When Stuart Post was asked for a Spotlight interview, he suggested: “How ’bout interviewing me with my sister and brother?” The message: we’re a team. Sunk deep into Lopez history, Team Post feels itself an inextricable part of the island.
The Posts’ German great-grandmother ran a boarding house for miners; their paternal great-grandfather discovered the biggest gold mine in Whatcom County and co-founded the town of Sumas. Grandfather Clifford grew up and got married in the woods north of Bellingham, but his wife died when their two children were small. Clifford’s sister-in-law, Kate Spencer, took the kids in and moved them to Blakely Island. As adults in the late 1940s, they moved over to Lopez, where Clifford and his son Jack built the house across from the gas station on Fisherman Bay — no water, no electricity.
Jack Post grew up to be the dad the Lopez Post siblings share. Delores and Dan were born in 1948 and 1950, respectively, but their parents divorced. Their city-raised mom could no longer tolerate the rustic Lopez life, and she moved away. Jack, now fishing in Alaska, had to farm Delores and Dan out to a lady on Orcas — “a nightmare,” Dan remembers.
Eventually, the kids moved in with their German great-aunt on Spencer Spit. This was delightful. “We had the whole of the Spit to play on, just us,” Delores says. She and Dan reminisce about fresh bread after school — “and cream puffs!” Dan adds.
When Dan was 11, his dad married Lopezian Jene Bottems, with three kids of her own. Soon Jack and Jene added Stuart and James to the brood — now seven children living in the little Fisherman Bay house. The Post siblings enjoy describing the island’s small scope back then, how a letter addressed only with name and “Lopez, WA” would still find its recipient.
At graduation, Delores stayed with relatives to attend college in Mount Vernon, working three jobs. “I spent all my wages phoning Lopez because I was so lonely,” she jokes. She wanted to come home, but no one was hiring. So she got a job at the Skagit Valley Herald for $1.25 per hour, while chopping broccoli at night for a cannery. Later she went to California to visit her mother, and ended up getting married and staying. “Gone for 10 years out of my life,” is how she puts it.
In 1977, now living with two kids and her second husband in Texas, Delores got the sad news: their dad had lung cancer. Delores immediately came home to take care of little brothers Stuart and James; Jack Post died within months. “To this day, it still hurts,” Stuart says. “Dad was my whole world.” His siblings nod.
Now 28 with a brand-new driver’s license and sense of independence, Delores got divorced and came home to stay, with her daughters. She’s been here ever since — 40 years, working at The Galley, Aqua Sea Farms, The Rub-A-Dub Pub and other jobs.
Dan’s off-island excursions took him farther. Enamored of the military, he joined the Army in 1969. He served two 18-month tours — in the Korean Demilitarized Zone, then California — and got married along the way. Coming home to Lopez, he “worked like a dog at all kinds of odd jobs,” then re-joined the Army — then back to Lopez. As the lack of real jobs took its toll, Dan next joined the Coast Guard, and so he was stationed in Seattle while his father was dying. But color blindness kept him from promotion, so he rejoined the Army one final time. (“I have four separate honorable discharges,” he explains.) Divorced, he moved to Iowa as a single parent, where he eventually met Linda and had two more kids. The couple moved back to Lopez in 1986, and Dan bought a freight business — but also a gillnet license, a boat and a net. “All he ever wanted to do was fish,” Delores says. Dan sold the freight business in 2010, but he’s still fishing.
After Jack’s death, Stuart’s mom remarried and moved away. Stuart graduated, and followed a girlfriend to Seattle. Intrigued by firefighters (Jack had been one of Lopez’s first), Stu became an EMT for King County, finishing college simultaneously. Then, desiring to “see what corporate America was like,” he went to work for GT Directories. As assistant administrator for the Northwest, he got flown around the world to troubleshoot computers.
But in the late 90s, Stuart came home to Lopez. He had married a Lopezian with two daughters, and wished not to uproot them. “Sometimes money isn’t everything,” Delores reports him saying. The marriage ended, but Stuart stayed. He is a computer consultant now, happily married to Cindy.
“We’ve been heavily involved in the community since we were young, and the community has been heavily involved in us,” Stuart says. “Community was like family.” Delores has been involved in 4H for 37 years. Dan was Port Commissioner for 23 years, then on the Dump Board. Stuart is a firefighter. The Post siblings are Lopezian to the end. “My next move will be up by Center Church,” Dan says, and Delores and Stuart eagerly chime in about their own burial plots, in Lopez ground.