‘Here to help’: Sailing community remembers Kendon Paegelow

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Generous. Enlightening. Loyal. Non-judgmental. Kind. Gentle.

Here to help.

As the setting sun created a pink display of clouds outside, many words were used to describe Kendon Paegelow, a lifelong friend of Port Townsend’s sailing community. Friends and family gathered at the Hasse & Co. sail loft on Oct. 24 to share stories and memories of their friend.

One theme embodied Kendon’s spirit — his desire to help anyone and everyone. 

“Kendon pretty much showed up the day we opened the sail loft and said, ‘I’m here to help,’ ” said Carol Hasse, owner of Port Townsend Sails. “He had two big dogs in tow, and was a man of size, and didn’t quite know how to speak in an inside voice. I didn’t know what to say, except, well, ‘Thank you.’ ”

Kendon was born in Wisconsin on March 11, 1943. After he served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, he received an honorable discharge. Instead of going back home, he traveled around the world and ended up in Port Townsend in the 1970s, and that’s when he met Hasse and her crew of sailmakers.

“Kendon, like all of us, really need to make our contribution to the world, whatever that might be,” said Hasse, who explained that Kendon didn’t need a job due to a disability, but he worked unfailingly at the sail loft, day after day.

“I have never met anyone who came to work every day and set down to do whatever he thought was needed,” she said. “He was among the most generous human beings I’ve ever known.”

Before she passed around a sailmaker’s fid handmade by Kendon so friends could share their stories, Hasse pointed out all the contributions that Kendon had made to the sail loft throughout the years. He he acted as “our Man Friday,” she said.

“Scissor holsters, benches, anything you can find in here, are because of Kendon,” added Alison HickenWood, who works at the sail loft. “These tables are Kendon, these systems of pulleys, they’re all Kendon.”

He was remembered for saving the sail loft from burning down, not once, but twice (maybe even three times). He was remembered for his love for animals, from grouchy cats to his beloved dogs, Gretchen, Ella, “Daaaarthhhh” and others. He was remembered for his boat, Indigo, that he built by hand. He was remembered as a savant, for his deep knowledge on every little thing, such as the inner-workings of a sewing machine. He was remembered for teaching patience, and his tendency for long, drawn-out answers. He was remembered for his friendship, his love, and his great bear hugs. 

Among all those things, Kendon was most widely known for his handmade bags, called “Kendon Bags.” Made from scraps of the sail loft, Kendon sewed patterns and designs into different colored sail material, and he turned them into durable tote bags that grew famous in the community. 

“Anybody who has these bags knows their strength, their value, their durability,” Hasse said. “They’re so much like Kendon; they’re made of whatever life throws at you. He gave more away then he ever sold.” 

Kendon died on Sept. 10, the day after the Wooden Boat Festival, at 75. He lived in Port Townsend for more than 40 years. Friends described him as a legend of Point Hudson, and a friend to all in the boating community. 

“Mother was always worried about Kendon because he did not dance to the regular tune,” said Sandra Lukic, Kendon’s older sister who traveled from Wisconsin for the memorial. “He was unique. Finally, he ended up here, and I came out here years ago to see how Kendon was doing. I went home and said, ‘Mom, Kendon is in the perfect place. Everybody loves him, and he is so happy.’ And that was true. You people are unique.”

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