July 5, 1953 – Baby Billy’s Birth
Seventy years ago today, Pauline Kombol bore her second son. Twelve months earlier, she buried her first daughter. Paula Jean lived for but two days. Paula’s father, Jack was sad. Pauline was devastated.
Just over a year later, the Kombol family gathered at Lake Retreat for their annual Fourth of July picnic. By late afternoon, Pauline’s father-in-law, Papa Tony Kombol had indigestion that he blamed on the baked beans. The next day after hearing Pauline had her baby, Tony, in his distinct Croatian accent said, “It must have been the beans.”
The boy was delivered on a Sunday at 5:04 pm at Seattle’s Doctor’s Hospital by Dr. Albert Lee with nurse, Anne Green in attendance. A year and one day later, on July 6, 1954, Pauline welcomed his baby sister, Jeanmarie into the world. For Billy and Jeanie Kombol, born on the 5th and 6th of July, Independence Day would always be the kickoff to their birthday celebrations.
As Pauline rested comfortably, her dad, John H. Morris stopped by to ask what she planned to name her son. Pauline had spent so much of her pregnancy praying for a healthy baby, that she’d given little thought to a name, either boy or girl. The boy’s grandfather, John H. Morris provided the answer – his first name would be William, in honor of his own brother, Bill, and the middle name John, after him. In 1982, that baby boy, William John Kombol assumed the same position as head of the family company, that his grandfather held for 30 years following Palmer Coking Coal’s founding in 1933.
As Pauline held her 7-pound, 12-ounce baby, she saw his eyes were blue and his hair was brown. The ‘Kombol, Boy’ record completed by Nurse Green listed his length at 20.5 inches with a head circumference of 13.5 inches. Billy, as he came to be known spent the first week of his life at Doctor’s Hospital, whose original façade and entrance at 9th and University is now a part of the Virginia Mason Medical Center on First Hill. The bill for the delivery, anesthesia, nursery, pharmacy, and lab work, plus a six-day hospital stay came to $193.40.
Letters of congratulations poured in from Aunt Nancy & Uncle Bill Morris (his namesake); Lloyd & Lucile Qually; Palma Weflen, Yvonne & Keith Grennan; Rose & Woodrow Gauthier; Wilfred & Wilma St. Clair; Marian Dahl, and Aunt Ruth Forest. Pauline’s mother, Marie mailed her a letter every day. Pauline kept all of them.
That week’s visitors to the hospital included his Grandma Marie & Grandpa John Morris; Aunt Nancy Morris, Aunt Nola Fontana, Aunt Alice & Uncle Jack Morris; Palma Weflen, Lucile Qually, Grandma Lulu Kombol & Aunt Dana Zaputil; plus Billy Guerrini with his Daddy, Jack. Bill Guerrini was a close childhood friend of Jack back in their Kangley days. Guerrini often told the story that Jack’s son was named after him.
On July 11, Pauline and baby Billy left the hospital and traveled several miles north to Aunt Nola’s home in Lake City. That Saturday night, Jack picked Pauline and Billy up driving them to the family’s rental home in Selleck. By Monday morning, Jack was back at work as a truck driver for Palmer Coking Coal.
Pauline poured all her love into the baby boy at that small Selleck home. It was built in 1912 to house workers of the long-since-closed sawmill. There she nurtured and cuddled Billy to ward off a repeat tragedy and heal the loss of Paula Jean. So, all the love she hadn’t buried with Paula was invested in Billy.
And that’s how William John Kombol grew up, surrounded by love and affection. As that grown boy writes another chapter in his story of scenes from a charmed life.
Who’s who among those named:
Pauline Lucile Morris (1927-2011) – Pauline was born the 4th of four children to John H. Morris and Nina Marie Morris. Both of her parents were children of Welsh coal miners named Morris who immigrated to America. She grew up in Durham, the coal mining town where so many of her Morris uncles and aunts lived, as did dozens of miners and their families. Pauline moved to Enumclaw at age six, graduated from EHS in 1945, and married Jack Kombol in late 1950.
Laverne Shercliffe “Jack” Kombol (1921-1979) – Jack was born the 4th of five children to Tony Kombol and Lulu Shircliff. He was struck with polio at age six so didn’t attend school for two years. Jack dropped out of high school at age 19 and moved to Seattle where he lived with his sister, Nola, and drove trucks for the garbage companies. He bounced around at a number of jobs but mostly worked in the woods driving logging trucks and running equipment. Jack joined Palmer Coking Coal Co. in June 1952, the same month Paula Jean died. He died of pancreatic cancer at age 57.
Paula Jean Kombol (1952-1952) – Paula died two days after birth and is buried in the Enumclaw cemetery about 50 feet from her parent’s grave.
Tony Kombol (1884-1967) – Jack’s father, Tony emigrated from Croatia at age 17 and made his way to Roslyn where he joined two brothers as coal miners. Tony worked at the Ravensdale mine, avoiding the 1915 explosion that claimed 31 lives. The family moved to Arizona and Montana where he worked the copper mines before returning to Washington. A 1925 explosion nearly blinded him and he could no longer work. For the next 42 years, he kept track of their small farm and worked around the home.
