René Willy Tanner

May 26, 1959 – Oct 26, 2019


René died at home from a myocardial infarction aka: heart attack. An amazing multi talented man whose efforts helped bring about laughter and joy while tackling big projects. He was like a Human Swiss Army Knife incredibly intelligent, with a natural curiosity, a meticulous nature, a sense of the needs for the future, and an engineer’s eye for detail. He didn’t just “get the job done” he would listen and support whoever he came in contact with and led his maintenance staff at the Food Coop to bring all their creative energy to whatever tasks were at hand. René insisted on the quality of -Love and -Grace being added to the Coop’s Value statement: “We treat each other with civility and grace.”

René was the oldest of two brothers and a sister who were all born in El Salvador, Central America to Swiss parents. His father was an escalator and cable car installation technician and installed a zipline in their backyard with a kid sized cable car for René and the other children. When he was nine, the family moved to Switzerland, but René held onto a dream of returning to North America. In Switzerland he studied classical music, the organ, languages, book keeping and travel arranging. He became fluent in five languages and served in the Swiss Disaster Relief Unit in Mauritania, Africa. He came to the United States in 1985 and was thrilled to be able to build stuff and operate tractors, every kid’s dream! René was a jack of all trades, from tenant farmer of cows, bee keeper, algae and oyster technician at Coast Oyster hatchery in Quilcene, to being the Port Townsend Food Coop facilities manager extraordinaire!

René met his wife Lisa in 1989 on the doorstep of her father’s old Quilcene cabin, they talked non-stop for three hours on a dazzling and wide-ranging array of topics. He came back a week later to visit again and ended the evening with his first nude hot tubbing experience, late at night, under the Northern Lights. Just the two of them. He worked on renovating and remodeling houses with Lisa’s father where he picked up carpentry, plumbing and electrical skills. Lisa and René built their log home together over eight years and married in 2001 on the beach at Chetzemoka Park. They arrived by canoe, paddling themselves to and from the ceremony a fitting metaphor for their many years of working on things together. René was a staunch supporter and participant in trainings and events that had to do with, developmentally challenged adults, challenge course work, consensus building, social justice, non violent communication, Fierce Conversations, the Wisdom Council, the St. Labre Indian School in Ashland Montana, and Teaching Tolerance; a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. He deeply valued Marshall Rosenberg’s work and Jim Rough’s Wisdom Council work.

René is survived by his wife Lisa Madelle Bottomley of Port Ludlow, his first wife Ellen Tart, his father Willy Tanner, his two brothers Markus and Martin, four nieces and nephews in Switzerland along with his beloved sister Yvonne Tanner, whose health challenges growing up with cerebral Palsy helped shape René’s sensitivity to people with physical and emotional challenges. His family grieves deeply the loss of a dear sweet soul but know he is joining his much loved mother Nelly Tanner.

Expressions of financial support for the memorial service and outstanding hospital bills that René had can be sent to his wife, Lisa Madelle Bottomley, P.O. Box 127 Chimacum, WA 98325.

A Memorial Service will be held in Port Townsend at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Church, Saturday, November 30th at 2:30pm with a Reception and Pot Luck to follow from 4:00 to 6:00pm. René did love a good pot luck, please bring a dish, beverage or dessert to share (all are welcome).


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Jim Rough

Rene worked magic for the PT Food Coop and the community. ... For example in 2005 the board and management of the Food Coop were embroiled in hot conflict. As a concerned employee, Rene initiated a "Wisdom Council" to facilitate membership to get involved, solve basic issues and overcome the conflict. .... A new 20 min Youtube video describes what happened:

Thursday, November 14, 2019