Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Captain Campbell turned 100!

Lynn aboard the newly launched Shearwater in 1950
Captain Lynn Campbell, the founder of Seattle Harbor Tours (now Argosy Cruises) turned 100 years old on October 9th celebrating with family and friends at his waterfront home on Bainbridge Island. Lynn greatly enjoyed the proceedings as he was seated comfortably in a chair in his living room surrounded by not only his beloved family, which included many great grandchildren, but also friends from all over whose lives he had touched throughout the decades. Everyone had gathered to help celebrate his life WITH him and that is a remarkable moment in itself. At his 95thbirthday, many in attendance probably thought that the next time that they would be seeing each other would be at his memorial service. Instead there he was managing smile after smile, handshake after handshake and whenever possible, giving kisses to all the "pretty girls". He may not have been as clear on everyone’s names as he would have liked but he knew he was in the presence of people who loved him. 
There was one moment in particular that I've been thinking about ever since. As he sat in his chair next to the living room doors that were open out onto the veranda his guests, on cue, suddenly parted, clearing a path for his line of sight to reveal the 115 foot Spirit of Seattle (that Lynn built in 1987). The Spirit had made the trip out from Seattle just to honor him. Because of a very high tide and excellent boat handling from the captain the Spirit was able to approach very close to shore. Lynn then noticed longtime captains Don, Kenny, Ralph and Mike along with other old friends from Seattle Harbor Tours days holding a special  happy birthday banner which included photographs of him on it and signatures of many well-wishers. People sang "Happy Birthday" with a true sense of awe in their voices after which the Spirit sounded its horn numerous times. Lynn's eyes welled up with tears as he clasped his hands together.

He then raised a toast of champagne to salute the Spirit of Seattle and to everyone else. He didn't say a word but we all heard him loud and clear. The eyes of the Old Salt said it all. 
Thanking and toasting wonderful family and friends

His eyes spoke a thousand words that day
A few months ago I visited and took him a slideshow of the glory days of Seattle Harbor Tours in the 1980's and 90's. Afterwords Lynn grabbed my hand and said, "If I live to be 100 I'll never forget those days." I responded, "Well you're gonna be 100 in a couple of months so I sure hope you remember them until then". When I was saying goodbye to him on his 100th birthday it was my turn to grab his hand and I said, "Do you remember those fun days at Seattle Harbor Tours cruising all over Puget Sound?" He replied, "Nope." I said, "Really?" Knowing that he was kidding. He looked at me with a sly little smile and said, "I do remember this one guy who would jump off the boats all the time." (referring to me) He then smiled broadly. I said, "I knew you were a man of your word. You said a while back that if you lived to be 100 you'd never forget those days, and now here you are 100 years old today and you DO still remember. You are amazing." He then squeezed my hand tight, pulling me closer, and said softly but with more conviction that I have ever heard in his voice, "If I live to be 10,000 I'll never forget those days." I said, "Well you got the first 100 out of the way so you've only got 9,900 to go." He said very frankly, "Well I probably have a few more months at least." I then told him that I was so thankful for the experience of knowing him and that he had made a huge impact on my life and on so many other people.
I told him that he was deeply loved. And on this day especially, that fact was obvious.

Lynn with guests and famous barker and personality Rudy Becker

Lynn narrated more harbor tours than anyone in history

(passing Todd Shipyards back in the day...) "There's nothing more disorganized looking than a shipyard, but everything has it's place and it's purpose."

Giving Governor Ronald Reagan a turn at the wheel in 1974

Lynn and Alyce in 1987 with freshly welded together Spirit of Seattle in the background

Camp Sealth trip 1989

Lynn last year on his 99th birthday

Holding his daughter Charlotte's hand on his 100th birthday

Charlotte with her daddy

A kiss from granddaughter Chieko

When I first met these two, Lynn was 64 and Chieko was 6
Great granddaughter Whitney was also there (guess who her mom is?) :)

Lynn with long time Seattle Harbor Tours co-worker, office mate and all around amazing person Susie Starrfield

John Blackman stopped by to say hi.

Miles enjoyed his brief visit with Lynn

One of Lynn's longtime caregivers even jumped out of a cake and sand "Happy Birthday" with a Marilyn Monroe-esque tone

Lynn listening to grandson Hanz sing along with fellow performer Kathryn

Hanz is amazing (

A kiss from his grandson
Hands of the Old Salt

Lynn's hands were once strong enough to bring me to my knees during a handshake. His voice once powerful enough to command attention in any room or boat. His laugh once loud enough to envelope anyone within ear shot. And still to this day his heart is big enough to reflect upon, remember, appreciate and love the multitude of people and experiences that have woven themselves into this incredible life of his. He is comforted by the wonderful memories of a life well lived and the affection of family and friends whose lives he has become a special part of. He is fully aware that he soon will be sailing off into the sunset and all he has asked for is to be remembered in the prayers of those have come to know and love him..

Happy Birthday you "Old Knucklehead" and thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything. Forgetting you will be impossible. Remembering you will be easy and will bring great joy to me for the rest of my life. Why, if I live to be 100 years old, I'll never forget all the good times!


  1. I never met him, but this is a wonderful tribute that will be a treasure to his family.

  2. Hi wow.He looks great wish him well Tell HIm Happy Brthday for me This brings back memories I cry. I see The Harbor Tourister and the Goodtime on June 4 1974 with Ron Reagan Lynn always had me and my Brothers names mix up even 40 years ago when we worked for Hewitts Tillucum Village. He told Bill Hewitt "you cantt take it with You" i think Lynns trying to now . Bill passed in 2002. Best Wishes always. Tom Stauffer