Everett artist, aviation enthusiast and former airport commissioner Bernie Webber honored at Paine Field

  • <b>By John Wolcott SCBJ Editor</b>
  • Thursday, October 29, 2009 1:36pm

Everett native and internationally respected watercolor artist Bernie Webber, who died in 2006, lives on in the paintings and murals of his Snohomish County images.

From lighthouses to historical montages, Navy ships and Air Force aircraft, he celebrated his love for life in the Pacific Northwest.

In October, the latest reminder of Webber’s stature in his community was the naming of a new road to open up aviation development on the West side of Paine Field as Bernie Webber Drive.

An avid fan of aviation, Webber was one of the first pilots to use Paine Field, also known as the Snohomish County Airport, in the early 1930s. Later he served for several years on the airport commission. Deputy Airport Manager for Operations Bill Dolan recalls Webber’s great sense of humor, noting “he actually had us looking forward to each commission meeting because he was so humorous that meetings were never dull.”

Airport Manager Dave Waggoner said Webber “painted so much of this county that it’s hard not think of his artwork when visiting Paine Field or places such as the Mukilteo Lighthouse.”

Ceremony held at new Kilo 6 aviation museum

Fittingly, the ceremony was held in a new hangar where aviation enthusiast John Session’s restored aircraft collection will be displayed to the public beginning in March 2010.

The Historic Flight Foundation’s Kilo 6 hangar is one of the anchors to the future development of an area where Castle &Cooke will build their corporate jet headquarters and other aviation attractions will find a home in the coming years.

Webber’s wife, Joy, and many of their 10 children and their families attended the county’s Oct. 16 celebration to name the entrance road in his honor. Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon welcomed them and praised Webber’s numerous contributions to Snohomish County.

“Bernie Webber left his mark on the hearts of Snohomish county residents, including those who utilize Paine Field,” Reardon said. “It’s fitting that this new road be named in his honor. Bernie would have liked being a part of this, in a hangar with all of these aircraft around. Aviation was one of his favorite subjects. He gave so much of his life to the community with his illustrations and his dedication to the airport.”

Webber’s family recalls his love for aviation

One of Webber’s sons at the dedication, Richard, was the first of the family to offer remembrances of his father’s ties to Paine Field.

“There are a lot of memories for all of us about Paine Field because of Dad,” he said. “On Sundays we’d take a drive and he’d bring us out here to see all the planes. He also brought us to the annual airshows (held for many years at Paine Field). We all appreciate being able to celebrate this occasion in this new Historic Flight Foundation hangar.”

His daughter Barbara reminisced about her father picking her up to set her in aircraft at the airport.

“What an honor this is,” she said. “Aerospace and aerodynamics were really a part of our family while we were growing up. Dad loved this airport. I’ll always remember how he’d run out of the house to watch planes fly over and we’d talk about what kind of a plane it was.”

Born in 1923, he worked as a commercial artist in downtown Everett for decades before opening a fine arts studio in 1993 with clients that included Snohomish County businesses, nonprofits and government agencies.

Named Artist of the Year in 2004 by the Arts Council of Snohomish County, Webber also is remembered in the Rotary Club of Everett’s recently formed Bernie Webber Scholarship Endowment Fund for art students. Webber was a Rotary Club member for 53 years.

New road provides access to new aviation developments

The new Bernie Webber Drive at Paine Field is accessible at a new traffic light on the Mukilteo Speedway, extending east from the Speedway. Across the highway, the road connects to the Chennault Beach Road. An avid fan of aviation, and a pilot himself, Webber’s namesake road leads to the first development on the airport’s West side, the Heritage Flight Foundation’s Hangar Kilo-6, named for the taxiway outside the hangar.

John Sessions will open his air museum of famous 1927 to 1957 aircraft next March. Counting Paine Field’s Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour facility, the Seattle Museum of Flight’s Restoration Center, Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection and Bob Hammer’s Legacy Flyers’ replica Me-262 project, Session’s new aviation showcase will be Paine Field’s fifth major attraction for aviation and history enthusiasts.

A star among stars at the Kilo 6 display will be “Grumpy,” a B-25 that Sessions recently flew from England to Paine Field.

A later phase of the site’s development, which presently features two aircraft hangars, one of them used by Sessions, will be the new headquarters for Castle &Cook’s corporate jet charter business, now housed temporarily on the east side of the field near the airport offices.

“John Sessions and Roger Collins built the two hangars for $1.3 million, in exchange for rent credits,” said Bill Dolan, deputy manager for operations. “That jumpstarted the long-planned development of the area. We’re planning nine acres of airport compatible commercial development in the area, too, along with the Castle &Cook corporate aviation project that’s coming.”

Castle &Cook is primarily waiting for the current economic downturn to pass and a restoration of corporate aviation flying to make conditions right to expand their operations.

For more information about Historic Flight Foundation and the Kilo-6 air museum visit www.kilo6.org. For Paine Field information visit www.painefield.com. For more information on Bernie Webber and his involvement in Snohomish County history, visit www.painefield.com/bwebber.html.

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