SOMETIMES DREAMS COME true in a person’s lifetime.
Sometimes it is up to a friend to see the dream through.
The latter was the case for Bob Wilson, chief of the Quilcene Fire Department, who died of cancer last year at the age of 58.
Wilson, who had served as fire chief since 1992, had ideas to improve emergency services in the area, ideas he did not live to carry out.
But on early morning drives to Sequim for chemotherapy, Wilson imparted some of his dreams to Bob Rosen, one of his volunteer chauffeurs.
“I think it was a good place for him for him to talk, about life in general, his career in the fire department, how important it was to him and how there were a lot of things that he’d hoped to accomplish, but hadn’t,” Rosen said.
“I said ‘If there is anything I can do to help, I will.'”
So when Rosen was offered the position of interim commissioner for the fire district, he accepted.
He replaces Julie McClanahan, who recently resigned from the three-person board.
The other commissioners are David Ward and Mike Whittaker.
“We thought he was the best fit for the interim position because of his involvement in the community,” Ward said.
Rosen is a former Hollywood producer/director who moved to the Olympic Peninsula, where he got involved in local organizations and then took on the job of manager the Quilcene Community Center.
Since then, he has held community brainstorming sessions, raised money for remodeling the building inside and out, and overseen the work, which is being done mainly by the Boeing Bluebills and local volunteers.
But neither of those credits had the pull that Wilson had when the two were making the daily drive to Sequim and ran into trouble.
“On the very first trip, I had a flat tire,” Rosen said. “Before I could get out and change it, Bob had called a fire department and a truck came and picked him up.”
As newly appointed fire commissioner, Rosen said he has already attended one joint meeting of the Quilcene and Port Ludlow fire district commissioners, who are talking about putting one of Wilson’s ideas into action.
And planning continues to name the Quilcene Fire Station in memory of Wilson and to place a memorial stone on the grounds.
Wilson was the first paid employee at the Quilcene station, which is a volunteer district with about 35 volunteers, Ward said.
The Quilcene Fire District commissioners meet at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of the month at the station.
In addition to community service, Rosen has been working with the Port Townsend Film Festival to expand festival showings and programs to the south county.
He also has been invited to be one of the guest directors at September’s Port Townsend Film Festival, which is screening one of his films.
The gift of music
Andy Mackie is seeing his dream take flight of giving every school child the gift of music.
Mackie is a musician who gives out harmonicas to children and teaches them to play a simple tune wherever he goes.
He also started organizing in-class and after-school music lessons for students in three counties and makes simple stringed instruments sized for small hands.
Last Friday, Mackie got a call from the philanthropist who had seen his story on CBS’s “Assignment America” last year and funded a pilot program at Chimacum Schools to have students make stringed instruments and learn to play them.
The philanthropist, who asked to remain anonymous, was calling to say he wanted to expand the program to other schools.
“I’m still in shock,” Mackie said. “It’s very exciting.”
The philanthropist originally suggested making instruments in a factory and putting Mackie’s name on them.
But Mackie, who grew up in Scotland and emigrated to the United States on a cattle boat, thought it would be better to teach the students how to make instruments.
Despite heart problems, which restricts him to a wheelchair if traveling any distance, Mackie shows up frequently at classes at Chimacum to show the students how to build and play instruments.
But he has been concerned about what will happen to the program when he is no longer able to do so.
“For a long time, I’ve felt there was someone out there who would take this program and go with it,” Mackie said.
Through the pilot program, led by instructor Evan Harrison, Chimacum middle school students learned to cut the pieces and assemble the instruments, called strum sticks, and, Mackie said, they’ve completed nearly 500 stringed instruments this year.
Two students who took the class more than once advanced to building their own guitars, Harrison said.
This spring, students from Brinnon School came to Chimacum Schools for a one-day instrument-building workshop, something Mackie hopes other schools in the area will do.
Mackie, who has an unheated workshop in the Chimacum Valley, also enlists Port Townsend High School shop students and area Boy Scouts to help make instruments and instrument kits for schools.
Recently, a high school graduate from Holland who was visiting relatives in Port Townsend saw Mackie’s backpack guitars and came out to his shop to learn how to build them, Mackie said.
The young man planned to go back to his own school and start a similar program, Mackie said.
Mackie also was visited by a woman from Virginia who wanted to find out about starting instrument-building classes for inner city kids she works with.
To help finance the effort, Mackie continues to hold fundraisers and host music nights featuring student musicians at the Upstage in Port Townsend and Ferino’s Pizza in Port Hadlock.
One of his favorite young musicians, Marina Gittens, moved to Wisconsin where her father was transferred with the Coast Guard.
Marina not only is a virtuoso on the violin but taught other children to play in Mackie’s after-school program.
She also taught violin in Wisconsin, Mackie said, and after giving a performance this week with her students, will be moving with her family back to the Port Townsend area.
Students at Port Townsend High School and Chimacum are currently making four instruments to send to the first family, Mackie said, in the hopes that the gift for the Obamas will bring more attention to the effort.
“It’s all about bringing music to the children,” Mackie said.
For more information, go to www.andymackiemusic.org or contact Dallas Jasper at email@example.com.
________Jennifer Jackson writes about Port Townsend and Jefferson County every Wednesday. To contact her with items for this column, phone 360-379-5688 or e-mail jjackson@olypen.