Full burial at Fort Worden Cemetery one of last [ *** GALLERY *** ]
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Jennifer Jackson/for Peninsula Daily News
After the graveside service at Fort Worden Cemetery last week, Bill Houghton, left, a part-time Sequim resident, and his brother, Jack Houghton of Shoreline, look at condolence cards that their, sister Loni Houghton, center, received after their mother died in Nampa, Idaho.
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After the service, Bill Houghton, second from left, and Lani Houghton, right, look at their mother's grave site. At left is the Rev. Wendell Ankeny, who conducted the service. Second from right is John Yraguen of the Nampa Funeral Home, who brought the deceased from Idaho and supervised the interment. Photo by Jennifer Jackson/for Peninsula Daily News.
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Shannon Houghton, 11, looks at her grandfather’s gravestone at Fort Worden Cemetery. Shannon’s brothers, Aidan, 10, and Trystan, 7, came from Shoreline with their parents, Jack and Kathleen Houghton, for their grandmother’s service. Photo by Jennifer Jackson/for Peninsula Daily News.
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The grave stone of Anna Gibson Hughes, first wife of U.S. Army Col. John L. Hughes, who is also buried at Fort Worden Cemetery, along with his second wife, Sara Ann, who died in 1989. Photo by Jennifer Jackson/for Peninsula Daily News.
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Eleanor Kinney Anderson shares a marker with her husband, A. Ed Anderson, whose name is on the other side of the stone. A master sergeant, Ed Anderson served in World War I, World II and Korea. Eleanor, identified as "His Wife" and with her maiden name, was probably cremated and her ashes interred in the same grave site. Photo by Jennifer Jackson/for Peninsula Daily News.
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The father of five, George Houghton was a retired U.S. Navy chief petty officer who was stationed at Whidbey Island and Indian Island during World War II and the Korean War. He was 41 years old when he died in a car crash on Christmas Eve of 1960. Iola Houghton, who was buried next to him last week, never remarried. Photo by Jennifer Jackson/for Peninsula Daily News.
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Daffodils mark the grave of Mary Eleanor Courtney, who died April 4, 1999. Born in 1924, she was the wife of Master Sgt. Charles Courtney, U.S. Air Force. Photo by Jennifer Jackson/for Peninsula Daily News.
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Fort Worden Military Cemetery is owned by the U.S. Army, which contracts with Skookum to provide a groundskeeper, who works out of the white building in background. Photo by Jennifer Jackson/for Peninsula Daily News.

By Jennifer Jackson
For Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — On Christmas Eve of 1960, George Houghton, a retired U.S. Navy chief petty officer, was killed in a car crash.

Houghton, a mine man who had been stationed at Whidbey Island and Indian Island, was buried Dec. 29 at the Fort Worden Military Cemetery, leaving a wife with young children. He was 41 years old.

On the day after Easter this year, his three surviving children returned to Fort Worden to bury their mother, Iola Juanita Houghton, next to her husband.

With the spaces reserved for spouses of military veterans gradually being filled and cremation so prevalent, the interment may be the last full burial at the military post cemetery.

“This is the last hole they'll dig,” Jack Houghton, one of Iola's sons.

Jack, who came from Shoreline for the service, is a 1965 Port Townsend High School graduate.

Older brother Bill, a part-time Sequim resident, came from Yuma, Ariz., and their sister, Loni Houghton, a 1968 Port Townsend High School graduate, arrived from Nampa, Idaho, where their mother died April 2 at 95.

Widowed at age 43, Iola Houghton never remarried.

Her wish was to be buried next to her husband.

“Your family has a long history in this town, and we appreciate you bringing her back to be with your dad,” said the Rev. Wendell Ankeny, who led the service.

The service was held on the edge of the cemetery.

A photograph of Iola was placed on a spray of pink carnations and white daisies on top of the pearl-pink coffin.

The service was not at the grave site, but the place where the coffin will be buried was marked off next to George Houghton's white military tombstone.

According to the groundskeeper, Matt Johnson, full burials at Fort Worden Cemetery present problems because the ground is low and often marshy.

Like many cemeteries in the Pacific Northwest, water drainage is an issue.

“It's very touchy to do full burials,” Johnson said. “It's mostly just urns.”

Cemetery historic

Johnson is in his seventh year as groundskeeper at Fort Worden Cemetery, which was established in 1898, the year work began on Fort Worden.

The fort was closed in 1953, and the property eventually became part of the state, with the exception of the cemetery, which remains in federal ownership as a military post cemetery administered by the U.S. Army.

It is the burial site of veterans from the Spanish-American War through Vietnam War and their family members.

According to the cemetery census, 76 of the 423 graves hold the remains of spouses of military men, their status on the census indicated as “his wife.”

An additional 67 are the graves of children who died at birth or did not survive infancy.

Worked in shipyards

Iola Houghton worked in the shipyards during World War II, when she met her future husband, who was from California.

George was stationed at Whidbey Island, where the Navy was mining the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and later at Indian Island, and the family moved to Port Townsend.

Bill was no longer living at home when his father died in 1960, Jack recalled, but Jack was 12, his younger brother Frank (now deceased) was 10, and Loni was 8.

Iola worked at Aldrich's Grocery, at a bakery and at the Elks Club to support her family, the family said.

After Loni graduated from Port Townsend High School, Iola moved to Nampa to be near family.

The daughter of Raymond Hale, who worked for the Union Pacific Railroad, Iola was born in Twin Falls on March 5, 1917, and grew up in Idaho Falls.

Moving back to Nampa in 1968, she worked as a cashier in a cafe and in an agricultural facility preparing potatoes for shipping, Loni said.

Also attending last Monday's service were Jack's spouse, Kathleen, and their three children, Shannon, 11; Aidan, 10; and Trystan, 7, all of Shoreline; and Loni's spouse, Dave Curtis of Nampa.

John Yraguen of Nampa Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements, transporting the body from Nampa and staying after the burial service to oversee the placing of Iola's coffin in a vault, then watch as it was lowered into the earth.

The Jefferson County Genealogical Society's census of Fort Worden Cemetery was conducted in 1984 and updated in 2002.

For more information, visit www.wajcgs.org.


Jennifer Jackson is a freelance writer and photographer living in Port Townsend. To contact her, email jjackson@olypen.com.

Last modified: April 14. 2012 5:37PM
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