How Do You Solve a Problem Like Hank Mann-Sykes?

Brynn Grimley writes:

I first met Hank Mann-Sykes shortly after I was hired at the Kitsap Sun in April 2006. He claims he was so excited to have a reporter hired to cover Central Kitsap for the Sun that he cried.  (I don’t believe him).

I have to share our first encounter because I believe it sums up Hank’s sense of humor in a nutshell (and he is a nut).

We were to meet at the Silver City Brewery in Silverdale for lunch. On the phone Hank described what he looked like so I wouldn’t miss him: “I’m 5’5” about 200 pounds, bald with horn-rimmed glasses,” he said.

So there I sat, waiting for a short, fat, bald man with glasses, and in walks Hank — looking like none of the above. That’s when I knew: never take anything he says seriously.

Hank has been a wonderful contact for to me; if I had a question I could call him and he had the answer (assuming he answered the phone).

But a few months after we met, Hank started having health problems. I didn’t hear from him for a while, and then every few months he’d check in. I never knew how serious his health problems were because he never wanted to talk about it. (Still doesn’t).

Hank didn’t want his health issues to go into the story I wrote that ran in Sunday’s paper because he doesn’t want people feeling sorry for him. But then he decided if his story can show someone else that they don’t have to act sick just because they are sick, he was willing to share.

I believe, after speaking with Hank, it is his “one day at a time” mentality that has resulted in him proving medicine wrong. That and his desire to help the community. He refuses to focus on being sick, and instead looks at what he can do to continue to be a mover and a shaker in Silverdale.

Just last week his wife of 27 years Loisanne said he had people at the house to discuss the Silverdale Haselwood Family YMCA. He ran out of cell phone minutes for the month because he’s reconnecting with old friends and trying to connect people to find funding for the multi-million dollar YMCA facility, she said.

To write my story on Hank, I received a list of people Hank suggested I call to get some perspective on “Who is Hank Mann-Sykes.” The list grew every day, and while I called many, I didn’t call them all. I also didn’t include everyone’s comments in my story, however their input helped me shape the article. I’d like to provide some of the quotes from those who know Hank here.

Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent and Hank connected first through the Boy Scouts, an organization Hank has been involved in for 20 years (his son Joshua is an Eagle Scout). They then worked together when Lent was county commissioner.

“If there ever was a ‘Man of the Year,’ or a ‘Man of the Century,’ it would be Hank Mann-Sykes,” she said. “He is as solid as a granite rock.”

Carl Johnson, another volunteer and civic leader in Silverdale, has known Hank for years. The two share a deep religious faith and met once a week to study the Bible before Hank’s last trip to the hospital.

“What I’ve discovered about Hank is, you don’t have to wonder what he’s thinking,” Johnson said. “He kind of wears his feelings and his thoughts out there for anyone to see and hear. And certainly I appreciate that about him.”

Johnson, along with everyone else, called Hank an “incredibly giving person.”

“I have a great appreciation and a general love for Hank and I think he has made a difference in our community,” he said.

Natalie Bryson, yet another longtime Silverdale volunteer, has shared a close friendship with Hank since he arrived in Silverdale and wasn’t surprised to learn he had been working on the Silverdale YMCA project from home. She said the drive to benefit his community was the “marrow of his bones.”

“He just did things at the grass roots level and made a huge difference for people in the community,” she said of his volunteerism. “I can’t think of an organization that hasn’t been impacted by his efforts in one way or another.”

There’s one thing Hank hasn’t done for the community that he’d like to see happen before he dies: Silverdale incorporation.

“I’m going to do it if I have the energy,” he said. “If it’s the last dying breath in my body I’m going to call someone and say lets get this freaking thing going.”

Looking at his success record, I wouldn’t be surprised if he does it.

4 thoughts on “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Hank Mann-Sykes?

  1. BRYNN,
    THANK YOU FOR YOUR STORY !!!
    I AM HUMBLED TO THE CORE OF MY BODY !!!
    HOWEEVER, I JUST WANTED YOU TO MENTION
    WORLDWIDE ASSIGNMENTS WITH THE AIR FORCE.
    I APPRECIATE YOU, AND YOUR BRINGING TO
    LIFE THE ISSUES AND THE PEOPLE OF SILVERDALE
    AND CENTRAL KITSAP.
    YOU ARE VERY SPECIAL TO OUR COMMUNITY, THE PAPER
    AND THOSE WHO KNOW YOU AND YOU COVER.
    THANKS FOR ALL YOU ARE DOING TO ENLIGHTEN US ABOUT THIS AWSOME PLACE WE LIVE !!!
    HANK MANN-SYKES

  2. Chris,

    I truely enjoyed your article. He sounds like the same guy I met in Alaska almost 40 years ago. We stayed in touch until he moved to Kitsap County.

    Again, thanks for the article.

    Bob Willits
    Seattle

  3. Bob – I didn’t write the article. Brynn Grimley did. I know this is confusing. Since I’ve gained comrades on the blog, we’ve had a greater variety of voices, which is wonderful … even if Brynn did ramble on about her up-do. Surely it’s time to ax the photo of me and replace it with something iconic representing Kitsap communities. Any suggestions?

  4. Iconic representation of South Kitsap? Here are a few ideas…

    -A picture taken from the center of the crosswalk at the end of Main Street (Bay Street?) in Port Orchard.

    -A picture of the scoreboard at Joe Knowles Stadium at the high school.

    -A picture of the entrance to the older Kitsap County Admin building (the one the courts are still in).

    -A picture of the foot ferry reaching the Port Orchard dock.

    -A picture of the Stokes Auction windmill.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Before you post, please complete the prompt below.

Please enter the word MILK here: