Nick Jerkovich spent his entire life in Gig Harbor, born to be a fisherman. Now, a bench across from the house in which he grew sits on Harborview Drive with a view of the boats.
It’s a scene Jerkovich took in many times. He was a fisherman until the day he died.
“The night we went to bed (before he died) ... he said, ‘I have to call my crew in the morning,’ ” said Pat Jerkovich, Nick’s widow.
The bench, on the sidewalk at Eddon Boat Park, marks 10 years since Nick died at age 76.
On Friday, the Jerkovich family — brothers, sisters, nieces, grandchildren and great-grandchildren — gathered around the bench on a foggy Northwest morning to pay tribute to Nick, their family man, and one of his boats, Pacific Knight. An iron model of the boat is on the bench, along with a plaque that honors Nick and his life in Gig Harbor.
The Jerkoviches are longtime Gig Harbor residents. It was Pat’s idea for a bench. As she attended an art fair, she found Brown Custom Ironworks of Quilcene and commissioned them to build one to remember her husband.
“He really went out of his way to make it,” Pat said of the iron worker.
The family toasted their beloved relative in Croatian, like he always did. Afterward, they returned to Nick’s childhood home, just across the street.
The house was built in 1926, and Nick moved into it in 1927. He lived there until he married Pat in 1950. Nick’s son, Nick Jerkovich Jr., lives there now.
The family shared turkey sandwiches and stories with Nick’s favorite view of his harbor just out the window.
Nick’s daughter, Nancy L. Jerkovich, said her father would have loved the dedication. Not because the bench bears his name, but because the family was all together.
“My dad, he was all about family,” Nancy said. “He would have been thrilled. He was a family man.”Reporter Karen Miller can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter, @gateway_karen.