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PO man helps steer propeller replacement

A memorial stripped of its centerpiece last year has now risen bigger and better than before thanks in large part to the efforts of a Port Orchard businessman.

Dick Vlist, founder of Vlist Motors, Inc., said as soon as he heard the brass propeller was torn off its place of honor next to a plaque remembering his longtime friend Irving Allen, he felt compelled to replace it.

“Allen’s widow (Elaine) told me her grandson saw it was missing,” Vlist said, explaining that thieves must have used a hacksaw to remove the propeller, which sat outside the Sylvan Way Branch of the Kitsap Regional Library in Bremerton since 1979, a year after Allen’s death.

Dedicated in 1980, the memorial was built by the Bremerton Olympic Peninsula Council of the Navy League to honor Allen’s contributions to both the Navy and the surrounding communities.

“He did a lot of things for the Navy, Bremerton and Port Orchard — he went above and beyond what was expected of him,” Vlist said. “I always admired him and appreciated his friendship.”

The first step in repairing the memorial was finding another propellor, which Vlist said was no easy task.

“The police were never able to track (the old one) down, and the Navy, which provided the first one, wasn’t able to get another one that would fit,” he said. Finally, T.J. Proteau offered to donate a 24-inch, brass propellor, and thanks to some free expertise and elbow grease from Tacoma Screw and Hanks Sheet Metal, the propellor was set in place.

But Vlist and the Navy League, which Vlist said deserves more of the credit than he, did not stop with simply replacing the propellor — they expanded the concrete around the plaque with the plan of adding rose bushes to the memorial.

Instead of just putting pots down, however, Vlist said he wanted space for the bushes built into the concrete, so “they wouldn’t be so easy to just walk away with.”

Last week, Vlist and other volunteers gathered with Allen’s widow to plant the rose bushes and “rededicate” the repaired memorial.

“(Allen’s) wife is extremely pleased,” Vlist said, explaining that the rose bushes are to honor Allen’s career as a florist, and later he hopes to add azalea bushes, as well.

Vlist said the plants were donated by Clear Creek Nursery, and labor and materials were also donated by Hard Rock, Inc., and Kitsap Peninsula Machine Works.

Rebecca Graham, acting spokeswoman for the Kitsap Regional Library, said the propellor was stolen Dec. 14, 2006, from the memorial to Allen, who was a “highly respected community leader.”

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