Edward Lee (Ed) Nugent

December 30, 1956 — April 24, 2022

Edward Lee (Ed) Nugent was born early and unexpectedly in Aberdeen WA on December 30, 1956 while his parents Jim and Bev were on a late season elk hunting trip. Bev joked that he was ready to “get an elk” from the moment of birth. He died suddenly and too soon on April 24th 2022.

Raised in the tiny community of Kid Valley WA, the third of four brothers, Ed grew up as a kid of the woods — fishing, hunting and foraging through the seasons, with the run of the Mt St Helens tree farm at his back door. Ed attended Toutle Lake School from 1st grade to graduation in 1976, where he played many sports with distinction but with a special love of football and wrestling. He was the star fullback of his senior year homecoming game, carrying the ball 28 times for 90 yards and three touchdowns to lead the team to a 27-6 homecoming victory. Go Ducks!

Upon graduation, like so many of the men in his family before him, Ed hitched himself to Weyerhaeuser and went to work in the woods as a choker setter for a logging crew. Ed was a fireplug of a man, stronger than the next two combined, a valuable attribute in a logger. From his own accounting, he loved working in the woods, enjoying the bawdy good nature of a logging crew and spending his days outdoors. Ed settled down with first wife Dede Smith Morse, with whom he had three children: Sonya, Amber and Beau. The eruption of Mt St Helens in 1980 altered the course of many lives and impacted so many families, the Nugent’s among them. In the early 80’s, after having witnessed and survived the eruption on that terrible Sunday of May 18 1980, Ed also survived a nightmare of a logging accident when a haul back line broke free and “threw me a hundred feet up in the air and 200 feet down a mountain where I landed on a stump” as he put it. Medavac’d out in a basket strapped to a helicopter, he survived but was told he wouldn’t walk again. After three years of recovery, he did. Not only walk, but run and dance. And suffer unending pain that he endured all his subsequent days. During these years, Ed and Dede divorced and Ed had a brief second marriage to Lori Medlock-Sarysz. Together they had Ed’s fourth child, Brian.

Not being able to return to logging, Ed struck out on his own with three small kids in tow. He bought and ran a restaurant, The Caboose, in Naselle WA. He cooked crab and cleaned fish in the commercial markets in Ilwaco WA. He moved to Shelton WA in the 90’s and became an oysterman and clam farmer, where life was governed by the tides. This business was hard on his already battered body. In 1999, with the kids grown or gone, he moved back home to Kid Valley and began gentler work as a “blast survivor” tour guide for commercial bus tours of Mt St Helens and as the grounds keeper, general handyman and chief cook at Eco Park. Ed was also a star attraction at the periodic Logger Dinner Show there, throwing an axe with such accuracy that he would have audience members call out clock positions for him to hit on a massive cross cut, always hitting his mark. Then he’d cap the show by splitting an apple with an axe. All with one eye.

In July 1999, Ed met Cheryl DuBose, who reluctantly agreed to accompany her mother on a bus trip up the Spirit Lake Highway to Johnston Ridge Visitors Center. Ed was the blast survivor step on guide that day. Dressed in Carhartt jacket, cap, staubbed off double wall logger pants and carrying the shed antler of a Roosevelt elk, Ed was charming and funny, telling one tall tale after another as he pointed out sites along the highway. With several stops at observation points and visitor centers, Ed and Cheryl gravitated toward one another and in their own telling “fell in love at first sight”. Over dinner that night with his Mom, he declared that he’d met his future wife. After a beautiful courtship, on Dec 9, 2000, Ed and Cheryl married at the home of their dear friends, Yogi and Elaine Lowell. The next twenty two years of Ed’s life were spent working and supporting all that it takes to live a beautiful life focused on building gorgeous gardens and cooking scrumptious food for themselves, friends and family. While Cheryl’s career at Boeing flourished, Ed was the definition of the spouse that enables everything else. After Cheryl’s retirement, they moved to their brand new ‘forever home’ in Lacey WA. There they found a dream community of wonderful people with whom they were so enjoying sharing their retirement years.

Although he looked just like his Dad Jim, Ed had his mother Bev’s sweet, sweet soul. Ed’s love language was “acts of service”. And serve he did, always at the ready to volunteer — do, lift, help, support. If someone needed something, Ed was there. Cheryl joined the Community Loaves bread project in 2020, making and providing bread to food banks throughout Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Ed jumped in wholeheartedly — not baking — but tending to all the logistics of supply, delivery and packaging that ensures delicious top quality loaves get in the hands of hungry folks. It was a shared passion project that gave them purpose together during these last two years.

An intuitive empath, Ed knew that the love he put out in the world would boomerang back as good karma. Ed’s friend Gina wrote an essay from her heart on hearing of his passing. She perfectly captured Ed’s spirit writing in part:

When I heard the news, I felt as though a star had been snuffed out of the sky.  He was THAT guy. The guy who locked on to the horns of life with both hands and held on for dear life…

…He was a giver, a do-er, and a maker; always ready to lend a hand, coax a smile, or whip up a batch of soup.

He knew all the secrets of the forest and learned how to coax them from their hidey-holes. He understood the land and its promise. He sowed seeds, buried saplings, and harvested bushels of ‘maters, truckloads of mushrooms, and armloads of hugs. Nurture was his nature…

He didn’t have to use words, you just knew. Just as you knew he was “bigger than life.”

Just as you know, without him among us, he is still WITHIN us. That laugh, that spark. That Eddy.” 


And now this boy of the woods will be returned to the woods. Ed will be laid in for natural organic reduction by Recompose of Seattle. Ed’s wishes were that some of his composted remains be used to plant a Port Orford cedar as a memorial at a Celebration of Life in late July. The remainder will be donated to the Bells Mountain reforestation and salmon habitat rejuvenation effort in south Washington.

Ed is predeceased by his parents Robert James (Jim) Nugent and Beverly Lou Nugent (Umiker). He is survived by his four children, Sonya Nugent, Amber Nugent, Beau Nugent and Brian Nugent;  his three brothers, Bob (Lil), Al (Cathy) and Lynn (Janet); several grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins.

Donations in Ed’s memory can be made to the Community Loaves bread project that Ed supported with passion and pride, helping to feed the citizens of Thurston County. https://communityloaves.org/support-our-work/donate/




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