MEET MEMBER KEN WESTMAN: VOLUNTEER EXTRAORDINAIRE
Does anyone remember when Brown's Farm was actually a farm with cows, chickens, pigs and sheep? At one time, in the early 70's, Ken and his wife, who ran the farm with their three grandchildren, owned it. That was back before there was a highway, in fact, his family used to play baseball in the middle of the dirt road that is now Highway 20.
Ken was born in 1935 in Bellingham, Washington and move to Seattle in 1939. After graduating from high school, and trying various jobs, he moved to Alaska to fish, which became his long adventurous 30-year career.
They say that being a crab fisherman is one of the most dangerous occupations there is. Asked about his experiences Ken says, "I've had a number of near death experiences. You talk about a cat with 9 lives - I've only got one left!"
One event that stands out in his mind was being caught out on some islands on the south side of the Alaskan Peninsula. His boat had a full load and a deck load of shrimp in heavy weather blowing 100 mph. Water flooded the last section of the vessel and the stern went under. Shrimp spewed everywhere including in the pumps so no water could be pumped out. He just had to idle until he got to a beach without grounding the boat while he waited for the wind to die down. That was one of many near death experiences most, of which, occurred crossing the Gulf of Alaska 34 times. But, as Ken states, “That’s just what we did!”
Ken bought the land surrounding Brown’s Farm in 1967 & 1969 while on vacation. He met his neighbor who was farming at the Coshow place, where the Rolling Huts stand today. They bought a truckload of 50 day-old calves and became partners since he had the pasture the calves needed and she had the facilities to take care of them on her property. They married in 1972 and raised their three grandchildren on the farm where Brown’s Farm is today. When the children were grown they sold the property to Jeff Brown’s father and kept three of the acres for themselves where they eventually built a house in 2002.
1990 brought retirement from fishing for Ken and the beginning of a new career of volunteerism with nonprofits and community service for the past 26 years. He was The Barn manager at one time, been on The Barn’s board, as well as the Electric Coop board for 17 years, been a fire commissioner and on the board of Room 1. He currently is chair of the communications district. It was working with Room 1 that Ken “started an awakened social conscience.”
Since then he has been a supporter of Classroom in Bloom, Twispworks – on and on. He joined Methow At Home (MAH) because “It seemed like a good idea. The older we get the more we realize there are things we just cannot do anymore or shouldn’t be doing. It’s a real benefit!” Ken is a member and signs up to volunteer often for MAH. He is loved and appreciated by all those that know him for his wittiness and compassion for others.