Samuel Ewing loved to laugh. Those who knew him say he loved making other people laugh even more.
During a recent trip to visit his father at Sunrise Assisted Living of Edmonds, a staff member grabbed Sam Ewing Jr.’s arm and told him his father was giving her a hard time. The news surprised Ewing. His dad was usually in a good mood.
“Dad looked up with a grin on his face and he looked right into her eyes for quite some time and then he wiggled both of his ears,” he said. “She just broke out laughing and she looked at me and said, ‘He’s been doing that to me all day.’”
During his father’s memorial service on Oct. 8, Ewing said the characteristic ear-wiggle showed that even during his father’s last days, he knew how to make others smile.
A life-long Edmonds resident, Samuel Ewing died Sept. 29. He was 89.
He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Evelyn Yost Ewing, their two children, Sam Ewing, Jr. and Debbie Duvall, six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by one son, Nicholas Ewing.
Ewing was born on Aug. 20, 1920, in Denver, Colo., to Margaret and Walter Ewing. The family moved to Edmonds before Ewing started school.
Ewing met his future wife while they were both students at Edmonds High School. They started dating and married on March 28, 1941, in Edmonds.
After high school graduation in 1939, Ewing entered the University of Washington to study electrical engineering. His studies were cut short when he decided to enlist in the Army on Dec. 7, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.
“He was supposed to be a pilot, but the Army wanted him for intelligence instead,” Duvall said.
He served for two and a half years, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was discharged after his legs were damaged by frostbite. He earned the Bronze Star Medal for his service.
“They wanted to take off his legs,” his friend Phil Smart said. “Sam said, ‘Absolutely not.’ That’s our Sam. That’s his style.”
They wore the same uniforms but fought on different continents during World War II, Smart said at the memorial service. After the war, in 1946, Ewing and his wife started Ewing Electric in downtown Edmonds and they offered Smart a job with the company. The Ewing, Clark and Smart families were friends who “got together every Christmas and in between” Smart said.
“There were laughs, giggles, hilarity for forever and ever plus two weeks,” he said.
Ewing valued work and those he worked with at Ewing Electric, his children remember.
“He would tell stories to his family, to his friends about the people he worked with,” his son said. “Dad truly enjoyed the people he worked with.”
He loved the company and the people but would always make time for dinner with his family, Duvall remembered.
“He never missed a family dinner,” she said. “I found out later that he would return to work and stay there until midnight.”
Ewing enjoyed golfing and was a long-time member of the Everett Golf and Country Club. He loved to snow and water ski, and shared this passion with friends and family during trips to Sun Valley, Idaho and Lake Chelan. As a grandfather, he loved jumping on the trampoline. He couldn’t resist a sugar cookie.
His favorite toast at family events was ‘Aren’t you glad they didn’t make raisins out of those grapes,’ Duvall said.
He battled lymphoma almost 30 years ago and it seemed like he could “positively think his way out of anything,” she added.
Ewing often shared his optimism with the people around him.
“I think if dad left us with a message it might have been: Love one another, reach out and help somebody and don’t forget the small everyday kindnesses such as a smile, or a kind word,” Ewing Jr. said.
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491, firstname.lastname@example.org.