Lulu (Shircliff) Kombol (1885-1976) – Jack’s mother, Lulu was born in Walla Walla to Jennie Brown, age 17 who was seven months pregnant. Jennie married William Shircliff, an Army paymaster clerk, who abandoned his wife and daughter after eight months of marriage. Lulu’s mother remarried and she grew up on a Cowlitz River farm. Lulu attended Bellingham Normal School attaining her teacher’s certificate and eventually moved to Ravensdale where teachers were paid more. After bearing five children, she went back to teaching, primarily in Cumberland and Selleck schools after Tony’s mine accident In total, Lulu taught for more than 50 years before retiring at age 80.
John Henry Morris (1894-1973) – Pauline’s father was born in Wilkeson into a large family of coal miners. John’s mother and father emigrated from Wales shortly after their marriage. His father and brothers all worked in the coal mines, eventually rising through the ranks and starting their own coal mining company, then a second named Morris Brothers. John with three brothers and one investor started Palmer Coking Coal Co. in August 1933, during the darkest days of the Great Depression.
Nina Marie (Morris) Morris (1890-1967) – Pauline’s mother was born in the coal mining town of Franklin. Her father, Joshua was a coal miner who in 1880 was on the prospecting party that discovered coal seams in the Green River Gorge that led to the establishment of Black Diamond and Franklin. Shortly after Marie’s birth, the family moved to Osceola where Joshua farmed in the summer and mined coal in the winter. Marie and her two sisters, Lena and Ruth graduated from Buckley H.S. and all three become school teachers. She met John while teaching in Wilkeson where he was working in the coal mines.
Uncle Bill Morris (1897-1979) – William “Bill” Morris was the closest brother to John H. Morris, thus a great uncle to his namesake, Bill Kombol. Bill Morris was a jack-of-all-trades around the coal mines, working primarily on the surface in the preparation plants.
Aunt Nancy (Boots) Morris (1899-1969) – Nancy and her husband Bill lost two children, each of whom died shortly after childbirth. Great Aunt Nancy often babysat the Kombol children in their Four Corners home.
Lloyd & Lucile Qually – Lloyd was the head mechanic for Pacific States Lumber, the company that owned the town of Selleck. He held that job until the mill closed in 1939. Lucile was a school teacher with Lulu Kombol at the old Selleck School that burned down in 1929. Eventually, they lived in the town’s biggest home, once occupied by Frank Selleck. The Quallys were good friends of Jack and Pauline.
Palma Weflen – Census records show she was a 55-year-old widow and nurse living with a family in Seattle. Most likely she was a kind of a midwife to Pauline.
Yvonne (Cross) & Keith Grennan – Yvonne was one of Pauline’s best friends from high school. Her husband Keith was a brother to Dolly (Grennan) Fugate another of Pauline’s good friends.
Rose (Kombol) Gauthier (1920-2001) was Jack’s first cousin who moved from Roundup Montana when she was 16 to live with the Kombol family in Kangley. She went to work at the Durham Hotel, which was managed by Jonas and Maggie Morris, John H., and Bill Morris’ older brother. Rose married Woodrow Gauthier (1913-2001) (pronounced goat-chee), a logger and later a sawmill owner. Jack worked for Gauthier Brothers Lumber & Logging Co. on and off for 10 years.
Wilfred & Wilma St. Clair were next-door neighbors to the home of Tony & Lulu Kombol, and friends with Jack & Pauline. Two of their sons, Bill and Dick St. Clair often played with the Kombol boys.
Marian Dahl (1912-2005) was Pauline’s cousin, though almost a generation older.
Ruth (Morris) Forest (1892-1968) was Pauline’s aunt and Nina Marie Morris’ sister, hence Bill’s great-aunt. She was born on the Fourth of July.
Dana (Kombol) Zaputil (1918-2012) was Jack’s oldest sister, married to Frank Zaputil (1914-1984), hence Bill’s aunt and uncle.
Nola (Kombol) Fontana (1919-2017) was Jack’s older sister, married to Chester Fontana (1916-1971), hence Bill’s aunt and uncle. Chester’s Fontana relatives, who during Prohibition were involved in bootlegging gifted Chester & Nola their Lake City home in 1940. When Jack moved to Seattle to drive garbage trucks during the war years, he stayed at Chester and Nola’s Lake City home paying for his room and board. Twenty-five years later, when Bill took a bank job in Seattle he stayed with his Aunt Nola and paid her for room and board. Nola lived in that home for 77 years before dying there in 2017.
Billy Guerrini, at age 97 is still alive and lives in the family home in Kangley. Jack was best friends with his brother Martin “Fats” Guerrini, but after Fats died during WW-II, Jack and Billy became close friends. When Jack drove to the hospital to see his new baby boy name Billy, Billy Guerrini came in with him.