Editor’s note: “The Rising” was published on May 30, 2014, just 69 days after a devastating mudslide near Oso, Washington, wiped out a rural neighborhood and killed 43 people. This is the original text and reflects the information that was available at the time.
Ron deQuilettes loved to help others. The electrician was working on a house owned by Larry and Sandy Miller when the mudslide hit.
DeQuilettes, 52, was an active member of Park Ridge Community Church in Bothell, and often traveled overseas to do missionary work.
He is survived by his wife, LaRae; their four children — Ashlee, Allyn, Arie and Audra; two grandsons; his parents, Frits and Gerda, of Phoenix; a sister and two brothers.
His wife and children knew him as a creative, hard-working man with a passion for helping others.
Born in the Netherlands, DeQuilettes came to the U.S. as a young child with his parents. He graduated from Lynnwood High School, and attended Seattle Bible College, where he met LaRae. He took over his father’s company, Dutch Electric Inc., in the early 1980s.
Tom Durnell, 65, was as comfortable dancing the Texas two-step as listening to Verdi’s “La Traviata” opera.
He helped build theater stage sets and was an avid fan of classic country music, such as Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. His music collection included more than 10,000 songs, spanning the genres of country, rock, jazz and opera.
He met his wife, Debbie, at a country dance club in Everett eight years ago. It was love at first sight. They never spent a weekend apart after that.
During college in Eugene, he studied theater design for his dream job at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in the 1970s.
For most of his career, he worked as a carpenter. Durnell was a master woodcrafter who took joy in making handmade wooden bowls, jewelry boxes and other woodwork for family and friends.
Julie and Adam Farnes
The Farnes family quickly took a liking to their new Oso neighborhood, one of those places where people knew each other. Julie Farnes and her husband, Jerry, retired about a year ago and moved from Cordova, Alaska, to Steelhead Drive. Son Adam left his job as a police dispatcher and came along.
Julie Farnes was 59. Adam was 23. Jerry Farnes was away from the house. Julie and Adam are also survived by son and brother Garrett, and stepson and halfbrother Brian.
Julie Farnes spent more than 25 years as the only UPS carrier in Cordova.
“She literally didn’t know a stranger,” said Dixie Lambert, a friend from Cordova. Julie Farnes was well known for quilting and apple pie. The 5-foot-3 California native knew how to hunt and bagged her own moose.
Adam Farnes worked at Mountain Lion Glass, a business owned by neighbors Shane and Katie Ruthven, who died in the mudslide with their two sons.
Adam enjoyed hiking and hunting. He also played banjo, bass guitar and drums. “He always made you feel good,” said Kellie Howe, a friend from Darrington. “He’d do anything for anybody. That’s just the kind of guy he was.”
Bonnie Jean Gullikson
Whether it was bowling, fishing, knitting or entertaining, whatever Bonnie Jean Gullikson did, she did it with gusto.
“She was a go-getter,” said her daughter, Bobbi Aylesworth. “There wasn’t a thing my mom couldn’t tackle.”
Gullikson, 91, was napping when the mudslide swept away her home. She was the slide’s oldest victim. Larry, her husband of 55 years, was outside. He was seriously injured and faces a long recovery.
The couple traded city life in Bothell for the 15-acre farm in Oso. Aylesworth and her family spent so much time there that they moved next door in 1977.
Known as Grandma, Bonnie welcomed the company of her 11 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren and 23 great-great-grandchildren.
A houseful of kids was fine. She drew the line at flying mammals.
One night a bat flew down the home’s river rock chimney. The next night it happened again. That was it. The next day, while Larry was at work, she knocked down the chimney, framed in the hole, put up the drywall and mudded it, all by the time he got home.
Mark Gustafson, 55, was a father of four who worked as a carpenter.
His home on E. Steelhead Drive stood only a few hundred feet from the North Fork Stillaguamish River and its legendary fish runs. After a day of work framing houses, Gustafson would come home to enjoy the outdoors.
“My dad loved fly fishing,” said his daughter, Mindi Peake of Fort Lee, Va. “He loved that area.”
