Donald Louis Peppan, circa 1924 Donald Louis Peppan
and
C
atherine Marie Stuckey
Catherine Marie Stuckey, 1924

Lawrence and Kit, circa 1918
Lawrence and Kit
circa 1919

In 1918, Catherine Marie "Kit" Stuckey married Lawrence W. Chester.  Together they had Laurel May Chester, born January 6, 1919, but not long after, Kit and Lawrence divorced.

Lawrence then married a woman named Elizabeth, but that didn't work out and Lawrence's third wife, according to Kit's sisters, Pink and Merle, was a woman named "815".

Kit "started seeing this handsome young fella, named Don Peppan".

Laurel May "Pat" Chester Peppan, circa 1820-something

Laurel May Chester mid-1920s

Don Peppan and Kit Stuckey went everywhere together on Don's motorcycle, a 101 Indian Scout.

Right around 1924, Kit's sisters sternly cautioned her that she "had better marry that Don Peppan."  Don had no problem with that and off they went to Canada.  Though Kit's sisters couldn't remember exactly where or when, a fellow Fort Langley researcher Mike Kenny spotted there marriage registration at the British Columbia On-line Archives, so I now know that Don and Kit were married on April 3, 1925, in New Westminster, British Columbia . . . and that Kit lied: She claimed that her maiden name was Chester.

Shortly after the marriage, Don adopted Laurel May, and then enlisted Kit's assistance in giving Laurel May (whom everyone called "Pat") three siblings.  Those three were: Shirley Rose "Toots" Peppan, Donald William "Bud" Peppan, and Jack Lewis "Peppy" Peppan.

Shirley Rose Peppan
     aka Tootsie aka Toots aka Shirley
Shirely and husband Bob Sellers Born November 3, 1925, in Ballard, Washington.

She was married three times: Bob Sellers, Art Arneson, and Ralph Caillier, giving birth to 6 children.

She died January 1, 1984, in Tacoma, Washington.
Cause of death: Aneurysm. 

I didn't know my Aunt Toots was doing family research, too, until after she died.

Talking to my cousin Diane, she mentioned -- in that casual sorta way folks in my family do -- that back in the late 70s/early 80s, "Shirley answered a knock on her door to find Chief Dan George standing on her front porch.  She invited him in they had a real nice visit".

As a small child I wanted to be just like my Aunt Toots when I grew up, and that has -- in part -- happened.  Though her genealogy research has never surfaced, I've picked up the ball and am running with it for all I'm worth.

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Donald William Peppan
     aka Buddie aka Bud aka Don
Born June 17,1927, in Ballard, Washington

Bud enjoyed motorcycle racing, fishing, and was an avid hunter.  He was also a veteran of WW II, Korea, Viet Nam, and assorted squabbles and scraps, police and military actions, in between.  To relax when he was in either Korea or Viet Nam, he'd walk the beach at night, playing his bag pipes.  I recently found a stash of photographs he took while in the service and had mailed home.

Technical Sergent Donald W. Peppan, getting settled.

Says the back of the picture, "A few of our HOK's"

Though not all the photos have dates, he was real good about labeling them.  There are photographs from Cherry Point, North Carolina (USMC Air Station; Home of the Second Marine Air Wing), and Sukiran, Okinawa, plus a couple labeled "aboard ship coming over". 

One story I heard growing up was how my Uncle Bud had landed an airplane in a rice paddy without benefit of landing gear and walked away from it.  Daddy said that was the tour that his brother came home from with grey hair and a stutter.  I've since talked to pilots who say ANY landing you can walk away from is a good landing.

As my genealogy work progressed, I got curious about the landing story.  On the Korean War Project web site, I posted a query, asking if there was anyone out there who had seen or heard about such a thing.  On April 16, 2003, I received an email from one such individual (thanks a million, Peter).  He said, and I quote: 

During fall 1951 I saw a Marine pilot in a F4U make a wheels-up landing on a crude airstrip which was intended for use by light aircraft (L-19 observation planes).

He not only walked away from it but a few days later after some minor repairs, the plane was flown out.

The airstrip was located near the Punchbowl which is about 20 miles inland from the Sea of Japan and about the same distance north of the 38th Parallel. The strip was designated as X-83 but I believe it  was later changed to K-50 or 51 after it had been improved. At the time of your uncle's landing, X-83  was in the area of operations of the 1st. Marine Division.

Ted Barker (father of the Barker who founded and operates the Korean War Project web site) flew out X-83 and may have been there when your uncle landed.

