Charles “Charley” William Ellwanger, 86, of Tacoma, Wash., passed away on Feb. 26, 2021, at his home in Sun Valley, Idaho.

He was born on Sept. 21, 1934, in Centralia, Wash., to Benjamin Starbuck Ellwanger Sr. and Dorothy Lowe Ellwanger. He spent his childhood with his family at Lake Quinault and Pacific Beach, Wash., where his parents owned and ran the Ellwanger Cottages. He graduated from Moclips High School in 1952.  He learned to be an avid hunter, fisher and clam digger—pursuits he enjoyed his entire life.  

He graduated from Puget Sound College (UPS) in 1957 with a B.A. in education. He spent summers doing commercial painting to finance his education. He taught at Clover Park and Elma school districts for several years, then at Aberdeen High School until his retirement in 1981. He was voted Favorite Teacher of the Year by the class of 1977.  

He also served as a major in the Washington Army National Guard and retired after 25 years. He often spent weekends at the Yakima Firing Range and Fort Vancouver and made many friends during his years in the Guard.  Following his retirement from teaching and the Guard, he started a cedar products brokerage business at Lake Quinault.

In 1953, Charley married Kathy Watson (Heath). They had two sons, Randy and Ron. They resided in Aberdeen and the boys recall fun times with their dad pulling the Central Park neighborhood kids behind his truck in a homemade sled. In 1970, Charley moved to Lake Quinault and his sons soon followed. They spent countless hours fishing and hunting (deer, elk and grouse), picking mushrooms, raising German shepherds, driving backroads looking for wildlife and clam digging at Pacific Beach. Smoke was often seen coming out of the salmon smokehouse and from the fireplace in the cabin, where friends often gathered for conversation and libation.

In 1980, Charley married Kimberly Marie Thompson. The couple resided at Lake Quinault before moving to Redmond, then Olympia and finally to Tacoma, Wash. They had one daughter, Kate. Charley was “Mr. Mom” well before that was common and was often the only dad in the pool with other moms and kids during swim lessons. The family spent time at their homes at Lake Quinault and in Sun Valley, fishing, hiking and skiing. They took many road trips exploring the Northwest and Alaska, and they also traveled extensively internationally. Charley and Kimberly enjoyed entertaining the many friends made over the years.

Charley enjoyed canning and was well known for his hot dill pickles and sauerkraut. He and his family and friends spent much timing canning pickles and digging and cleaning clams at the family beach house. He and his extended family also spent many Octobers at hunting camp in Goldendale, Wash.  

Charley is survived by his wife, Kimberly; daughter, Kimberly Kate Ellwanger; son Randy Charles Ellwanger (Courtney); grandchildren, Candra and Charles; son Ronald Charles Ellwanger (Linda); and sister Betty Stevens. He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Ben S. Ellwanger Jr.; and his sister Judy Duree.

The family suggests that any memorial gifts be made to the St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation, the Ketchum Sun Valley Volunteer Association or the Wood River YMCA. The family is planning a private memorial in late spring.

A memorial page is available at to share memories or photos with Charley’s family.