In addition to Peake, his survivors include sons Casey, Jeremiah and Joshua Gustafson; eight grandchildren; several siblings; nieces and nephews.
“He definitely loved all of us,” said middle son Jeremiah Gustafson of Fort Collins, Colo. “He loved where he lived. He loved to fly fish pretty much more than anything.”
Gustafson’s border collie, Lefty, also was found in the debris and was buried in the yard of some friends.
Gustafson grew up in Belt, Mont., a prairie town of about 600 people where he lived until moving away in the 1980s. His family held a private service for him there at 10:37 a.m. April 19 — four weeks to the minute after the slide.
Steven Hadaway, 53, was the type of person who always watched out for others first.
Hadaway was found May 22, after formal recovery operations had ended. His brother John Hadaway said he would want the search for Kris Regelbrugge to continue until she is found.
Steven Hadaway was in Oso to install a satellite dish on the roof of Amanda Lennick’s house.
He moved to Darrington seven years ago because he loved rural life, often sending his brothers pictures of Whitehorse Mountain and the local countryside.
A Marine, Hadaway had a softer side, as well. He and his wife, Margaret, were foster parents and adopted three children, one a special-needs boy who died at age 6.
Jerry and Gloria Halstead
Jerry and Gloria Halstead lived in the Everett area during their years with the Boeing Co. In retirement, they settled in a place they loved, along the North Fork Stillaguamish River.
Jerry Lee Halstead, 75, was an angler. His wife spent hours reading, doing jigsaw puzzles, and enjoying walks in the woods near the home they rented on E. Steelhead Drive.
The couple were married 32 years, Gloria Halstead’s daughter, Sonja Rew, said.
Gloria Jean Halstead, 67, was the mother of Rew and Manfred Key Jr.
Jerry Halstead is survived by four sons, all of Snohomish County. Together, the couple had a dozen grandchildren.
Jerry Halstead grew up in the Everett area. His wife was born in Germany, where her father was stationed in the military. She moved to the Seattle- Tacoma area as a girl.
They had been retired at least 10 years. Rew said they both had strong opinions and shared a love of the quiet life and the outdoors.
They often traveled to Jameson Lake in Eastern Washington, where Jerry Halstead fished for trout. After retiring, the Halsteads spent time in Alabama with Rew and their grandchildren there. About five years ago, they moved to E. Steelhead Drive. They “were where they really wanted to be,” Rew said.
Fourteen-year-old Denver Harris loved growing up in a small town.
He hiked the trails, explored the snow and swam in the river. He brought BB guns down to the woods and wielded sticks as if they were swords. He played sports, as most Darrington kids do, and especially liked basketball and football. He thought he might join the Army and see the world one day, but for a kid, small-town life had it all.
Denver was alone in his former stepfather’s house on Steelhead Drive when the slide hit. Brian Lester was out running errands that morning.
Denver’s mother, Randi Lester, is a fourth-grade teacher at Darrington Elementary School. She and her son were close, often traversing the outdoors together.
“They made me go to the top of mountains,” recalled Justin Draper, Denver’s cousin.
Denver was a big Seahawks fan. On school spirit days he wore Seahawk green and blue instead of Logger green and yellow. He told jokes and goofed off, but also participated in chess club and helped younger classmates with homework.
In the slide’s aftermath, family members and friends made shirts that said “Hope for Denver” and wrote “D.M.H.” — for Denver Matthew Harris — on their hands and wrists.
Above all else, classmate Jorjah Johnson wanted people to know one thing about Denver: “He was loved,” she said.
—Quinn Russell Brown
Steve Harris and Theresa DeShazo Harris
Steve Harris was texting his nephew, urging him to visit his cabin along the North Fork Stillaguamish River.
That was the last time Harris was heard from. It was just before the mudslide hit.
Steve Harris, 52, and his wife, Theresa DeShazo Harris, 53, were the last victims found in the debris before the active recovery operations were suspended in late April.
The Edmonds couple were spending time in the Oso cabin.
Steve was an avid angler who enjoyed being outdoors. His sister Robyn Dombroski said she took comfort in knowing he was in the part of the world he loved best.
