Communities like Stanwood-Camano are like a fabric woven together by the faithful presence and common good contribution of her citizens. One of those faithful citizens who spent a lifetime weaving community and culture is Dave Eldridge. He taught History and Washington State history when I was a student at Stanwood Middle School. And he is the dad of my friend and classmate Jonathan. Here is Dave’s story.
David and Bobbie Eldridge moved to the Stanwood area in 1966 just after getting married. Dave had accepted a job teaching English and history at Lincoln Junior High School. When Stanwood Middle School opened he moved there and taught the rest of his career there. After he retired in the mid-1990’s he continued substitute teaching in the Stanwood School District for almost two more decades. During his time at Stanwood Middle School, he and John Galbreath, the other Eighth Grade English/History teacher, became involved with the Stanwood Area Historical Society and produced a ‘That Was Then…This is Now’ slide show illustrating the changes within Stanwood from its founding to the present. Dave then became increasingly involved in SAHS, serving as treasurer and president for many years.
During his leadership the D.O Pearson House received multiple upgrades, the adjacent museum was built, and the Floyd Norgaard Cultural Center was established. His fundraising, leadership, and vision can now be seen and experienced for generations to come. Dave also served on the Stanwood Planning Commission and is still known by many for his dahlia garden and involvement in regional Dahlia Societies. Meanwhile, Bobbie worked for years at Payless Drugs, then Rite-Aid, and put in her time over the years as Cub Scout den mother, activist around flood control and other issues, and constant presence at their sons’ baseball games, musical events, and other pursuits.
While Dave and Bobbie remain fixtures in the Stanwood community, their sons, Jeff, Jon, and Jim–who attended and graduated from Stanwood schools–all work in educational settings: Jeff at Edmonds Community College, Jon at College of Marin in the Bay Area, and Jim at Arlington High School. They each have families and all of Dave and Bobbie’s grandchildren have grown up seeing their grandparents’ lasting contributions to the Stanwood area.
The Eldridge Family impact on generations of Stanwood residents can be seen through these quotes from Dave’s former students and others in the community. I reached out to classmates for their memories of him teaching History and Washington State history.
Michelle Winters (class of 88) remembers Mr. Eldridge putting her in front of the class to try hard to get me to focus….”Lol I guess I needed that from him and it worked. He was the best.” Tim Pearce (Class of 87), who went on to be a teacher and now runs a private school and who serves on the Stanwood City Council says, “I didn’t much care for history until I had Mr. Eldridge.” Mark Lyon (class of 87) writes, “I am a heeuge lover of history!! I loved how Mr. E . would always make it so interesting and a bit theatrical. He was an awesome teacher!! I can’t express how much wisdom and knowledge of history that he passed down to me as a student as well as his persona of how a person can be passionate about a subject yet still maintain!! He was one of my favorite middle school teacher ever!!” Dana Paolina (class of 87) says, “I always remember Mr. Eldridge’s smile. He had a great sense of humor and would always make me laugh and smile even through his seriousness. We had many laughs about why Islands don’t float away. He was kind, smart, expected great things from us all and always made me smile.” Dana once started a class discussion about how lead got into pencils! She remembers how “Mr. Eldridge was trying to have a more meaningful conversation and I was more interested in how lead got into a pencil. Mr. E went along with it and discussed how. He laughed and we all laughed. Just one of those moments in class. .” Lisa Agron (class of 87) had this to say: “Coming from the quiet wall flower in the class, it was always fun to watch Mr. Eldridge bring out the personality in everyone, embrace his students as individuals and make the classroom a safe place to speak our minds without feeling ridiculed for exploring ideas, opinions, or letting the conversation take its own path. It’s not surprising that our friend Jon followed in his dads footsteps with the example that Mr. Eldridge set.”
I remember Dave Eldridge as a very kind teacher, gentle and nurturing. There are very few classes that I remember from my middle school days. I do remember one section of Washington State history. It focused on the long wagon trail (Lewis and Clark) trip out west. I don’t remember the details but classmates planned and went on the trip ourselves, a kind of role playing immersion experience.
Dave’s greatest impact in my life however has not been from his class but from his son, my friend Jonathan. Jonathan and I reconnected after decades at our thirtieth class reunion. We served together on the planning committee of that. And have continued to work to bring classmates together. Jonathan’s generosity, his heart for his friends, his incredible intellectual and strategic and relational gifts have been a blessing and strength to our class! He’s a friend that I know if I was in trouble or needed help I could reach out to him and he would do all that he could to stand with me.
When we had our first Vintage show in 2018, I reached out to the historical society and to Dave to see if I could borrow the gorgeous Perry Acker watercolor that is part of their permanent collection. Dave, of course, graciously said YES…and made sure that I signed all the paperwork to insure that it was cared for and protected.
So when it came time to reach out to potential sponsors for the “Finale at the Floyd,” the historic building in Stanwood that Dave Eldridge had a leading role in acquiring, renovating and establishing as the base for the Stanwood Historic Society, I reached out to my friend Jonathan. He, of course, said YES! So I want to say thanks to my brother Jonathan for your friendship, and thanks for your Dad and Mom and family and for all they have meant to our community!
On March 11, 2023 you are invited to the historic Floyd Hall in Stanwood, WA, for the Vintage Watercolor of Washington “Finale at the Floyd.” We will be saying “Thanks” to our Sponsors at the Artist Reception at 3:00pm.