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  #1  
Old 08-18-2010, 05:01 PM
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Craig Watjen

Don't know if you all saw it in today's Seattle Times, but Craig Watjen died. While Craig was not a Ferrari guy, he was an avid car guy whose work has enabled many to afford Ferraris.

Craig was the first treasurer/finance guy at Microsoft and helped Allen and Gates move up here to the Northwest. His work helped turn MSFT into a profitable powerhouse that would make so many employees and stockholders very weathly over the decades.

I met him in the Classic Car Club of America, where he was known for his collection of beautiful Fords and Lincolns (in a warehouse in between former MSFTers and F-car collectors Shirley and Whitten.) A true vertical collector, his cars were incredible and still of interest to people outside the blue oval faithful.

Although I didn't know him well, I connected with him every so often on a political viewpoint email list we shared. Craig respected rational, reasonable and logical debate.

To quote my father: "Another good guy and car guy gone."
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:38 PM
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My Garage
Thanks for the heads-up. I didn't know Craig except as the guy who happily and generously opened his collection for us when we came around to see his neighbor's collections, and as the guy who made it possible for an amazingly wonderful pipe organ at the Seattle symphony hall. So sorry hear of his passing. It's sad to lose another generous car guy who also enjoyed the fne arts.
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Old 08-19-2010, 02:22 AM
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Craig was a really great guy. Very down to earth with a keen sense of humor. He loved his cars more than most people realize and for the right reasons.
For example he never sold his cars, he kept them, like his first model A he bought when was 16 years old a car I believe he drove all the way out to Seattle from the East coast. He still has that Model A to this day sitting next to his 1965 Mustang convertible that he bought new when he was in college.
Craig was a very sentimental guy who even kept his dear mothers 4 door Cadillac sitting in his collection. Many of the other cars he owned for a ver very long time. He was my tenant for 9+ years and always a pleasure to deal with. My heart goes out to his wife Joan.

As mentioned in the previous post he was always willing to open his "Lincolnshire" museum when the other guys were having an open house. Craig enjoyed working on his cars and getting grease under his nails. Together with his Model A pals they would meet once or twice a week to put around with this and that. One of his latest projects was a V12 flathead Lincoln motor they were taking down and rebuilding. He knew his model A's and his old Lincoln's and was very pride full and in his element when explaining to a group of visitors.
As I had come to know him better over the last few years I couldn't help to think he was somewhat of a showman, at least he had a bit of theater in him, seeing the way he worked the crowd of visitors, always with a twinkle in his eye. I then learned about his love for music, his contribution to the village theater and his contribution to the Benaroya Hall and it all made sense.

Craig was a man of impeccable honor. I will never forget the day I met him. Jon Shirley had out grown his space due to the cars he was adding to his growing collection. He brought Craig over to meet me one day and wanted to know if it would be ok with me if he - Jon - could sublet to Craig, or how did I want to handle it. Jokingly I said I wanted Jon to stay on the lease in case Craig defaulted.
There was about 10 seconds of silence until a smile broke out on everyones faces.
I then proceeded to write a new lease and accepted one dollar as the security deposit.
It was something I learned from a story of old Joe Desimone who sold Boing field to Bill Boeing Jr for one dollar.
I asked Craig to sign the dollar bill which I still have in the file and will never spend.

Craig was the only tenant I ever had that actually read the 24 page lease and highlighted the areas he felt were a little strong. He put me through a zillion questions.
In the end we both threw up our arms and signed it knowing we trusted each other to do the right thing.

Sadly, I heard the news of Craig's passing last friday at Concorso Italiano. In a stroke of serendipity I was together with Jon and Mary Shirley and Greg Whitten, who of course have their collections next to Craig, and are Craig s friends from the Microsoft days. We were just hanging out at our stand when Mary received the sad news. We poured a glass of wine and toasted our fallen friend wishing him a heaven filled with Model A's and Lincoln's to play around with.

I will miss him, and I know a lot of you will too.
Frank Mandarano
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Old 08-19-2010, 09:19 AM
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I'll miss Craig not for his cars but for his mentoring and friendship...he was a true gentleman who's generosity was only outdone by his humility. If you were not a fan of his collection, take a moment the next time you are in Benaroya Hall to check out the Watjen Concert Organ...a true exotic by every measure.

- TCab
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Old 08-19-2010, 11:01 AM
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I went to his garage one time when Whitten had a garage tour. He just opened his collection up to everyone who was there. I didn't know who he was (up until now), but talked to him for a little bit about his cars. Really nice guy....
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Old 08-19-2010, 12:38 PM
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What a neat guy and a loss to the whole community. Several years ago I was standing with a group of guys looking at a car at an event and he was there and I remember enjoying listening to his comments on the car and the event in general. I didn't know who he was except that those in the group who knew him held him in high regard at the time.
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Old 08-20-2010, 09:59 PM
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Frank, thank you for your note. I too had visited with him on one of the occasions when all three neighbors opened up their collections to us. I never had the personal connection you did, but your comments were appreciated as it gives a glimpse of what a special character he was.
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  #8  
Old 08-25-2010, 10:59 AM
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Here attached is a really nice article about Craig and his cars.
FGM
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  #9  
Old 08-25-2010, 11:01 AM
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Please disregard my last post. I am trying to post a story that appeared in the Lincoln Club Newsletter and am having some problems.
Please stand by.
FGM
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  #10  
Old 08-25-2010, 11:04 AM
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OK lets try this.
FGM
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  #11  
Old 08-25-2010, 12:38 PM
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Thank you Frank,
This is a wonderful and loving tribute to your friend Craig. I appreciate your sharing the stories.

Regards,
Dave
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