Jim and Gyvonne

Submitted by Susan Holston (niece)

My uncle was born James Forest Britten. He loved his middle name, and always gravitated to places with trees. His and Gyvonne’s first home was in a walnut orchard.

In WWII, he was in the Navy as one of the first radar technicians, then was assigned to help engineer and build bridges in both Yosemite and Big Sur.  He was very proud of those projects.

His other love was trains. He owned two speeders (two-person cars used to check the tracks) and belonged to a club that ran their speeders on seldom used right-of-ways so train companies could maintain their tract rights.

Those two passions converged on a trip to Washington shortly after both their retirements as aeronautical/aerospace engineers. They were on a trip to Washington where they ran their speeders through the forests. They fell in love with the San Juan Island area and ended up buying a home in Anacortes with a breath-taking view across Allen Island out to Victoria.

Gyvonne Ann Imoff-Britten was an accomplished artist. When they found out that the Anacortes train station was in jeopardy, she painted pictures, which were used on tee, totes, notecards and reproductions to help raise money to save the station. Some of her artwork was hung in the Museum of Northwest Art in nearby La Conner, where they were founding patrons. To raise money at auction, she created handmade dolls with beautiful hand-painted faces which she donated to many charities as successful fundraisers. She also donated hand-made stuffed animals to children at the hospital, as well as knitted caps for the neo-natal unit.  She also knitted helmet liners for our troops abroad. Their generous and giving nature extended beyond the family to many others.

Both Jimmy and Gyvonne truly loved their adopted home. Whenever we would visit, a highlight was riding the ferries through the islands. Uncle Jimmy always had a new route planned so we could see more of the gorgeous scenery. For someone named Forest, there couldn’t have been a better place to live.