I happened to be on a hill (mountain) overlooking the airstrip and saw your uncle land. The strip was surrounded on all sides by mountains or high hills. He didn't have any appreciable margin of error in the approach and touch-down.

If he had come down just a little too early he would have hit a mountain coming in; If he had come down just a little late he would have hit the base of a mountain at the end of the strip. The landing strip was designed to handle very light planes which travel at a much slower speed than the F4U and thus require a much shorter landing strip.

The landing would have been a great feat for a plane in perfect operating order but as I recall his plane was either hit by AA fire or was having mechanical problems.

He did a great job!!

Now, I don't know for certain if this was Uncle Bud's landing, but it sounds enough like that I've put it here.  If it so happens that this miraculous landing was made by your relative, please let me know.

If you had a loved one in the Korean War and have never checked out The Korean War Project, please do.  And if you can find it in your hearts to help them stay on line by purchasing a membership, please do.

Why should you help out?

Their Finding The Families Project is the leading volunteer program to seek out DNA samples.
Their Remembrance section is a one-of-a-kind place to Remember the Lost from Korea.
Their Looking For section has over 60,000 names and entries of Korean War Veterans, Family Members, and Groups, with over 1700 individual unit pages.
Their Casualty Databases are the most comprehensive Korean War files anywhere.
Their DMZ War Veterans pages list hundreds of veterans from 1953 onward.

Donald William Peppan died March 27, 1999, at the Evergreen Hospital in Redmond, Washington, from complications of multiple strokes

His obit says the rest.

Bud and his helicopter, probably in Korea Donald W. Peppan
USMC Retired
17 June 1927 - 27 March 1999
Bud, circa 1944

God decided he had one more battle to fight and he fought till the end.  You're at peace now, Dad.  In our hearts forever.  Your loving wife, Margaret; daughter Debe and husband Ron; daughter Robbyn and husband Dave, son Joe; grandchildren: Brandie, Andrew, and Matthew; and great great granddaughter K-K.

At his request, no services were held.

Debe, 1963.  Though she's Aunt Marge's daughter from her 1st marriage, Uncle Bud was the only Dad she knew. Robbyn, 1963 Joe, 1963
Debe Robbyn Joe

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In 1967, Daddy, me, and Don joined Uncle Bud, Aunt Marge, and cousins Robbyn and Joe, for a fishing trip to Neah Bay, on the northwest tip of Washington state's Olympic Peninsula.  About mid-way through the trip, Donnie and Joe came running up to the campsite, so excited neither could complete a full sentence; they had just discovered some jellyfish left on the beach after high tide.  Uncle Bud says, "Y'know, you could make yourselves some jelly sandwiches." and Daddy nodded, and before you knew it, their two sons were bolting for the beach, bread and butter knives in hand.  Daddy and Uncle Bud collapsed in laughter that was cut short by Aunt Marge coming in and asking, "Where were they off to in such a hurry?"

Somehow they explained (I can no longer remember the specifics), and Aunt Marge roared after them.  She hauled her son and nephew back, and the first words I could make out were, ". . . and certainly not with my good knives."  She stood them in front of their fathers and said, "Okay, Funny Boys, now explain to them why they really can't make jelly sandwiches."

Once the explaining was done, they were two very disappointed little boys, but their disappointment didn't last long; Daddy and Uncle Bud took them out to a place out in the Straits of Juan de Fuca called The Hole, and had a good day fishing.

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Jack Lewis Peppan
     aka Jackie aka Tiny aka Little Peppy aka Peppy
Jack Lewis Peppan 1955 Born June 27, 1928, in Ballard, Washington

He rode for Seattle's Queen City Motorcycle Club in the 1940s and early 1950s, making quite a name for himself as a hillclimber and mud racer, and did a short but successful stint racing 3/4 midgets.  He worked for Broadway Harley Davidson, Independent Delivery, Smith Gandy Ford, and Bill Pierre Ford, as a mechanic, and was an avid outdoors man. 

He was also in Germany with the US Army's occupational forces just after WW II -- and did not have a real high opinion of his brother's choice of places to play his bag pipes.

Jack Lewis Peppan died November 4, 1997, at the Arden Nursing Home in Shoreline, Washington, from complications of multiple strokes.

It's tough to summarize Daddy's life because he was so many things to so many people.

