Islands Sounder Letters to the Editor | Feb. 23

Remembering Natalie White

As there was only the briefest notice of Natalie’s death, I wish to salute her life.

As a child she lived with her Germanic grandmother in Missouri; as a teen, she moved to Seattle to be with her father at the Sorrento Hotel, which he owned. She was related to Wallace Berry, Hollywood character actor of the 20s to 50s. She attended the University of Washington, married twice and had four children. In the 1950s she saw a space ship over Seattle.

She was a woman of strong opinions. She was generous of her time and the products of her garden and orchard. She raised beautiful roses. She was never boring.

She taught at grade schools in California, Wyoming and at a small school in her home on Orcas Island. Her young students learned about Japan (and many other things) by each sewing a kimono, composing haiku and printing these poems on the paper they made, and forming them into a book, which won a prize at the San Juan County Fair. They prepared a Japanese feast for their parents. They learned about the natural world by caring for guinea pigs.

She taught English as a second language. One Christmas Eve we played Scrabble using only Spanish words (never too old to learn). But she kindly allowed me to use a Spanish/English dictionary.

Every day she fed her cats, the few remaining guinea pigs, and several raccoon families. Lately these raccoons have come here looking for her. I miss her, too.

Jean Dowling


Olsan replies

I am very appreciative for the story regarding my resignation from the Fire Commission, as well as its recap of the events of my years as a Commissioner. However, the accomplishments mentioned were not mine to claim, but ours – meaning the whole team at Orcas Island Fire and Rescue: the volunteers, Chiefs Gary Bennett and Mike Harris and their staff, members of the community on the Strategic Planning Committees and my fellow commissioners during my tenure: Linda Henry, Duff Andrews, John Erly, Bob Phalan, Clyde Duke and Jim Coffin. They have all contributed so much to the success of the department! To correct the front page “Fire Commissioner Olsan retires,” I have resigned from the Fire Commission, but not retired. I am still very active in my career in real estate on the island.

Harvey Olsan

Orcas Island

Thank you for donating to Griffin car fund

A big thank you! We have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support for the Jordan Griffin family and, as told in last week’s paper, delighted to announce that our goal of $9000 for Jordan’s car was surpassed by the generosity of many. It was my mistake not to have singled out one for special recognition. After reading of the drive, Suzann Vince contacted us to find out how much was remaining and, to my surprise and delight, offered to pay the balance. Then after a luncheon with Jordan’s grandmother, Barbara Griffin, she decided to increase her donation even more. She discovered there were so many other expenses, even more connected with getting the car.

I wish to share, with her permission, that Suzann decided to make this substantial gift in gratitude to her parents. Her parents had taught her by example to be generous. In appreciation of their attitude of giving she wished to use an inheritance from them to help in this way. It is a lovely gesture, most needed and very appreciated.

We each do what we can and give when we can. We, as a community, can thank Suzann for stepping up to the plate when we needed some heavy hitters to help get Jordan Griffin’s car. Thank you to Suzann. And thanks to everyone who is contributing – whether it is their time, their talent, their money, or being there when needed.

Caroline Buchanan

Orcas Island

Eastsound P.O. much cleaner

As a long time resident of Orcas I have seen many changes. I would like to send KUDOS to the Eastsound Post Office for the changes that I have seen within the last couple of months. For the first time in many years I find going into the Post Office a pleasure instead of a disappointment. These changes are due to the new cleaning service. On most days I am greeted with a smile and kind words from Sonya Hiltner, the new cleaning service, and the place looks and smells clean and refreshing. I no longer feel it necessary to bring my sanitary wipes with me.

I am sure I speak for the residences of Eastsound when I say, we are very pleased with these changes.

Keep up the good work.

B. Thorton


Correction to last week’s letter

We would like to make a correction to the letter written last week by Mairi Stagg of the local American Red Cross Disaster Assistance Team.

 For the last three years, the Senior Services Advisory Committee has allowed the Red Cross to store equipment and supplies in the basement of the Senior Center at no cost to them. This was at the time when we had been informed that the Senior Center could provide a temporary shelter should an island-wide disaster occur. Later, it was determined that the Senior Center would become a distribution center, instead, where people could come to be redirected to those shelters available to them.

The Advisory Committee finds that they need that extra space to carry out our mission to serve seniors and the rest of the community. This has necessitated asking the Red Cross to make other storage arrangements. This is not an issue of whether they can pay rent or not. We support the Red Cross in their efforts and would like to be able to continue to assist them, but it is no longer feasible to do so by providing storage space.

Magdalena Verhasselt

Chair, Orcas Senior Services

Advisory Committee

Thank you to Actors Theatre

Combining charity and suspense may not seem like a good idea but they certainly blended together well for the premiere performance of “Wait Until Dark” presented by The Actors Theater of Orcas Island. Kaleidoscope Preschool & Childcare Center was the recipient of all proceeds from ticket sales opening night. Through the support of Lopez Island Vineyards, Enzo’s and Ashlee Minnis, refreshments were provided during intermission. I would like to thank those mentioned above for making this event so successful and encourage everyone to attend an upcoming performance (Feb. 27, 28 and March 1). The talent that graces our local Grange stage should not be missed!

Amber Paulsen

Kaleidoscope Director

Odd Fellows raffle

We would like to thank all those who participated in our raffle for a trip to Hawaii. The money raised went into a student financial award fund to be distributed to two high school students at graduation time. The winner of the trip was Jim Biddick. Congratulations and once again thank you from the Odds.

The Odd Fellows of Orcas Island

Sally Bennett fund

Sally Bennett has been an Orcas Island resident for 30 years. Most of you know her from her various positions over the years: travel agent, Ray’s Pharmacy, Orcas Home Central, and West Beach Resort.

Sally has been battling cancer since mid-October; she has only been home twice since she began her treatments. It has come to the point where her treatment time is constant, and it is her strength that is keeping her going. She has some insurance but it does not begin to cover all the costs incurred, especially since she is staying with her good friend, Cheryl (formerly Brandt). Cheryl is doing all she can to get Sally to all of her treatments, with assistance from Mary (Ellis) Harrington.

Those of you who know Sally know her for her infectious laugh, her kindness, and her ability to remember everyone’s birthdays and anniversaries. Sally has never had children of her own but she never forgets to ask about our children by name, and, now, our grandchildren.

Many, many years ago we had a calendar produced by the Lions Club, which included everyone’s birthdays and anniversaries. As the Orcas population grew, the calendar was no longer feasible but Sally kept the last copy and added to it by hand.

An account has been set up at Islanders’ bank (The Sally Bennett Fund) to help defray some of the astronomical costs that are associated with treating her cancer. These are extremely difficult economical times for all of us, but if you can contribute anything to assist in making this time a little easier for her it would be great. Every little bit helps and that is what our community is all about.

There is a story that Sally does not like being repeated but it is such a good one. Sally had traveled to the mainland with several friends from Orcas and Friday Harbor (she had only been on Orcas a few months). On the trip home she was enjoying her newfound friends from Friday Harbor and did not get off at Orcas with the rest of us. The ferry had left Orcas for Friday Harbor and Sally’s ride into the village was looking for her. Then, we saw the ferry turn around and return to the Orcas ferry landing. Lo and behold, Sally walked off of the ferry while the Friday Harbor group stood on the outside decks, singing “Miss America.”

Sally had informed the captain that he “missed” her island and she had to get back there. The captain obliged (would that happen today?), returning to Orcas so she could return to “her” island.

Judi Resch

Orcas Island