”…and that’s how I lost my finger.” That’s the way David Duggins ends a tall tale of his encounter with a great white shark or other sea monster. Indeed, David has a mythical side to him. He appears as one of the characters in the novel “The Starship and the Canoe.” He has even spent days living underwater in the U.S. Hydrolab. For 35 years, David has been the go-to guy for scuba diving, specimen collecting, radiation safety, shop assistance, boat operation, and general questions on marine ecology. He spearheaded the Labs’ K–12 program. For this exemplary service, he was awarded the University’s Distinguished Staff Award in 2001.
Captain Duggins is currently the FHL Supervisor of Marine Operations in charge of vessel scheduling, budgets, and operation. David’s efforts have made the R/V Centennial an effective platform for specimen collection, underwater ROV surveys, and oceanographic research both in the San Juans and the outer coast of Washington. David has been able to dovetail his FHL responsibilities with an active research career. He is an authority on kelp bed ecology and has examined the impact of herbivory and competition on seaweeds. He has studied the effect of water currents on an array of organisms from kelp to worms and has investigated the fate of kelp detritus in the greater marine ecosystem. David and his wife, Dr. Megan Dethier, were caretakers of The Nature Conservancy’s Yellow Island Preserve for eight years. They’ve been major supporters of Spring Street International School, Friday Harbor Elementary School, and the Nature Institute.
When David retires it’s going to be hard to fill his Birkenstocks!
Craig: Ah… hello?
John Doe: This is John at the Labs. I know it’s early but I can’t get PowerPoint to work and I have a job interview tomorrow and need to leave on the red-eye…
Craig: I will be right in. Shall I bring you some food?
Craig: I thought you had to be on the red-eye.
John Doe: I had the day wrong.
Craig: No problem. Anything else I can help you with?
Apocryphal, perhaps, but we all know this sort of thing is standard operating procedure with Craig. At his core, Craig truly loves helping others, often sacrificing his own plans (and lunch) to drop everything in order to solve someone else’s problem. Yet, unlike the rest of us when asked to drop everything and switch gears, Craig is never, ever, grumpy or annoyed when asked to do things, which in many cases could have been accomplished without his help. Craig personifies the friendly, helpful, and highly competent attitude that makes FHL productive and supportive, and he does his job with grace and good cheer. This sort of care for the needs of others is a big reason why people want to return over and over again to FHL.
I believe that Craig has been at FHL longer than anyone else currently on staff, and his retirement will leave a huge hole. From his early days in the 1970s as a Research Assistant for Carl Nyblade and Ph.D. student under Ken Chew, Craig has had a passion and deep expertise in the systematics of amphipods. He is the “go-to-guy” for taxonomic issues in this important group of marine invertebrates. When hired as permanent staff in the early 1980s, Craig’s responsibilities were diverse, but over time, his efforts focused on running the R/V Nugget and acting as computer network guru. There may have been only one computer on the entire campus back then, but it was a big job to keep it running! His responsibilities have broadened over the years and now he does it all: computers, safety, boat work, and much more.
Enjoy a well deserved retirement, Craig, and know that you will be greatly missed. You and I now have smaller fish to fry.
“You’ll have to ask Vikky. She’ll be here at one o’clock.” “Just send Vikky a message. She’ll take care of you.”
These are familiar refrains heard in the FHL main office for many years. Vikky Dauciunas has fearlessly navigated one of the most difficult staff positions at FHL: Facilities Coordinator. If she makes a misstep, two classes could show up expecting to use the same classroom, or another guest could walk into your apartment as you’re getting settled. But this rarely, if ever, happens at FHL because of Vikky’s expertise, skills, and attention to detail.
Vikky has coordinated the hundreds of students, faculty, and researchers who visit FHL each year. She coordinates classroom and sea table use, housing, and laboratories. Summer months are especially hectic with as many as 60 people coming or going on the weekend between summer sessions, usually seamlessly. Many courses and conferences have benefited from Vikky’s organizational skills and willingness to go the extra mile.
Vikky moved to San Juan Island over 10 years ago from Silicon Valley. She and her husband Vince left the high-powered corporate world of Hewlett Packard and settled into island living. They adopted greyhounds and became active members of the Friday Harbor community. Vikky has been at FHL for nearly 10 years and is now retiring early. We will all be sad to see her leave. She will be pursuing the business she started several years ago, capturing personal histories. Her talents result in enjoyable stories that document a life well lived through video, audio, and photo books. Goodbye and best wishes, Vikky!