NOTE: I wrote this column for The Sun’s Monday, April 7 editions. Information for Pat Westhoff’s funeral and service will be announced later this week. Look for Pat’s obit in The Sun. Wanna know what others are saying on this sad day? Go to Facebook and search Patrick Westhoff. Here’s a story Eric D. Williams wrote when Westy retired from the city in 2002.
PAT WESTHOFF WAS ONE OF A KIND
I’ve been staring at the birthday card I bought for Pat Westhoff a few months ago.
I never got a chance to give it to him. Pat would have turned 68
on Friday, but he died early Sunday morning after a brave fight
against cancer. He was surrounded by his family at the home he grew
up in on the corner of Fifth and Veneta, across the street from Our
Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Bremerton.
I’d share the words on the card, but the language is a bit too much, if you know what I mean. I’m pretty sure Westy would have gotten a kick out of it.
There was always laughter when you hung with Westy. This little guy might have been 5-foot-4 in his cowboy boots, but he was larger than life. He could make an ordinary day hilarious.
Nobody was safe from Pat’s biting one-liners. Nothing was off limits. He made us laugh at ourselves. Sometimes all it took was a look, a sideways glance or roll of his eyes followed by “jeeezzzz….”
I found myself listening to a lot of Roy Orbison on Sunday. Every time I hear an Orbison song I think of Pat. Along with family, friends and fishing, Pat was definitely into his music.
There was a time when softball, and golf consumed him. I met him through softball, as a fastpitch teammate — he was a shortstop and catcher and later my manager. He was as competitive as they come on the field and later became the face of softball in our area.
He was a protégé of Andy Pendergast, the late Bremerton Parks and Rec superintendent. Westhoff was the recreation coordinator, the guy who operated all of the softball and basketball leagues in town. He was the district Amateur Softball Association commissioner for years, and represented the area and the state at national meetings.
When he was named rec coordinator in 1969, Bremerton had 20 men’s softball teams. By 1980, he’d turned the program into one of the state’s biggest with 400 registered teams, counting women and youth leagues. Westhoff ruled those leagues with an iron fist.
When the city got more heavily into the golf business, adding the championship Olympic Course to the existing Cascade Course at Gold Mountain, Westhoff was in the middle of it. He was park and rec’s liaison to the project manager and design team during the building of the Olympic Course that opened in 1996 as well as the $3.5 million clubhouse that opened six years later.
Westy had the ear and trust of his bosses — all the way to the mayor’s office. He was a voice of the people, a voice of reason that sometimes cut through the politics and red tape. He also had a golfer’s perspective on what made a golf course challenging and interesting, and his ideas always carried a lot of weight. They named a creek after him on the back nine of the Olympic Course.
Pat’s honesty was refreshing, and it earned him a lot of respect in the community. If he didn’t like something, he shared his opinions. Sugarcoating wasn’t part of his DNA, and he might drop an expletive or two to make his point.
Was Pat Westhoff feisty? Well, is the pope Catholic?
After arguing a call with an umpire, he sailed his bat from the softball diamond in the right-field corner of old Roosevelt Field (now an Olympic College parking lot) over the fence and against the toll-booth on the Warren Avenue Bridge. That’s not an urban tale.
And an angry Westhoff once flung his bat on top of the old wooden grandstands at Roosevelt after striking out. That’s an impressive physical feat for a guy that weighed maybe 130 pounds, but it doesn’t surprise me at all.
Westy never got cheated, whether he was swinging at a rise ball, coming out of his shoes on his tee shots or going chin-to-chest with an umpire.
He was the feistiest, funniest, ballsiest guy a lot of us ever knew, but he was more than a character. He was passionate about life, what he believed in and the people he loved.
Roy Orbison’s still playing, and I’m sneaking peaks at the birthday card I was going to give Pat. Man, he’d have loved that card.
I’m tempted to drink a Coke, his favorite beverage, and light up a cigar in his memory.
Taco Tuesdays, among other days, will never be the same.
We’re going to miss his spirit, his stories, his sense of humor.
Lord, you don’t make ‘em like Pat Westhoff anymore.