After leaving the US Army, he worked for
Broadway Harley Davidson in Seattle as a mechanic, then for Independent Delivery in Seattle as an on-call mechanic.  After particularly nasty emergency repair that involved laying on his back in 6 inches of slush to repair a broken driveline, he went to work for Smith Gandy Ford of Seattle, located at what is now the northeast corner of Olive and Boren in downtown Seattle.  They were so delighted to have him, they announced it in big bold letters on their reader board.

Says the reader board, "Peppy is here / mech for your Renault & Peugeot"
"Peppy is here!"

He taught my two brothers and I useful things: the best way to remove rock salt from one's backside, how to tell if a spark plug wire was bad, and just how far mashed potatoes could be sprayed nasally.  He was there when the teenager's car broke down in the middle of the night out in the middle of nowhere.  When my brothers were racing bicycle motocross, he showed them the meaning of good sportsmanship by helping out the other boys my brothers raced against with spare parts and at-the-track emergency repairs . . . just as his father did for his fellow racers when he was racing motorcycle.  And if he saw someone broken down at the side of the road, he'd stop; he always carried a full toolbox, baling wire, duct tape . . . and a custom lead-filled pool cue.

When he was a boy, he pushed back outhouses on Halloween, and would set bags of-- naw.  Let's not go there.  I wouldn't want to give impressionable young minds any ideas.  If you remember outhouses as standard fare, you know exactly what he did.

While in the army, stationed at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Washington, he told his CO there was a family emergency and he needed weekend leave.  It was granted.

The family emergency was that there was a motorcycle race that he really really wanted to ride in it (it was a mud run and Bud was over-seas).  All went well until he rode through a mud hole -- well, perhaps "through" isn't the right word.  He rode into a mud hole, and he and his motorcycle were covered with the thick nasty stuff.  As he pushed out, Seattle Post Intelligencer photographer, Stuart Hertz, snapped his picture, a picture that made it into a paper that Peppy's CO saw.  There was no disciplinary action taken, but Peppy was warned that if it happened again, there would be.

But, I think one of the best Daddy-and-the-Motorcycle stories is when he returned stateside from Germany.

Located in what is now Mountlake Terrace Washington, was a sand pit.  With its steep, sandy sides, it was Daddy's favourite place to practice his hill climbing technique.

So, there he was, honourably discharges from the US Army and it was his very first day home.  The last time he had been on his beloved big blue Harley was when he got his picture in the Seattle Post Intelligencer, before he went overseas.  Without speaking to one other soul, he got to his parent's house, hooked the trailer to his pickup truck, loaded his Harley on the trailer, and headed off to the Sand Pit.

Once there, he uploaded his Harley, put the racing skid chains on the back wheel, and fired his old friend up.

With a thunderous roar, he shot up the steepest hill there, exulting in the wildness of the ride.  He shot up over the lip of the cliff at full racing throttle, both wheels leaving the ground . . .

. . . to discover that while he'd been in Germany, a house had been built at the top of the hill.

I don't know who was more surprised, Daddy or the fellow who owned the home and had so fastidiously groomed that weed-free grass.  A fellow who was in his back yard when Daddy popped up over the top of the cliff.  With the understandably upset home owner running towards him with a wicked looking metal rake, all Daddy could do was wait until gravity took over and brought him back down to ground.  Once he achieved touch-down, he grabbed fist-full of throttle, slewed that big blue Harley around in a cascading rooster-tail of thick sod and grass, and hammered it back down the hill and upon to the trailer.  Without bothering to load his ramp (a 2 X 6 board), he leaped into his truck and beat it out of there.

For many years, this was where the story ended.  However, not long after I started driving taxi cab in 1981, I got to chatting with one of my brother cabbies and told him the above story.  About half way through, he started to grin, and that grin turned into a belly laugh.

When he could talk again, he said that when he was growing up, some friends of the family had told a story about how this S.O.B. on a big blue Harley had come rocketing up out of the sand pit and cut a wide swath of destruction in their beautiful back yard.  According to my brother cabbie, even after repairing the worst of the damage, the lawn never really recovered, and he said he wished he had stayed in contact with that family so he could pass along the "other side of the story".  He was certain that after that many years, they'd get a real kick out of it, and with Daddy still alive at that point, it would have been fun to get the two families together.

To see Daddy's racing pictures, please click here.

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Jim, Don, and Lisa, circa 1967

Peppy and wife Joan have 3 children, Lisa, Don, and Jim

Jim, Don, and Lisa, April 15, 1979

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This page updated 16 April 2003