Credit Union Family Suffers Tragic Loss

Beloved Whatcom Educational Credit Union (WECU) Business Loan Officer Jim Langei, 43, and his wife, Sterling Taylor, 33, passed away as a result of a fire that swept through a Bellingham, Wash., marina on Friday, March 30.

Police said they received a 911 call indicating the couple was trapped. Langei and Taylor lived aboard their 42-foot boat, one of as many as 10 that were destroyed in the early-morning fire.

“The entire credit union family shares a sense of sadness,” said Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) CEO John Annaloro.

The page on the Bellingham Herald’s website where Langei’s obituary will be printed went live with the following information on April 6:

“Authorities on April 5, 2012, confirmed his death at the Bellingham marina. Full obituary will follow.”

Five days later, on April 11, 83 people had already left a comment on the page’s guest book, filling 17 online pages. The entries flow together to paint a moving picture, combining an outpouring of support for the Langei family with fond memories and kind words for Jim and Sterling from as far south as Texas and as far north as North Dakota. Every word underscores the deep sense of loss felt by everyone whose life Langei had touched.

It couldn’t be more clear that Jim Langei truly embodied the credit union philosophy of people helping people, and mentions of his ties to WECU were woven throughout the numerous tributes. One entry even came from a couple thanking Langei for his generous work:

“I wanted to share our experience we had with Jim. He was a special person to many but this is what he did for us. Jim was the ONLY banker that treated my 27 year old son Richard as a person with passion and vision for his future. Jim was right! He stood in his court for a loan and got it approved when nobody else would even listen. Jim, we will never forget that you were a caring human being. You will not be forgotten ever…..”

Just a handful of the many, many highlights:

Our thoughts and prayers are with you all during this difficult time. WECU will be missing another smiling face but heaven will be blessed.”

So loved, so friendly, so genuine, SO FUN, so missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families. Fond memories will carry us to our time together in some heavenly harbor, where we can rub fenders and share a hook.”

“Jim was a good man, and a good friend. The world is a little less bright without him.”

“Jim was a great friend, a free spirit. What a loss…but if anyone I could have said to have lived life well…it was Jim.”

“Kathy and Wayne. Words typically fail us at this point, but know that I am deeply saddened for your loss. I will miss Jimmy, he was a good man and a friend to me. I was touched to have known him for so long. Be blessed as you walk forward and know that we are praying for you.”

“I don’t have the words.”

WECU released the following statement:

James (Jim) Alan Langei

This March, WECU® and the heart of our credit union, the Langei family, suffered a terrible loss. Jim Langei and his wife Sterling Taylor were victims of a fire that destroyed a boat house and several large boats in Squalicum Harbor the morning of March 30th.  Jim, a loan officer in our Business Services department and Sterling, a former WECU® employee, were loved by many on staff and in our community.  Jim had a zest for life that was unparalleled and an incredible, contagious smile.  Our hearts are heavy with this loss and we send our love and prayers to their families and loved ones. 

Jim is survived by his parents Wayne and Kathy Langei, brothers Robert and Tom Langei along with their families, and his sons Spencer and Ian Langei (all residents of Bellingham). We will remember Jim as a care-free, ever helpful, adventurous father, husband and son whom will be dearly missed.

A joint “Celebration of Life” will be held for Jim and Sterling on Saturday April 14th from 5 – 9 pm at Windows on the Bay, adjacent to the Bellingham Yacht club. In lieu of flowers, you may contribute to United Way of Whatcom County, to which they were longtime supporters.


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