Obituary for William "Three Stars" Kaphaem

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by alexsidles, Aug 26, 2019.

  1. alexsidles

    alexsidles Paddler

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    Anyone here who has ever paddled Foster Island in Seattle's Lake Washington has no doubt encountered William Kaphaem, also known as "Three Stars." Three Stars lived out of a rowboat, which he would tie off in various locations beneath the 520 bridge. For many years, he was a familiar but unobtrusive sight to local paddlers. He was found dead in his boat earlier this month.

    I saw Three Stars often as I paddled the water mazes around Foster Island, but we spoke only once, many years ago, when I was launching my kayak at the old Museum of History and Industry boat ramp. Three Stars was walking along the shore, trailed by his ever-present dog, and stopped to talk to me. He showed me the baseball he used to play fetch with his dog. It was one of a collection of baseballs he had scooped out of the water over the years, fly balls that had sailed out of the nearby University of Washington practice field and ended up in the lake. Three Stars boasted that he sometimes even found footballs.

    I didn't ask any questions. His peaceful, reclusive existence did not seem to require anything of me.

    Alex
     
  2. chodups

    chodups Paddler

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    So sorry to hear about Three Stars passing. Like you, the old museum parking lot was one of my preferred put-ins until they closed it down for the 520 construction. During that closure I resorted to other put-ins but visited the Arboretum regularly and noted Three Stars various home locations. Before the access to the lagoon was reopened I skulked around a lot and noted that WSDOT and the construction company had turned a blind eye to his incursions. He stayed out of their way and they ignored him.

    The article has the location of his boat incorrect, though. The photo shown was taken from the east end of the footbridge as it comes out of Montlake towards Foster Island. That’s the spot where he parked his canoe when he was out doing errands. His home/boat had been tied up under the bridge near the west shore of Foster Island. It had been there for the past 2 – 3 years up against that corrugated metal “fence” that extended up from the lake bottom. I hadn’t seen him for some time but seldom failed to look to see if his boat was still there. I failed to look this past weekend on my way through the lagoon.

    So the Medical Examiner said that he had been dead for 8 months which puts his death around the first of the year. Since that time I have passed within 20-50 meters at least a dozen times and never smelled anything.

    RIP Three Stars
     
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  3. Rodnak Kayak

    Rodnak Kayak Paddler

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    Such a sad story.. I am sure I would have liked him. Seems he was more akin to dogs than people folk....RIP Three Stars.
     
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  4. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    There are fundamental elements of simplicity to our kayaks, the sticks we use to propel them, and the basic gear we use. There are parallels . . .

    ThreeStars3.jpg
     
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  5. alexsidles

    alexsidles Paddler

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    My family and I were out walking the Foster Island boardwalk this afternoon. On one of the old lookout docks, we found a small memorial someone made to William Kaphaem, using the same photos Mick Allen posted above. The memorial was simple and wordless, as Kaphaem himself generally was.

    IMG_7612.jpg

    Alex
     
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  6. chodups

    chodups Paddler

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    Touching. Folks live among us in such different circumstances. Three Stars walked among us.
     
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