Local couple remembered by family
August 27, 2008 · Updated 5:32 PM
ARLINGTON The family of Robert and Karen Washburn want people to remember how they lived, rather than how they died.
Robert, 67, and Karen, 66, were found dead by a family member on the morning of Aug. 17, in their home in the 23500 block of Jordan Road in Arlington, but their daughters, son and son-in-law recall the couples enthusiasm for life.
Dad was always singing silly songs from the 50s and 60s, said daughter Genie Ruiz, of Provo, Utah, who recalls her fathers renditions of Splish Splash, The Purple People Eater and Mack the Knife.
He always invited the new people at church to Sunday dinner, said Genies husband Robert. He really made them feel welcome.
Even when the only thing they had in the house was pizza and hot dogs, Genie said. I was mortified that we were serving new people pizza and hot dogs, but hed already invited them.
Robert and Karen Washburn were active members of the Arlington second ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and they took pride in serving others.
Everyone has told me how my mother was the nicest, kindest person they knew, said daughter Melanie Sheffield of Santa Clara, Utah. People trusted them for being honest and straightforward.
They had such unconditional love, said son Kyle Washburn of Marysville. My mom was as pure as a person could be, and I dont know anyone who didnt respect my dad.
Even though I wasnt directly related to them, the love I felt from them was second only to what I felt from my own family, Robert Ruiz said. Karen treated me like her own son and Bob helped me with my life and my career.
Sheffield and Kyle Washburn, agreed that their parents always put the needs of others, especially their family, ahead of their own. When Melanie had cancer nine years ago, her mother lived with her for six months.
How unselfish was that of her, to stay by my side, and of him, to have her gone that long? said Sheffield, who also recalled her father spending so much time supporting his childrens high school athletic activities that he appeared in The Arlington Times.
He helped out kids at the high school with track and discus, even when none of his own kids were in high school anymore, said Kyle Washburn, who noted that his father was a state-level discus-thrower himself. He traveled throughout the Northwest to attend almost all of my college football games.
Robert and Karen Washburns children agreed that their parents never asked for much in return, especially since they had little interest in material goods.
He loved cherry pie, so all he wanted for his birthday was a cherry pie, Sheffield said.
And socks, Robert Ruiz said. He told us not to waste any money on him and to stick it in our kids college educations instead.
Because he lived closest to them, Kyle Washburn had a better idea of his fathers struggle with prostate cancer than his siblings, but he described his father as a man who refused to complain about his problems to anyone.
He was really ill for the past 18 months, but he wouldnt lie in bed, Washburn said. He said that he was a person with cancer and other health problems. He fought it as hard as Ive seen anyone fight anything, but hes still say things were fine.
Hed always skirt the issue, Sheffield said. And she was his caregiver the entire time.
Except for Kyle, none of us had any idea how hard it was for him, Robert Ruiz said. When she was offered time off, she was so worried that he wouldnt be cared for right that she refused, even though she really needed a break. Their love and concern prevented them from putting themselves ahead of anyone else.
Snohomish County Sheriffs detectives found no signs of forced entry in Robert and Karen Washburns house, where the couple lived alone. Detectives do not believe there is any threat to the neighborhood or the community. The cause and manner of death have yet to be announced by the Snohomish County Medical Examiners Office.
Robert and Karen Washburn are also survived by son-in-law Brent Sheffield, daughter LeAnn Adams of Anacortes, daughter and son-in-law Erin and Aaron Goodman of Tucson, Ariz., 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Robert is survived by brothers Jay Jenkins of Everett and Jimmy Jenkins of San Jose, Calif., and sisters Joyce Hunter of San Francisco and Marie Jenkins of La Jolla, Calif. Karen was preceded in death by her only sibling, Val Toolson.
Funeral services will be held at the LDS chapel in Arlington. Call 360-659-3711 for service information.