Theresa DeShazo Harris ran a Facebook page called “Listen to Love.” She often posted fantasy-style photographs influenced by the natural world along with spiritual or inspirational messages.
Steve Harris grew up in south Texas. He relocated to Washington to work as a project manager for Elliott Bay Design Group, a Seattle-based marine architecture and engineering firm, about 15 years ago. He is survived by two daughters, both in their early 20s.
Christina Jefferds and Sanoah Violet Huestis
Christina Jefferds was a cherished wife, loving mother and grandmother. She was a valued office manager for a Marysville dentist.
Caring for her baby granddaughter, Sanoah Violet Huestis, was a labor of love. Jefferds, 45, and 4-month-old Sanoah were together at the family’s Steelhead Drive home on March 22. Both were lost in the mudslide.
Sanoah’s mother, Natasha Huestis, was living with her mother and stepfather, Oso volunteer firefighter Seth Jefferds. Huestis and Seth Jefferds were away from home that Saturday morning.
Huestis, 26, will be forever grateful that her mother helped her be a stay-at-home mom after Sanoah was born last Halloween. “I had Sanoah every day,” Huestis said.
Christina Annette Jefferds was a 1987 graduate of Arlington High School. She had worked 14 years for Dr. Kelly Peterson, where she was the Marysville dentist’s office manager. “The void she leaves in our office, like the void in our hearts, will be hard to fill,” Peterson wrote on his office website.
Christina and Seth Jefferds married in 2007, but Huestis said her mother and stepfather had been together 20 years. As a grandmother, Jefferds was Sanoah’s “Tutu.” And Sanoah’s first name was Hawaiian for “mist in the mountains.”
“Together they will remain Mist in the Mountains,” Sanoah’s obituary said. She was the mudslide’s youngest victim.
Amanda Lennick, 31, had recently purchased her first home along Steelhead Drive. The only problem she had was that the water heater wasn’t working.
Contractors were installing a new heater and a satellite dish when the mudslide hit. They all were killed.
Lennick was a 2006 graduate of Washington State University’s nursing program. In 2005, she and other students had traveled to Louisiana to assist evacuees from Hurricane Katrina.
She had started working for Providence Regional Medical Center Everett about eight months before the slide. Her job was to review medical records to ensure they accurately reflected patient treatments.
A coworker at Providence said that she had been very happy to be living in her own home.
Shelley Bellomo and Jerry Logan
Shelley Bellomo and Jerry Logan found happiness in their home in the quiet river valley.
The couple moved from Seattle to the Steelhead Drive neighborhood of Oso about 20 years ago.
Bellomo, 55, was a sweet friend. Logan, 63, was a skilled handyman.
Locals called him “Hippie Jerry” in a playful way, a nickname acknowledging his long gray ponytail and laid-back nature.
Logan was always ready to lend a hand. He was known as a skilled worker who repaired homes and fixed cars. A graduate of Seattle’s Ballard High School, he had served in the U.S. Army before running a successful carpet installation business for many years.
“Your friendship was so appreciated,” Arlington’s Cecilie Drege wrote in the online guestbook accompanying Logan’s obituary. “You were a good man, a kind man, a talented man.”
His family said he enjoyed the rhythms of country life and grew ever closer to Bellomo in their time in the valley.
Bellomo had lived in Maryland, New Jersey, Nevada and Seattle, but her favorite place was Oso.
She loved watching bald eagles along the North Fork Stillaguamish River, and would call her father to share news of Steelhead Drive. Neighbor Ruth Hargrave said if Bellomo saw you, she would “give you a big hug.”
“She was a sweet friend,” Darrington’s Gretchen Ensley wrote in the guestbook with Bellomo’s obituary. “She will be missed.”
—Julie Muhlstein and Eric Stevick
Linda McPherson was a champion of literacy and of children. A retired branch manager of the Darrington Library, she had also served nearly two decades on the Darrington School Board.
The daughter of George and Ethel Mahlum, she was born in Arlington on Jan. 6, 1945, and raised on a Darrington-area farm. Her girlhood home was close to the house where she and her husband raised two children, Eric and Kate.
McPherson, 69, was home with her husband, Gary “Mac” McPherson, on March 22 when their home was slammed by the torrent of mud. Mac tried to help his wife and was rescued.
