Louis R Criez

Louis Rolfe Criez  (1929-2022) 

Louis, a life-long Washingtonian, was born September 30, 1929, at Seattle’s Providence Hospital, and died May 16, 2022, at “his little place in Paradise” on the water in Ferndale.  

Louis grew up near Blessed Sacrament Parish in Seattle where he attended grade school. His summers were spent on Vashon Island at Paradise Cove. After, he went to Seattle Prep High School, from which he graduated in 1947.  He was always busy and had a 1930 Model A Ford before he had a driver’s license.  He spent his first year after graduation working for school money at Boeing.  Then, it was off to WSU, where he began working toward a veterinary degree.

Just before his high school graduation, he joined the Navy Reserve so he would not be drafted into the Army for service in the Korean War.  In the fall of his third year of college, he got his draft notice and had to go and convince the draft board that he was the property of the U.S. Navy.  On returning to school, he found his draft orders to active duty in the Navy Reserve.  The father of one of his buddies was a ranking officer in the 13th Naval District and had the authority to have the draft order stopped so Louis could be interviewed for Reserve Officer School.  In 1952, he was accepted and one month after graduation from WSU, he was commissioned an Ensign and boarded his first ship for 2 years of active duty.  

His ship was stationed at Long Beach, California, and there he met his future wife, Kitty Wilson.  She was from Whitefish, Wisconsin, and was teaching grade school in Long Beach, along with four other Wisconsin ladies.  Eventually, Louis was transferred to the Bremerton Naval Shipyard, and Kitty went home.  After a long-distance courtship, they were married on August 25th, 1954

They began their married life in Hooper, WA, where Louis worked for McGregor Land and Livestock Company.  They moved to Seattle for the birth of their first child, Kathleen, in 1955.  Margaret (Peggy) and Kevin followed, and the family of 5 grew up enjoying sailing and skiing together.  The children’s interests kept the family busy as well, ranging from Scouts to swimming, Little League, cheerleading, and many others. 

Louis started to work at this time for the Boeing Aerospace Company doing work in subcontract management.  This required many days of travel per month and, coupled with remaining active in the Reserve and family activities, life was very busy.

Disaster struck the family in July of 1974 when Kitty died of cancer.  The church and the extended family helped the 3 children survive and come through as Louis coped with his grief.  A new phase of life came when Louis met and married Diane, a single mom with 2 kids, Alisan and Scot, in 1977.  The family was now Louis and Diane and the “fabulous five” kids, ranging in age from Scot at 17 to Kathy at 22.  All five went on to finish University in various places: Kathy at UW, Peggy, and Scot at WSU, Kevin at U of Hawaii, and Alisan at Linfield in OR.  This distance made it hard to see each other sometimes.  As families grew, family gatherings were celebrated in places with more space for children.  One of the favorites was Thanksgiving at the Boeing Ski Lodge at Crystal Mountain.

Louis took on many management tasks at Boeing over time, and his Reserve work increased as well.  He first became the captain of the Ruff, a reserve minesweeper, and then the commander of a fleet of 4 minesweepers:  the Implicit, Warbler, Vireo, and Woodpecker.  At this time he also got back to his sailing roots as he and Diane bought a 34-foot sailboat.  Diane became an expert ship’s cook and they had many adventures together.  In time they retired from the sailboat to a cabin in the mountains, which they enjoyed with the family for some years.  They sold the cabin and returned to the water, purchasing a condo on the water in the Lummi Reservation.

Louis retired from the Navy Reserve in 1985 and from Boeing in 1986.  The Boeing retirement was prompted by yet another call from the sea;  Louis was in demand as a crew member on several vessel return missions.  The first and longest was to bring a 45ft ketch home to Seattle from Tahiti.  Many others ensued, including trips from Ft Lauderdale, FL to Seattle, Seattle to Craig, AK, and San Francisco to Seattle.  

When not on the water, Louis and Diane traveled together to many countries and had wonderful adventures in each, often making friends that then visited them in America.  Grandchildren and great-grandchildren arrived to enliven their lives at home.  Louis suffered the loss of his beloved Diane in 2016, and moved permanently to his “little place in Paradise” on the water  At the time of Louis’ passing, he and Diane had 12 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.  Louis leaves behind a rich legacy of service to his country and a loving family.