Alfred Tennyson Vaughn; Turned To Poetry Late In Life
By Carole Beers
Seattle Times Staff Reporter
For his first six decades, Alfred Tennyson Vaughn, named after England's poet laureate, wasn't impressed with poetry.
Instead, he focused on building and operating radio and telegraph equipment for the U.S. Army in Alaska, then doing more modern communications work for Boeing.
Only when he retired did he begin to scribble a little. His first lines were on a restaurant napkin, but the resulting jingle about Seattle won him and his wife a trip to Las Vegas.
He then got serious about his writing. He published poems in magazines and in children's booklets. His letters to editors showed a wry wit, love for things literary and knowledge of the world.
"He was constantly writing or penning things," said his daughter Marilyn Sabo of Bothell. "His mind was always going."
Mr. Vaughn died Sunday (July 25) of cancer. He was 84.
The man many children called "Grandpa," for his age as well as for his warm presence and funny stories, was one of 12 children born to settlers in Entiat, Chelan County.
"Most of 'em were boys, and his mother was running out of names, but she liked poems and named him for (Alfred, Lord) Tennyson," said Sabo.
As a youth, Mr. Vaughn was more interested in the then-emerging technology of radio. He became a communications specialist after enlisting in the Army in the late 1930s. He served during World War II and the Korean War, spending many years at remote installations in Alaska.
He retired from the Army in 1959, went to work for Boeing in Seattle, then retired in 1971.
Through his life ran a thread not only of communications but also of devotion to his Christian faith, expressed in music and hospitality.
Active in his church, he sometimes played hymns such as "Amazing Grace" on the musical saw to the delight of parishioners and people at the missions.
"He used to joke that one side of the saw was `sharp' and the other, `flat,' " said his daughter.
Whenever he saw military personnel at a church service, he invited them home for supper.
And maybe, if the mood was right, he'd share a poem, or jot one on the spot.
Also surviving are his wife of 55 years, Naomi Vaughn of Bellevue; children Wesley Vaughn, Altavista, Va.; Roberta Culberson, Stockbridge, Ga.; and Marie Dusing, Poland, Ind.; 14 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.
Services are at 3 p.m. tomorrow at Fairview Church of God, 844 N.E. 78th St., Seattle. Donations may go to the church (ZIP: 98115).
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