Linda McPherson loved Darrington and the Stillaguamish Valley. She graduated from Darrington High School, where in four years she never missed a day.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in oceanography from the University of Washington, she spent a decade as an oceanographer. She met her husband in Nome, Alaska, while working on a research ship. They were married in 1969. When the time came to raise a family, they moved home to Darrington.
McPherson worked 28 years for Sno-Isle Libraries. Retired Granite Falls librarian Lynette Howard said she decided to serve on the Granite Falls School Board because of her friend’s example. “Linda was my inspiration,” Howard said.
Joseph Miller loved fishing. He often could be found with his father along riverbanks, casting a line and soaking in the outdoors.
The pair had a special relationship. Joseph lived with mental illness. In his obituary, his mother, Maralee Hall, described him as “a very gentle, caring person” and “a nature person.”
Miller, 47, lived with his dad, Reed Miller, on Steelhead Drive.
Reed Miller, 75, said his son was intelligent and fairly independent. Reed Miller was in town buying groceries when a woman at the checkout counter asked him whether he had heard about the mudslide. He tried in vain to reach his son by cellphone.
“I never made it home,” he said. At the time, Joseph Miller was waiting to find out whether an apartment for people living with mental illness or disabilities would open up.
Family members and friends joined Reed Miller at a graveside service and attended a reception afterward at Arlington’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.
Larry and Sandy Miller
Larry and Sandy Miller were devout Christians who put their beliefs into action every day, serving as role models for others.
The Millers were building a home along the Stillaguamish River to enjoy in retirement. The couple had already invited friends from church to visit their new place this summer, and they hoped to host church retreats in the future.
They were working on the house along with their electrician, Ron deQuilettes, when the landslide occurred.
A roofer by trade, Larry, 58, had done much of the work on the house with friends and family. He even designed the layout.
The land along the Stilly reminded Sandy, 64, of her childhood in Alaska.
The couple owned a roofing business, Seattle Roof Advisor, and attended Northshore Christian Church in Everett, volunteering as leaders in two different ministries.
Stephen Neal, 55, was a devoted family man who ran his own plumbing business in Darrington. He was working with his friend Bill Welsh installing a water heater at Amanda Lennick’s home on Steelhead Drive when the mudslide occurred.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Neal grew up on Whidbey Island. After marrying, he and his wife, Brenda, moved to Darrington to raise three children.
As his children grew up and had families of their own, Neal became a doting grandfather, entertaining his grandchildren with stories, catching frogs with them near the river, and hosting the extended family for barbecues and camping trips.
Michael Pearson, 74, was a former police officer who retired to Steelhead Drive because he loved the quiet life.
Pearson served in the U.S. Marine Corps before joining the Everett Police Department in 1972. He served for 15 years, retiring in 1987.
His fellow officers knew him as a straight-talking and dependable cop, a good backup to have along if things got physical.
As a police officer, he was known as a good marksman and a good teacher of procedures.
Pearson was an avid hunter and fisherman, part of what drew him to the quiet neighborhood east of Oso.
Summer Raffo, 36, loved the country life surrounded by friends, family, Arabian horses and Yorkshire terriers.
The Darrington woman — known for her punctuality and her work ethic — was driving on Highway 530 to a job shoeing horses in Trafton when the slide swept her blue Subaru 400 feet off the roadway and swallowed it in mud. Her family feared the worst right away: Raffo was never late for an appointment.
She was one of 13 children, biological and adopted.
Hundreds of people attended her memorial service.
Raffo grew up as a quiet tomboy. She amassed a large circle of friends through church, her love of horses and working at a mill, on farms and in school.
She was adopted as a baby. From the day she was brought home, Raffo was never too far from her mother, Rae Smith.
“I’m so sad,” Smith said after the memorial service. “But I need to remember that the entire community lost someone special, not just me.”
John and Kris Regelbrugge
Navy Cmdr. John Regelbrugge III loved going to sea.
“He was the consummate professional, and his expertise was unparalleled,” said Navy Region Northwest chaplain Capt. John A. Swanson, who served alongside Regelbrugge on the USS Abraham Lincoln. “He had a quick wit and a good sense of humor. But above all, he genuinely cared about his sailors.”
