Esteemed developer Ken Imus passes away at age 90

Ken Imus

By Stefanie Donahue

Ken Imus, the mastermind behind successful developments spanning all the way from Fairhaven to Blaine, passed away peacefully at home last Sunday, March 19 at age 90.

A Bellingham native, Imus built a strong reputation around town for his entrepreneurial spirit and diligent work ethic. He was the leading force behind the revitalization of Bellingham’s Fairhaven Historic District in the early 1970s and later went on to purchase and renovate a number of storefronts in Blaine’s downtown.

“He was energetic and wanted to do some good things in Blaine,” said city manager Dave Wilbrecht who worked with Imus in recent years to restore properties along Peace Portal Drive.

Imus graduated from Bellingham High School in 1944 and went on to study engineering. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy and later returned to Bellingham, where he opened an auto body shop and married Barbara Quinby, his high school sweetheart.

In 1949, Imus and his wife moved to San Jose, California, where he kicked off a career in auto sales and started a family. Up until 1997 when he and his family relocated back to Bellingham, Imus juggled ownership of multiple Ford dealerships in Texas.

Imus built the Black Forest Steak House building in Blaine.

His business experience sparked an interest in design and development that would later set the foundation for his effort to revitalize Bellingham’s Fairhaven Historic District in the early 1970s. Imus remodeled several of the vacant and historic buildings that line the cobbled streets of Fairhaven’s downtown.

In recent years, Imus aimed his focus at Blaine and in 2015 committed to constructing a new shopping and dining plaza at Peace Portal Drive and F Street. That same year, he announced plans to remodel the former Goff’s Department Store building on Peace Portal Drive.

Longtime friend and Blaine business owner Mike Hill remembers Imus as a positive, intelligent and unique force in town. Even when Imus was in his mid-80s, Hill said he dedicated weeks to clean up and restore his properties in Blaine, all on his own. It was his time to think, he said.

“If I had to say one thing about him, I’d say he was one of a kind,” Hill said fondly. “He was always thinking for the town.”

The Whatcom Hospice Foundation is accepting memorials at 2901 Squalicum Parkway in
Bellingham. A celebration of his life will take place at the Westford Funeral Home located at 1301 Broadway, Bellingham, at 11 a.m. on Monday, March 27. A reception will follow. Visit to share memories.

  1. But… As I understand it, Mr. Imus gave up on Blaine after the Blaine City Council reneged on it’s agreement. Mr. Imus and his son put all the undeveloped properties back on the market and pulled out of Blaine for good. Am I wrong?


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