At the center of our photo from this past July is West Seattleite Rusty Harper, photographed as he led his fellow Seafair Pirates ashore at Alki Beach as this year’s “Captain Kidd.” Last weekend, Mr. Harper died at just 56 years old. His wife Bonnie shares this remembrance:
October 1957 – December 2013
Rusty Harper, of West Seattle, will be remembered most recently as Captain Kidd of the Seattle Seafair Pirates this year. He loved the camaraderie and being a part of the “historic tapestry of Seattle”. He got the biggest thrill at the start of every Torchlight Parade. Looking straight down 4th Avenue at the throngs of people waiting for the first cannon blast from the Moby Duck was his favorite moment each year. His Pirate friends became his brothers, and brothers help make a place a home. His motto was “Tempus Fugit.”
His friends knew him as a Southern Gentleman. He was born in a small town in Mississippi, but spent most of his youth in Mobile, Alabama. Although he and his wife of 20 years, Bonnie, lived in Seattle since 1995, Rusty retained his beautiful accent. After a career in real estate, Rusty went to culinary school, which brought him to Seattle. He worked in the food manufacturing industry for years, but most recently joined Sage Fly Fishing on Bainbridge Island.
Rusty was on a continuous journey to enrich his mind and soul. His search led him to convert to Catholicism in his early 30’s. He was a passionate reader of literature, history, sci-fi and horror. He wanted to finish War and Peace, but only made it through the difficult part that was written in French – he had so looked forward to reading the rest in English. He loved graphic novels and comics, too. He spent many hours with his nose buried in the Dark Knight series of Batman. He loved art and music. As a baby boomer, of course there was AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, but he developed a profound love of jazz and big band music, particularly Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Duke Ellington. Travel was a big part of Rusty’s life. In recent trips to Europe, he spent many happy hours exploring art and culture. Several petite Parisian ladies working in a tiny chocolate shop might remember the shock of seeing a big redhead in a trench coat burst through the doors declaring in French, “I am an American chocolatier – where is the metro?”.
Rusty was the only son of Patricia Harper, who lives in Mobile, and the late Russell Harper. Rusty is remembered by his wife and her big family of sisters, nieces, nephews, and their children who loved their Uncle Rusty. His “hey, ya’ll”, “Roll Tide!”, big grin, and hearty laugh will be profoundly missed. Tempus fugit. Vita brevis.
Mr. Harper’s memorial is this Saturday (December 7th), 2-4 pm at The Sanctuary at Admiral (2656 42nd SW).