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An enduring legacy

By COLLEEN ARMSTRONG
Islands Sounder Publisher, Editor
August 8, 2014 · Updated 9:24 AM
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One of the auction items is a painting by famed Canadian artist George Thomson, who was related to the Gibson family by marriage. Titled “Owen Sound,” it was painted in 1918. / Contributed photo

The treasures of one very large family are going up on the auction block at a fundraiser this August.

“An Orcas Family: 130 Years and Counting” will offer items from the related Orcas families of Donohue, Gibson, Ferris, and Koltun, which Jan Ferris Koltun has preserved.

The event is on Saturday, Aug. 30 from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Youngrens’ Barn. All proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Orcas Island Community Foundation as seed money for senior housing on Orcas.

“I have been thinking about it for years and it's one of the most needed services on the island,” Koltun said. “It could also be a major part of our economy … It is a very solid bet financially, plus there are all the social and humanitarian aspects of it.”

Koltun, who has a masters degree in public health with a focus on gerontology, says the aging population has stripped our ability to keep up with it.

“On Orcas, the fastest soaring population is in their 80s and 90s,” she said.

Koltun approached OICF about holding funds for a future senior housing project. She hopes the auction will raise $50,000. The next step for OICF is to grow the seed money and gather community consensus.

Koltun's dream is a campus with assisted living, co-living, a nursing home and a daycare center and housing for staff.

“The economy will prosper as we take care of the needs of all members of the community,” she said. “Orcas being Orcas, I know we can do this.”

Koltun is moving to the East Coast in September to be a full-time grandmother. She is keeping her home on Orcas and plans to return in a few years.

“This a piece of unfinished business – I didn't want to leave the island without doing this,” she said. “I like that the items can go for something useful instead of just sitting there. But I would like them to stay as close to the island as possible.”

There will be a silent and live auction with more than 100 objects that Koltun, along with her mother Virginia Gibson Ferris and great aunt Jean Gibson Donohue, have preserved through the years. The list includes: paintings by famed Canadian artist George Thomson (related by marriage to the Gibson family progenitor), works by many other Orcas artists, furniture from the Michael Donohue era including a multi-drawered cabinet, an armoire and a chocolate marble-topped table, two gold watches, one given by the Moran brothers to James Gibson in 1873, one given by Robert Moran to James Gibson in 1897 and treasures brought from around the world by Captain Harold Ferris.

A team of volunteer researchers has been checking each item, perusing old auction catalogs and hunting as far away as Nova Scotia to authenticate some items. All of the items come with valuation and proof of authenticity. The auction catalog will be available on Aug. 15, and it can be emailed by request at jansound@rockisland or call 376-3394.

Tax deductions are available if objects are donated to the Orcas Historical Museum or another nonprofit. Next day hand delivery is offered on Orcas for paid items not picked up by 11 p.m. on auction night. A proxy may be appointed for bidding.

Tickets for the event are $50 per person and include a picnic buffet by Christina Orchid, a hand-woven lavender wand and the chance to obtain a significant historical object. To reserve a ticket, mail a check (made out to Jan Koltun) to PO Box 77, Eastsound Wa. 98245 or call 376-3394.

 

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