Regelbrugge, 49, and his wife, Kris, 44, were at their Steelhead Drive home the morning of the slide. Kris Regelbrugge is the last of the missing.
John Regelbrugge was the officer in charge of the Everett maintenance detachment of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. He was two years from retirement. Regelbrugge served 32 years in the Navy, with 20 of those years at sea, including 13 different deployments.
The Regelbrugges, native Californians, are survived by their adult children: two daughters, Sara and Shante; three sons, Kyle, Scott and Brian; as well as two grandchildren. The family especially enjoyed being outdoors, including riding motorcycles, fishing, hiking and raising chickens.
— Gale Fiege
Shane, Katie, Hunter and Wyatt Ruthven; JuDee and Lewis Vandenburg
Shane and Katie Ruthven were building a beautiful life along the banks of the North Fork Stillaguamish River.
Wed in 2007 after falling in love online, the couple were raising two boys, Hunter, 6, and Wyatt, 4. They’d lived along E. Steelhead Drive for about seven years. Their next-door neighbors were Shane’s mother and stepfather, JuDee and Lewis Vandenburg, who’d moved from Spokane.
Katie Ruthven, 34, was one of four children raised by Karen and Tom Pszonka, a retired Snohomish County sheriff’s sergeant. She was a graduate of the University of Washington and Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek. Shane Ruthven, 43, grew up in Spokane, where he graduated from Ferris High School. He served in the Navy for four years and then went into the glass business.
Katie worked for a time as a paralegal in Everett, but for the past several years she and her husband had run Mountain Lion Glass, a business that replaced windows in buildings. She was a regular volunteer at Kent Prairie Elementary School, where Hunter was a student. Shane coached him in football. Both boys loved the outdoors, particularly riding quads.
Lewis Vandenburg, 71, and JuDee Vandenburg, 64, had recently marked their 36th wedding anniversary. He had served in the Marine Corps, including time spent in Vietnam. He worked for many years as a welder, followed by 15 years as a corrections officer. He retired from the Airway Heights Corrections Center in Spokane County in 2011. JuDee Vandenburg had worked in a variety of retail jobs and reportedly enjoyed most her time as a florist.
By all reports, the adults in the Ruthven and Vandenburg homes spent their time doting on the boys and enjoying the freedom of their rural lifestyle along the river’s edge.
“The American dream, I’m telling you,” Tom Pszonka said.
Thom and Marcy Satterlee; Delaney Webb; Alan Bejvl
The mudslide that crashed down on the home of Thom and Marcy Satterlee brought a tragic end to two love stories.
Delaney Webb, the Satterlees’ granddaughter, was visiting that morning, along with her fiance, Alan Bejvl. The couple were planning an Aug. 16 wedding at the home along the North Fork Stillaguamish River.
The Satterlees had been married for 41 years. He often referred to his wife as “my better seven-eighths.”
Bejvl, 21, graduated from Darrington High School in 2011. He grew up in a family that valued time together. No matter the occasion, whether joining his family for a weekend picnic or summer backpacking trips with his brother, John, 25, or sister, Lisa, 23, the outings always ended the same way.
“We never said goodbye,” said his mother, Diana Bejvl. “We say, ‘I love you’ and ‘See you later.’ ”
An avid four-wheeler, Alan Bejvl planned to bring Webb to the wedding on his yellow quad, nicknamed Bumblebee.
Webb, 19, first met her future fiance during shop class. They later reconnected on Facebook, and their romance deepened.
“She was so happy with Alan,” said her mom, Nichole Webb Rivera. “He was a great guy. What a good man.”
“It’s an age-old love story,” Diana Bejvl said. “That kind of love is what you want for your kids.”
Marcy Satterlee, 61, was a painter, potter, crafter, cook and gardener. She met her future husband while working at a credit union when he came in and opened an account.
“They were the yin and yang,” said Debbie Satterlee, Thom Satterlee’s sister.
Thom Satterlee, 65, was best known for a quixotic campaign to carve a new government he called Freedom County from a 1,000-square-mile area in Snohomish County.
