Obituary of James Michael Traner
Jim Traner passed away on July 22nd while reeling in an enormous king salmon from his boat at Possession Point off the south tip of Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound. Jim was born June 6th, 1947, to Ronald and Elizabeth Traner, in Yakima. He was the eldest of three brothers – David (1948-2004) and Robert. He had a great childhood and spent much of his time up at the family cabin, near Cliffdell. The mountains were filled with opportunities to swim, float, hike and backpack – but especially to fish! When Jim wasn’t doing chores, working the orchards or hay fields, he was on the Naches River or at one of the many lakes, wetting his line.
After high school, Jim joined the Army. He served with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (Blackhorse), as a Specialist 5th class and served two tours in Vietnam. After his time in the service, Jim moved to Seattle, met and married Francy Lesenyie (1946-1997) and had two daughters, Carrie (son-in-law Tim, grandson Daniel) and Amy (son-in-law Sean, grandchildren Ashton and Avery). He shared his passions with his girls, spending nearly every vacation either fishing or backpacking and instilled in them his love of nature. Jim became a private pilot in 1984 and got his instrument rating the following year. He was eager to share his love of flying and gave his children the opportunity to become pilots as well.
Prior to, and after serving in the Army, Jim was a land surveyor and never missed an opportunity to point out an old survey location accompanied by a story. The GI bill sent Jim to Yakima Valley Community College and then to the University of Washington, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration (emphasis in accounting). After graduation, Jim settled into a 50-year career in public accounting, making partner at the national firm of Laventhol and Horwath. He later co-founded the Edmonds accounting firm Traner Smith & Co in 1994. Public accounting seemed a perfect fit for Jim as it allowed him to connect and serve the Edmonds community and beyond, where he built many long-lasting client relationships. Jim loved his work, his “work family” and serving his clients, many of whom remained with him for decades. In an effort to slow down and enjoy life, fishing and family, Jim sold his interest in Traner Smith to Kevin Smith and Shane Summer in early 2021. However, Jim remained active in Traner Smith, going into the office nearly every day.
In 1998, he married Terry Savaglio, and with her two boys, Jason (wife Diane) and Ethan (partner Alli), the family grew. They just celebrated their 25th anniversary in June. Together they cultivated a beautiful backyard sanctuary and often sat out on the deck enjoying a perfectly grilled meal prepared by Jim while listening to the peaceful sounds of the water.
Jim was an active member of the community. When his girls were little, he was their softball coach and on the Board of Directors for Mukilteo Little League (MLL). He was instrumental in acquiring the land and building the first MLL field, which has only grown since. He was also an active member of the Edmonds Rotary. However, his main passion was spending time with his “2nd family” at VFW Post 8870 in Edmonds. Taking care of veterans and honoring their service was Jim’s mission for over twenty years. He helped envision and build the Veteran’s Plaza in Edmonds, which was a place that brought him much comfort and peace, and he and many other family members who served have plaques there.
Jim will be missed by many. He was a source of strength and comfort to his family and friends and was always there when needed. His legacy of service will continue to live on through the people that he mentored and impacted along the way. He died doing what he loved, in typical Traner fashion.
Jim’s family welcomes all to celebrate his life and honor his military service. A Celebration of Life ceremony will be held on Sunday, August 20, at 12:00pm at the Edmonds Waterfront Center with a reception to follow. Jim will be honored with a military service at Tahoma National Cemetery on Tuesday, August 29 at 1:00pm.