PORT ANGELES — Everyone was “pard” — as in pardner — to Gary Cecil Blevins, and none more so than the working people he fought for without knowing their names.
Blevins, 77, a former logger who led a successful fight in the 1970s to expand state workers compensation benefits, died of natural causes Saturday at his Port Angeles home in the Gales Addition, above the Ennis Creek area, where he was born Sept. 30, 1942.
It was in Gales Addition just east of the Port Angeles city limits — among the oldest subdivisions in Clallam County — that Blevins developed 60 lots with profits he made logging in Alaska, his longtime friend, George Gale, 78, said Thursday.
He owned several parcels in Gales Addition, said his family.
About four decades ago, Blevins built his Sit-N-Bull Tavern in Gales Addition with help from Gale.
The private tavern is a combination museum-recreation building that former Sequim Gazette reporter Mark Couhig referred to in a 2014 story as “the finest man cave in the whole world.”
It’s where Blevins held high school reunions and fundraisers for charitable causes, including the American Cancer Society, hospice and Olympic Medical Center events.
It is filled with area artifacts from more than 90 bars that closed over the years on the North Olympic Peninsula and Grays Harbor, a place where Blevins paid homage to the Peninsula’s rich logging and outdoors heritage.
The night he graduated from Port Angeles High School, Blevins’ friends partied.
Not Blevins, who headed to the West End to get to loggin’.
“He headed out to logging camp because he was a worker,” Gale said. “Logging was his life. He just loved to get out there in the weather. If you wanted a tree cut down, just mention Gary, and he was there with a chain saw.”
Blevins worked for several logging and construction companies.
Even after he stopped logging during the timber industry cutbacks of the 1980s, Blevins worked in construction as a laborer, joining a union.
“He was a go-getter,” Gale said. “At 3 or 4 in the morning, he was out working.”
Blevins commonly offered his friendship to strangers, which Gale was until he met Blevins — in a bar — in Port Angeles in the early 1970s.
Gale noticed Blevins’ signature flat-top haircut.
“I said to the bartender, who is that flat-head across the way there,” Gale recalled. “He come over, shakes my hand, says ‘hey, pard.’ He called everyone pard. I don’t think he’s seen anyone he didn’t like. I never heard anyone in Port Angeles say anything bad about him.”
Blevins made his mark on state labor laws after he was injured in 1971, when a tree branch fell on him while he was logging in the West End. The branch hit him in the head and sent him to a Seattle hospital.
He went to state Labor and Industries, could not receive enough to live on, and could not receive public assistance because he owned some houses, Gale recalled.
Blevins testified before the state Legislature and in court, helping workers to increase their compensation if injured on the job.
After a visit to the Legislature, Blevins declared he was fighting for “a fair and equitable compensation for the working man and woman today,” he said in a petition to change the law.
“Our employers and us pay highly into it today, but what we get to live on per month with our families, right now is hardly nothing,” Blevins said. “A hound dog lives better than we do.”
Blevins fought for higher workers compensation “all by himself,” Gale said, recalling one exchange in court.
“All these lawyers, they were trying to trick him. He told the judge, ‘they’re trying to trick me with all these big words. I want them to speak the words like I speak them so I can understand them.’
“It got to where [Labor and Industries] had to pay a percentage of their wages. He got that straightened out.”
Blevins was there, offering any kind of help to anyone at a moment’s notice, Gale said.
“If he said he was going to help you, he was there before you got there,” he said.
His daughter, Pamela Blevins-Gravette, 52, recalled her father’s love for the elderly.
Every Christmas, she and her father would get in his truck and bring home people who did not have family around during the holidays, recalling the names of an elderly woman in her late 70s or early 80s, and a disabled couple that included a woman who was paralyzed from a stroke and could not talk.
“We would have five different people that weren’t of our family and did not have a place to go, and my father treated them all like family and took then in,” Blevins-Gravette said.
“If a neighbor was down and out, my father was the first to show up at their door. If they needed a lawn mowed or needed wood, my father was there to help out. He was a very good man.”
Blevins is survived by a sister, three children and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A potluck memorial gathering is set for 2 p.m. April 27 at the Port Angeles Eagles Club. It will be open to the public.
Hickory shirts are encouraged for those in attendance.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].