The Family Business
My great-grandfather, Rod Turner, was a traveling salesman with a dream of developing a resort in Mexico or Anacortes. In the 1920s, he and his wife, Grace, moved to Fidalgo Island. Over the next several years, they constructed a golf course, summer cabins, bowling alley, tennis courts, 150 foot pier, and a restaurant. Turner Similk Bay Oysters were grown in the tide flats of Similk Bay and Fidalgo Bay, with additional beds in the Bellingham area. My grandparents, Earl and Betty, continued the oyster and golf businesses. Always resourceful, my grandfather used the discarded shells for drainage on the course.
I spent summers at Similk and Anacortes Cyclery, my father’s small business for twenty-five years. Tom’s shop was a starting point for cross-country cyclists. I remember sitting around the dinner table with customers from all over the world. My mom taught third and fourth grade for four decades at Fidalgo School, which she and I both attended.
During high school, I played varsity golf, worked at the course, volunteered with Key Club, and occasionally participated in Mr. Burnett’s theater productions at Brodniak Hall. Upon graduating from Anacortes High School, I enrolled at Whitman College. I continued to play collegiate golf for the first couple of years, pledged Kappa Kappa Gamma, and studied Art History and Visual Culture. A brief stint in Los Angeles for a post-degree in Visual Communications at FIDM and a colorful adventure in celebrity styling, then it was back home for me.
Returning to Anacortes, I fulfilled my dream of joining the family business. Working with my Aunt Lori, Dad, and Dick Freier, our golf pro and manager, I learned the ropes. Most of our crew had been with us for years, some of them even knew my great-grandparents. It was early morning tournaments in the summer, aerating in the shoulder seasons, and losing sleep over rainfall. The best part were the golfers who became family; helping to put away carts, picking range balls, and sharing their lives with us. It was a special time, but it was coming to an end. In 2013, our family decided the business was ready for a new steward. The Swinomish Tribe purchased the golf course and tidelands with the intention of utilizing both and have since invested significantly in its future.
At that point, I came to a crossroads. What to do? I was fortunate to have joined the Anacortes Arts Festival Board and exercised my creative muscle. The Festival has over 200 volunteers and a robust giving program. I forged relationships with incredible people and continue to serve on the board. Finally, I decided to become a Realtor. It encompasses a variety of responsibilities. Advising clients on the neighborhoods, intricacies of contracts, and empowering through education of the market. Plus, I am able to continue my volunteer work, which has increased over the years.
Travis, my husband, also graduated from AHS. He went to work in the maritime industry, starting as a cook on a tugboat , Millennium Falcon, in Dutch Harbor and Akutan. Increasing his license during his time off, he ascended to first mate and then captain on tractor tugs. This May, he became a Puget Sound Pilot navigating oil tankers, cargo vessels, and ships through the Puget Sound.
My husband and I have the typical Anacortes romance. We knew each other in high school, acquaintances more than anything. Fast forward half a dozen years and we happen to meet up with some mutual friends at the Brown Lantern. Our fate was sealed. In 2012, we were married on the second tee box overlooking the golf course. Now we have our daughter, Cora, who is a bundle of energy, says “dog-dog,” and loves to point at boats!