Obituary Listings

Claude A. Wilbur
There are condolences waiting approval on Claude's Tribute wall
Obituary for Claude A. Wilbur

On April 16, 2018, surrounded by his family and ancestors, Swinomish’s oldest elder, Claude Wilbur Sr, Kuts-bat-soot, went on to the other side.

Our quiet hero and decorated Korean War Veteran Papa Claude is loved and cherished by all who had the pleasure of knowing him. He lived a Swinomish way of life as a person of the tide, patriot, entrepreneur, brother, father, grandfather, mentor, community leader, shuffle board connoisseur and basketball champion.

At a young age Claude fell in love with the ‘ways of the water’. That love carried through his entire life- even when his body was no longer seaworthy, he kept on by mentoring and teaching numerous fisherman. Because of Claude, generations to come will know how to navigate the Coast Salish Sea, find salmon runs, successfully sustain themselves with plentiful harvest and take care of Salmon over an open fires.

His style of leadership exuded the traditional family values of Swinomish people- a life for “us, our, we”, he exemplified humble strength and gentle teachings. His legacy and smile will live on far beyond the next seven generations.

Claude came into this world at the Wilbur Family Homestead on The Swinomish Reservation on June 1, 1927. He attended LaConner Schools, and upon graduation, he worked as a logger until volunteering for The United States Armed Services in 1951. He served in the Intelligence and Reconnaissance 40th Infantry Division during The Korean War where he was sent on several missions across enemy lines to sneak into enemy encampments and gather intelligence. His bravery was recognized and celebrated, decorating Claude with an Army Occupation Medal of Japan, a Combat Infantryman Badge, a Korean Service Medal with Two Bronze Service Stars and a United Nations Service Medal. Upon his honorable discharge, Claude returned home to begin his long career of service at the Swinomish Tribe. He opened a fireworks business with his brother Tandy Wilbur Jr. under the name “Totem Pole Fireworks”. He also worked for the tribe as the Director of the Youth Recreation Department and later as the Community Action Director where he participated in the development of the Swinomish Housing Authority. In the late ‘60’s he helped the tribe open the Swinomish Indian Fish Company selling Swinomish caught salmon at the Pike Place Market in Seattle and markets in New York and Chicago. He also opened the Swinomish Fish Market attached to the Fish Plant where he sold fresh and smoked salmon. After leaving the fish plant in 1976 he spent his time commercial fishing, teaching people to smoke fish, hang nets and carve fish cooking sticks from iron wood. During this time he met the love of his life, Marilyn Welch, whom he loved for 37 years.

He is preceded in death by parents Tandy Wilbur, Sr., Laura Wilbur, brother’s Tandy Wilbur, Jr., Doug Wilbur and Bill Wilbur.
He is survived by his Significant Other Marilyn Welch. Siblings Marvin Wilbur, Sr.(Joan) Vincent Wilbur and Lorraine Loomis. Children Claude Wilbur Jr. and (Carol Johnson), Jim “Jimmy” Wilbur, Lisa Wilbur and (Jeff Solomon), Laural and (Tim Ballew Sr), Lona Wilbur and Nathan Welch (Tara Little). Grandchildren Jeremy and (Tami), Jennifer Wilbur , Laura Wilbur, Summer Jean Charles, Greg Edwards Jr and (Toni Charlie), Lenee Edwards (Scott Schyler), Ida Larie Edwards (Donald Clark), Tim Ballew II (Leanne), Raymond Ballew and Amanda Woodenlegs Solomon; Great grandchildren Domenic Wilbur, Aubrey Stewart, Austin and Alex Stewart, Layla Wilbur, Ryan Charles and Gavin Charles-Day, Lauren and Lorena Edwards, Al and Troy Sampson, Shaelene Fryberg (David Raya), Lanessa Fryberg, Kaleb and Claudia Parker and Chloe Edwards, Hunter and Tandy Ballew, Josephine Woodenlegs, Angelina Woodenlegs and Rafael Cruz; great, great grandchildren: Kinzley Raya and Loucian Fryberg and. God Children Lenora Cook, Wilbert James and Joey Foster Houde.

Prayer services will be held on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, 6:00 PM followed by funeral services that will be held on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 10:00 AM. Both services will be held at the Swinomish Gymnasium.
Memorials may be given to a charity of choice.
You may offer your condolences to Claude’s family and share memories online at
Arrangements are under the care of Kern Funeral Home

To send flowers or a remembrance gift to the family of Claude A. Wilbur, please visit our Tribute Store.


Create new album
Subscribe To Obituaries

We appreciate your support
In accordance with the wishes of the family, this
message has been declined.
Claude A. Wilbur

Thank you for sharing your
memory of Claude

Provide comfort by sending fresh
flowers from our local florist.

Send Flowers
No thanks, please don't show me this again.