Monday, July 23, 2012

Lost General: Seattle's favorite clown, J.P. Patches

Seattle's beloved clown, J.P. Patches (Chris Wedes), is given his certificate as a Washington
General after being honored at Lt. Gov. Brad Owen's Strategies for Youth banquet
on Sept. 8, 2008. Bestowing the certificate is then Commanding General Chuck Hardaway and
the lieutenant governor. 
Among the many honors Chris Wedes earned over a lifetime of making kids laugh as Seattle's most venerable clown, J.P. (Julius Pierpont) Patches, was that of Washington General, bestowed on him during Lt. Gov. Brad Owen's Strategies for Youth fundraising banquet in 2008 at the Emerald Downs racetrack in Auburn.

Wedes, 84, died July 22 after a long fight with cancer, leaving behind generations of "Patches Pals" and fans across the nation.

Wedes was the featured guest at the banquet. In addition to being named a General, he received Strategies' "I Care about Kids" Award and was given a patchwork quilt sewn by the lieutenant governor's spouse Linda. Accompaning Wedes that night was his wife of 52 years, Joan.

The J.P. Patches popular show featuring a whacky cast of characters entertained children on Seattle's KIRO TV from 1958 to 1981. Wedes continued to entertain children and adults at parades, festivals and other and local events well into his early 80s, despite his illness.

"He will be missed," said Roger Flygare, adjutant general. Media coverage of General Patches' death has been extensive, including these obituaries in the Seattle Times and on KIRO TV.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

General Dreps receives certificate of appreciation from First Gentleman Mike Gregoire

Skip Dreps, left, with Mike Gregoire and Ralph Ibarra

Washington General Skip Dreps, a former AWG board member who has served as the organization's liaison for veterans' affairs, was given a surprise certificate of appreciation by Mike Gregoire, spouse of the governor, at the association's board meeting in Olympia on July 10.

In giving the award, Gregoire noted Dreps' long service as an advocate for veterans as a "dedicated member of Paralyzed Veterans of America and high degree of professionalism" and as a "voice for military veterans and their families."

The certificate was signed by both Gregoire, who is also a member of the AWG, and by John Lee, director of the state's Department of Veterans Affairs. Lee was also scheduled to appear but sent his regrets due to a family matter.

Its full text states:

For lifetime achievement as a true veterans advocate, contributor to the enrichment of communities around the state, and voice for the enhancement of quality of life for our military and their families.
Not only have you been a vigilant and effective purveyor of legislative ideas to support veterans and their families, and a dedicated member of the Paralyzed Veterans of America; you have also served in that capacity as a Washington General and in each case, have done so with dedication and a high degree of professionalism.
We salute you for a job very well done!

Commanding General Ralph Ibarra joined Gregoire in thanking Dreps for his service. Dreps resigned from the AWG board earlier this year because of an illness, but has remained active in the organization.

Dreps has represented the AWG at numerous veterans events in recent years. His biography is below.

Skip Dreps was drafted into the United States Army in 1969 and re-enlisted twice before leaving military service with extensive spinal cord injuries following many airborne operations. During his military service he was a medical non-commissioned officer assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group, 173rd Airborne Brigade, the 509th Airborne Battalion Combat Team Allied Mobile Force (Europe) and assigned as a military advisor to NATO Headquarters in Shape, Belgium. His awards and decorations include the Combat Medical Badge, Army Commendation Medal, Master Parachutist Badge, and Aircrew Members Badge. He was also a graduate of the French Commando School and was awarded the French Parachutist Badge.

Following his military service he graduated from the University of Florida with a teaching degree in Secondary Schools and was an Upward Bound Instructor. He was recruited by the Paralyzed Veterans of America in 1984 and was trained as a National Service Officer. In 1997 he went to work as the Government Relations Director for the Northwest Chapter Paralyzed Veterans of America until September 2008. He was a Steering Committee member of the Garden of Remembrance, a memorial at the Seattle Benaroya Hall that memorializes all Washington State sons and daughters killed in war since 1941. He served as a Board of Trustee to the Veterans Cemetery at Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery for ten years. He was a member of the Seattle VA’s Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Care Committee and served on King County’s Americans with Disabilities Advisory Board.

He served as a member of the Institutional Review Board at the Seattle Institute for Biomedical and Clinical Research Corporation at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. He has been awarded the Outstanding Veteran of the Year Award by the Governor’s Veterans Advisory Committee and Washington Department of Veterans Affairs, received the White Ribbon Award by the Washington Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, and was honored by both the Makah Nation and the Choctaw Nation for his work with the Native Americans Veterans Association. He currently serves as the Ambassador and member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, Association of Washington Generals.


AWG Board members with Skip Dreps and First Gentleman Mike Gregoire. From left: Brian Dirks, Mark Gjurasic, Sharon Kinder, Dreps, Gregoire, Roger Flygare, Ralph Ibarra, Jim Zimmerman, Miland Walling and John Welsh.