Everett native recalled for restoring old tugboat

LAKE STEVENS — Philip Marvin Foubert Jr. stood at a familiar place not long before his death. Too frail to walk down the stairs, he gazed out at Port Gardner from a railing above the Everett docks.

“I think he had saltwater in his veins,” said his youngest daughter, Linda Reeves of Marysvill

e. “His life here was tied to the Port of Everett area.”

Philip Foubert died June 11 at the age of 89.

His life was intertwined with the history of Everett.

The American Boiler Works was his father’s business and it became his first home when he was born on Jan. 6, 1922. His parents and three sisters lived on the top floor of the building on Hewitt Avenue.

In 1928, the family moved to High Street, and Philip Foubert spent time with his younger sister, Connie, at local beaches.

He graduated from Everett High School in 1940. Shortly after, he served in the Army and married Shirley Scott at 19.

In the 1950s, he became a popular area race car driver and served as president and trustee of the Roadster Racing Association.

He later became a co-owner of American Boiler Works, a custom metal fabricator, where he worked until retiring in 1977.

The couple had three daughters, Jeanie Browne of Anacortes, Phyllis Wilbourne of Everett, and Reeves.

His self discipline was seen as a hallmark by his children, Reeves said.

“My dad didn’t need to raise his voice, he was just respected,” Reeves said. “You never wanted to disappoint him.”

One of his brother-in-laws, Fred Coffey, said he had a remarkable reputation in the community.

He had many interests, Coffey said.

Foubert restored his 1926 tugboat, the Nadine, and used the boat to take his family to Hat Island on vacations.

He purchased the boat for $600 in 1961. It had no engine and was in bad condition, but he had a vision.

“He took it apart and put it back together like a puzzle,” Reeves said. “He turned an old tugboat into a yacht.”

A small, dusty sign in his garage read: “Boat (BoT) n. — A hole in the water surrounded by wood into which one pours money.” It still hangs next to a poster-size, framed photo of the Nadine.

After his first marriage ended, Philip Foubert married Mary Burgett in 1969.

The two devoted their lives to each other until her death in 2008.

After Mary’s death, Reeves made her father a photo blanket with his favorite picture of Mary. The blanket had a life-size picture of her. It stretched out to his shoulder — the same height as his wife had once stood.

When Philip Foubert was staying at an assisted living home, a caregiver often noticed flashes of light coming from his bedroom.

He was shining a flashlight to look at the blanket on the wall.

“Her smile would be the last thing he would see before he fell asleep,” Reeves said.

Philip Foubert refused to stay at the nursing home regardless of his condition. He had things to do.

Reeves left small notes stuck to places in his kitchen as a helpful reminder. Philip Foubert could do anything that he wanted to do — but cook.

“Even when he got to the point where he couldn’t do much, he would do what he could,” Reeves said.

Lindsylee Wheadon: 425-339-3453; lwheadon@heraldnet.com.

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