He had lied about his age to join the Marines at 16. Sent to Vietnam, he was wounded and received a medical discharge. He carried emotional scars for decades before being treated for post-traumatic stress.
“After he was treated, he came back to being the brother I remember in the younger years,” Debbie Satterlee said. “He was warm and outgoing. Always cheerful and helpful.”
Lon Slauson was getting ready to sell his Steelhead Drive home and move to Montana.
He was counting down the few remaining weeks until he’d be bound for Big Sky country, said his coworker Brad Nordquist.
Slauson, 60, died in the mudslide.
“We have a lot of people who are affected by this,” said Nordquist, who worked graveyard shifts at Arlington’s Medallion Hotel with Slauson. “He was an awesome guy. He was super nice, always friendly.”
Slauson, who had served in the military, watched out for fellow employees, Nordquist said. He often walked people to their cars at night.
Slauson started working security after he retired from his career as cement mason. He joined Western Washington’s Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association Local 528 in 1975. That’s the same union his father, Donald Slauson, has been part of for 60 years. One of Slauson’s sons, Daniel Slauson, also picked up the family trade.
Lon Slauson is survived by his parents, Donald and Mary Slauson, of Elma; his sons, Ronald and Daniel Slauson; and his daughter, Rachel Catlett.
Billy, Kaylee and Brooke Spillers; Jovon ‘Jojo’ Mangual
At the time of his death, Navy Chief Petty Officer Billy L. Spillers, 30, was serving as command career counselor with the Everett maintenance detachment of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
The Pennsylvania native enlisted in the Navy in 2002. Aboard the Everett-based USS Momsen, he was named “Destroyer Squadron 9 Sailor of the Year” for 2009. He was a 2008 graduate of Strayer University, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
On the morning of the slide, Billy Spillers; his daughters, Kaylee Spillers, 5, and Brooke Spillers, 2; and his stepson, Jovon “Jojo” Mangual, 13, likely were watching TV when the mud swallowed their home.
Son Jacob Spillers, 4, was rescued from the mud; the children’s mother and Spiller’s wife, Jonielle Spillers, was not home at the time.
Jovon’s classmates from Post Middle School wore yellow shoelaces, the seventh-grader’s favorite color, to his memorial service in Arlington. He also enjoyed sports and played football. Kaylee had not yet started school.
The family moved to Oso two years ago. The Spillers celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary in November.
At a memorial service at Naval Station Everett in April, fellow sailors talked about Billy Spillers, recalling his hard work, ethical standards and willingness to help others.
—Rikki King, Andrea Brown, Gale Fiege
Ward was a family woman. Her warm spirit put people at ease, said Vickie Bligh, a longtime friend.
Ward, 58, died in her Steelhead Drive home. Her husband, Oso Fire Commissioner Timothy Ward, 58, was injured but survived.
The couple graduated from a Miami high school in 1973. They headed west to Washington, where they raised their daughters, Tiffany Burdette and Brittany Juarez.
Bligh worked with Ward for 20 years at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. Ward, the hospital’s cardiovascular lab secretary, kept the department running smoothly.
She had a background in nursing. Doctors often wanted her help and were willing to wait for it. Bligh recalled Ward’s kindness.
“She’d be so patient with somebody who was being obtuse,” Bligh said. “She was fabulous at the work she did. She did it and she did it well.”
The Wards moved to the peaceful place along the North Fork Stillaguamish River before Brandy retired about three years ago.
“It was her ideal spot,” Bligh said. “One of the things Brandy loved to do was walk the dogs along the river.”
William Welsh, 66, was an electrician who worked for Whitley Evergreen in Marysville for 20 years. He was getting ready to retire, and was at Amanda Lennick’s house in the Steelhead Haven community installing a water heater with his friend Stephen Neal when the slide hit.
Welsh was a Vietnam veteran known by family and friends as a giving man who never hesitated to help friends and neighbors.
He and his wife, Barbara, lived in Arlington and raised two sons. Welsh coached youth sports and played golf regularly.
On Friday nights, his and Barbara’s regular date night, their usual activity was league bowling. —Chris Winters