Nathan Paul Bahner was born on October 10, 1978 in Anchorage, Alaska to Darrel and Ina Bahner. He died on August 10, 2012 in a off Mercer Island, Washington.
Nate’s family moved to Mercer Island when Nate was 6 months old. He attended where he first met Mollie LeClercq. Reports from this time suggest that Mollie was quite impressed with this attractive young man, buff and charismatic even at the tender age of 3.
Nate had an unrelenting energy, vitality and zest for life. “He was an extremely active child,” his Dad said in a moment of vast understatement. His Mom enrolled him in soccer at age 4 just, as she put it, “to wear him out”. It didn’t work. Nate’s love of sports was insatiable. Snow skiing, water skiing, tennis, flag football, pickle ball, water polo. In high school he played soccer, football, basketball. He loved them all, but water sports were his favorites. Like his body, Nate’s mind was always in motion. He had a keen intellect and a natural curiosity that led him to discover and mine new areas of knowledge, quickly and in detail. His diverse and ever-evolving interests were a source of great entertainment and education for his family and friends. His interest in diet, nutrition and health, however, seemed to be the constant. Nate’s Dad remembers frequent lectures about “eating properly”, the definition of which was strictly Nate’s, and, of course, subject to change based upon the latest research. Nate’s friends remember being invited for dinner and never knowing if it would be kale or quinoa - or pizza.
At , Nate served on the Student Board and also on the Junior Board (he later served on the Club board as an adult). His greatest honor, however, was being voted by his class to speak at commencement – an indication of the high regard in which he was held by his peers.
Nate attended the University of Washington, graduating in Communications in 2002. He was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity (“Fiji’s”) and served as rush chairman. Nate loved his time in the fraternity and at the University, and, as always, forged many close and lasting friendships.
After graduating from the University of Washington, Nate held jobs in property management. Nate was the Manager of the Marina Division of LeClercq Marine Construction where his enthusiasm, professionalism and love of people flourished. Nate was the Chairman of the Marina Committee of the Northwest Marine Trade Association.
Family vacations and trips were a source of great pleasure for Nate and his family. His insatiable curiosity about the world around him was fueled in his youth by trips to Australia, New Zealand, South America, Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore. When he was older, it was fishing trips with his Dad. Later, trips to Hawaii with Mollie and her family. When he and Mollie married and started their own family, trips to Disneyland and Hawaii defined their lives and deepened family bonds.
Family and friends were Nate’s reason for living. It would be hard to draw a line and say this is where Nate’s family stops and his friends start. It was a continuum, a continuum that centered on Mercer Island and the water –specifically, the LeClercq residence where Mollie lived. Nate spent many happy hours and days with the LeClercqs water skiing, boating, swimming, and pushing friends off the dock. It seemed that Nate had adopted the LeClercqs, or they him. Nicky LeClercq was his lifelong friend and was ostensibly the reason he was there, but Nicky had a sister named Mollie, and, as everyone knows now, that Emmanuel Day Preschool crush had never been extinguished. Someone said that they were looking at photos from these years on the lake and noticed that Nate and Mollie always seemed to be in the same photos – not exactly together, but never apart.
Nate and Mollie were married on April 2, 2005 thus culminating a 24 year “courtship”. It was the happiest moment of their lives and a joyous time of celebration for all their friends and family. They soon began preparation for parenthood by acquiring, serially, three dogs: Merlin, Jasmin, and Mookie. Nate once asked his father, “Why did I buy that third dog?” and then promptly went out and bought a cat. And then it was time for the real thing: Fatherhood. Nate’s Mom recalled enrolling him in a creative dramatics class when he was 3. To her surprise, he loved it. It might seem like a stretch to say that this was preparation for the most important role of his life, but if you saw him playing with his children you could see the elements of performance and the love and joy that ensued. It was theater of the heart. Daniel was the first born in 2006, then Andrew in 2008, and lastly Carmen in 2009. Nate took to fatherhood the same way he did to virtually everything in his life: with passion, energy and unbridled enthusiasm. If you’ve heard the phrase, “the Nate Bahner way” you’ll understand. It involved making sure that fun was had. By everyone.
Nate was a very talented and creative writer and speaker. His Dad said writing may have been his true calling. Those who read his uproarious blog accounts of the trials of fatherhood and pet ownership will agree. Best of all, we have these blogs to remember him by.
There’s really no way to do justice to the spirit and memory of Nate. Each of us has a memory of Nate, or maybe several, or maybe a hundred, and they’re all precious, and funny, and touching at the same time. Perhaps the sum of these memories and stories can come close to capturing his spirit. One quick story his Mom told might provide insight. When Nate was very young, his family moved to a new house on the Island. This house was at the top of a very steep driveway. Nate, upon seeing this intimidating stretch of asphalt, immediately jumped on his bike – training wheels and all – and launched himself down it.
That was Nate, throwing himself headlong into life, lost in the joy of the moment. Nate used to debate his boys about who loved whom the most. Daniel, a big fan of Buzz Lightyear, told his dad, “I love you to infinity and beyond.” Nate, momentarily stumped, came back with, “I love you to infinity and beyond… and back again!” That phrase became a part of Nate’s permanent bond with his children. Nate, that’s how much we all loved you. And miss you.
Nate is survived by his beloved wife Mollie Bahner, his sons Daniel and Andrew and daughter Carmen, his mother Ina Bahner, his father Darrel Bahner and Penny Bahner, sisters Ashley Bahner and Lori Rhodes, brothers Brian Bahner (Tammy), Adam Shafer (Holly), and Ryan Shafer(Anh), his father-in-law Sam LeClercq (Melinda and her children Cody and Kristina Hall), his brothers-in-law Sam LeClercq (Sarah) and Nick LeClercq (Kasey).
A Celebration of Nate’s life will be held at the Mercer Island Country Club beginning at 4:00 pm Friday, August 17th.
If you wish to make a donation in Nate’s memory please go to www.weloveyouNateBahner.wordpress.com. Click on the link at the top of the page entitled “How You Can Help”.