NORDLAND — A Marrowstone Island couple said they were “honored” and “flabbergasted” that they received the 2017 Marrowstone Island Citizens of the Year award.
Nicole and Wayne Chimenti, who purchased their home on the island in 1988 after traveling the world together, said they were surprised to have earned the honor.
Wayne Chimenti said there are more politically minded and outspoken people on the island who work hard for others on the island, who he thought would have been better candidates.
“Our nature is we’re just good neighbors,” he said. “There are a lot of people who I thought would have been better candidates, but people picked us, so we’re honored.”
When the Chimentis moved to Marrowstone Island, they brought with them their love of shared adventure, boats, the ocean and community-building. These passions continue to inform their lives both on- and off-shore, said citizen of the year emeritus Paula Lalish in a press release.
Lalish said the geodesic dome they built on their property is a well-used center for celebration, education and rejuvenation where the community hosts multi-generational family parties, informational meetings and intimate concerts.
Their homestead is a center of creative activity: garden, sail loft, refuge and gathering place. Its many roofs have sheltered countless Wooden Boat School students, as well as families in need.
Nicole Chimenti was cited in particular for her generosity as a gardener.
“Nicole shares knowledge of gardening, seeds, and starts for new gardens, and produce from her garden, with many individuals on the island,” said one nominator. “The produce helps a number of families feed themselves and their children.”
Wayne Chimenti was noted as a major facilitator of boat-related educational opportunities for youth and adults in Jefferson County.
“People have come to know that we’re open to help out young people who want to try something different,” Nicole Chimenti said, adding that high school students often ask her husband for help with projects.
Nicole and Wayne Chimenti said they fell in love with Marrowstone Island the first time they saw it. The two traditional sail makers made their way to Seattle in the 1980s to do the rigging and sail making on a boat.
It was their first time in the Pacific Northwest, they said. Wayne Chimenti grew up in Connecticut and Nicole Chimenti is from Belgium.
“Then we started traveling with our van and we found Port Townsend,” Wayne Chimenti said. “Then we found Marrowstone.”
They continued making sails from a loft on their property and have now passed most of the business down to their daughter.
“Our daughter was raised on the sail loft,” Wayne Chimenti said. “Now, our daughter has all but taken over the entire business. It’s just classic.”
They both noted the sense of community on Marrowstone and said they wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
“There’s a sense of belonging here,” said Nicole Chimenti. “We were attached to this place from the very beginning.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].