Longtime Fall City man, flood victim, dies

Fall City resident Frank Driscoll chaperones his granddaughter Katie
Fall City resident Frank Driscoll chaperones his granddaughter Katie's field trip. Driscoll, a Valley farmer who faced frequent flooding, died last month.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Fall City resident Frank Driscoll, 85, the head of the Fall City family airlifted to safety during the January flood, has died.

Driscoll, a resident of Fall City since the 1950s, died of cancer on Sunday, Feb. 8.

On his small farm, Driscoll raised cows, kept horses and sold eggs by the roadside.

"He always said this is God's country," granddaughter Kim May said. "It's the most wonderful place in the world."

Family members said Driscoll was proud of his land in Fall City, and worked to maintain it, in spite of the fact that his land was in harm's way during Valley floods.

"His John Deere tractor was on the new every time it flooded," May said.

In times of flood, people urged her grandfather to flee. But it's never easy to just pick up and leave, May said.

"You've got to turn power off. You've got cows to be rescued," she said. "It was his livelihood, and my grandma's livelihood."

Driscoll's wife, Thelma, said the the warning calls always seemed to come at night, "When you couldn't see to do anything."

Frank often stayed behind during floods, and was reluctant to leave his place behind.

"He said he could kind of read them," Thelma said. "He'd say, 'This one isn't going to be a bad one.'"

In the January flood, Driscoll's sense was off.

"He didn't think it was going to be that bad."

When water overtopped the highway, it gouged channels into the road, flooding lowlands near Fall City.

Three of the family cars were deluged and destroyed.

A rescue helicopter had to rescue Frank and Thelma, Kim May, her children, and their dog, a German Shepherd-pit bull mix named Cody.

They were swung up into the hovering aircraft by rope.

"I give those guys all the respect in the world for doing their job," Thelma said of her rescuers. "I wouldn't want to do it again."

Growing up with her extended family in Fall City, May remembers few times when it flooded. In contrast, her young children have already seen three floods growing up in the Valley.

"We had someone take us in for the night, and we'd be right back to the house the next morning, along with many friends from the community, helping us clean the property," she said.

"Everyone has been wonderful," May said. "This community is the best community to live in. The people are so wonderful to us."

May said Driscoll was upset that the Snoqualmie River was never dredged, and felt that Highway 202 had been built too high. In times of flood, the river would rise, top it and then tear through his property in a rush.

Each time the roadway was built up, "Grandpa always said they were putting a band-aid on it."

Driscoll had battled cancer for nearly a year. He quit chemotherapy last fall, saying he didn't want to end his days feeling sick from the treatment.

The flood made his health worse.

Driscoll lost about 30 pounds in the month following the disaster.

"He held on until he knew Grandma was going to be OK," with a place to live and family members to care for her, May said. She helped him feel like his property and family would be seen to.

Driscoll always meant for his property to become a wetland, a sanctuary for birds.

Currently, the family is on the waiting list of property owners considering the sale of their home to the government.

Frank is remembered by family members for treating every child that visited their home as an honorary grandchild.

"Granpa Frank was always happy taking the kids to school or picking them up, and he was so happy when he got to be a chaperone on a field trip," Granddaughter Kim May told the Record.

Driscoll turned trips to the garbage dump into fun family outings. He also loved going for lunch at Scott's Dairy Freeze in North Bend.

"Grandpa was so strong with his fight against cancer, but it finally got the best of him," May said.

The family was helped by Evergreen Hospice, and May said the family was lucky to receive caring and support from the organization.

Driscoll's survivors include four sisters, Loretta, Evelyn, Gert and Irene; a brother, Chuck; son Pat Driscoll of Whidbey Island, stepdaughter Christina (Doug) Steel; stepson-in-law Jerry Sorenson; grandchildren Justin and Katie May and Breanna and Brooke Steel.

Family members who preceded him in death included brother Edward Driscoll and stepdaughter Cheryl Sorenson.

At Driscoll's request, there was no service. Donations can be made in his name to the Evergreen Hospice Fund, 12910 Totem Lake Blvd. N.E., Suite 200, Kirkland, WA 98034.

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