was 32 and the couple decided to settle in the Forks area.

Wally Crippen took photographs on an Instamatic self developing camera while working at logging sites throughout Washington and into Oregon.

“He collected a lot of other people's photos, too, and tried to archive them,” David Crippen said.

“They're all preserved.”

Wally Crippen retired after working for Allen Logging for more than 30 years.

“After he retired, he was an avid gardener and helped raise his grandkids,” David Crippen said.

Amundson said Wally Crippen was a “very likable guy” with “a pleasant, upbeat personality.”

He could “name and identify trucks of all kinds, the brand, the make, the year” and “told great stories about logging accidents,” Amundson added.

A memorial service is planned for sometime in July, David Crippen said.

Drennan-Ford Funeral Home, Port Angeles, is in charge of arrangements. Find information at www.drennanford.com.

Last modified: May 06. 2013 6:09PM
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