By David Jepsen (first 50 years) and Dan Anderson (next 25 years)
The recap of our 75 years of service is being presented in two sections.The following begins the history of the first 50 years of the Kiwanis Club of Issaquah, as first printed in the Golden Anniversary Program 1929-1979, after which is our own Dan Anderson’s recollection of the most recent 25 years 1979-2004. Enjoy!
First 50 Years: 1929 - 1979
By David Jepson
When I volunteered at a Kiwanis meeting one year ago to write a history of the Issaquah Kiwanis Club, I had little idea of the size of the commitment I had taken on. Two factors turned my good-natured promise into a project of rather numbing proportions: the volumes of research material that would be available, and the endless continuation of heart warming, important and sometimes astonishing events that took place in the Issaquah Kiwanis Club.
When the club was organized August 15, 1929, the other clubs in Issaquah had to start sharing front-page space in the Issaquah Press. M.A. Boyden, a charter member, and later his son C.J., who together published and edited the Issaquah Press for 28 years, made this historical sketch possible. Hardly a week went by in 28 years that Kiwanis didn’t make the front page of the four-to six-page weekly.
By reading these articles, some of them lengthy, it became obvious that the history of the Issaquah Kiwanis Club was a history of Issaquah. Leon Kos, Don Anderson and I could hardly turn one of the yellowed newspaper pages without being amazed, amused and humbled by the historical events that were replaying before our eyes. Each one of them became dear to us and consequently, we said to ourselves, they must be included in this work. Of course, that was not possible. Too much happened.
Credit is also due to the long-time members of this club who are still alive. Chuck Fallstrom loaned his scrapbook from the year he was president in 1957. A.J. Peters and Fallstrom wrote a 16-page club history of their own and gave it to me. Conversations with them, Frank Castagno and others will, I hope, enable me to capture the “spirit” of the past, as Don Anderson puts it.
If names are missing from the following pages that you feel should have been included, I am sorry. Credit to everyone is impossible.
But the men who built this club that are not mentioned here will not care. They know that Kiwanis owes them nothing, and that Issaquah owes them nothing.
The greatest benefactors of 50 years of community service are the Kiwanians themselves. The birth of the Kiwanis Club was a rebirth of the men who formed it. They were born again to share love and serve in a way that sometimes bordered on Christ like.
Before August 1929, the economic condition of the country was healthy. The devastating depression that would hit very soon was impossible. Issaquah businessmen had it pretty good, growing business, good families, everything within their own lives well in order. But that was it; they didn’t look beyond the small spheres of their own existence.
Kiwanis changed that. The charter members of this club learned first hand that others didn’t have it so good. When Kiwanians went to the schools to provide milk and lunch and slickers for the patrol, they witnessed shortages of money, supplies and other educational tools. Members who worked with the county’s meager welfare program were undoubtedly horrified by the depravity of some county residents.
Kiwanis members enjoyed a new life of travel. Interclubs to Seattle, Snoqualmie, Enumclaw, Auburn, Renton and Vancouver B.C. provided travel and social opportunities not thought practical before on the states rather dubious highways.
Friendships were made, some that are together to this date. Business grew with business friendships. Everywhere you turn you see what Kiwanis did for the members as the members were doing for Issaquah.
So, please, do not feel slighted if a father, grandfather or friend was left out of this history. It is not meant to honor the handful who stand out over 50 years, but to every single last one of the men who wore the big K in Issaquah since August 15,1929.
They wouldn’t want it any other way.
American life seemed simple and without strife in early 1929. President Herbert Hoover, who campaigned for “an American Dream,” was finishing his first year of the only term he’d serve. Babe Ruth was hitting homeruns out of Yankee Stadium almost daily. Charles Lindberg was touring the country – ever popular not 15 months after he flew The Spirit of St. Louis across the Atlantic Ocean. And crossing the Atlantic in the other direction were 150,000 Europeans entering this country annually, they, too, looking for Hoover’s American Dream.
In Issaquah, political issues were mostly economic, and all were signs of prosperity. Debate over building the Mercer Island Bridge and expansion of what is now I-90 waged on. The county wanted to build a canal linking Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish so it might open to ferry and other water traffic. Also, the county asked to build a road around Lake Sammamish. Mayor John Fischer was calling for a new City Hall and Postmaster John H. Gibson was asking the Feds for money to expand mail routes. The business community was looking for ways to replace the business lost by the close of the many exhausted coalmines in Issaquah a few years earlier. Miners and their families who bought goods every payday had moved to other towns where the coal veins ran thick.
One year later Issaquah and the rest of the United States changed drastically – for the worse. On October 23, 1929, while Issaquah Kiwanians were planning their upcoming Charter banquet, the stock market crashed. Within days prices on the New York stock exchange fell in value about $26 billion and headed downward steadily for the next 18 months. Between 1929 and 1933 unemployment increased from less than five per cent of the nation’s work force to nearly 30 percent.
The farmer was hurt more than any other economic sector as farm commodity prices dropped at twice the rate of manufactured items and durable goods. Dairy, beef and wheat farms that had served the American farmer well during the last 100 years, were turned over to banks and other investors who had loaned the farmers money. Millions of Americans out of jobs became transients wandering the country looking for work.
Hoover had promised a “chicken in every pot,” but few were to be found. One southwest newspaper photographed a scrawny, hungry looking woman wearing an old ragged overcoat. In her hands was an even scrawnier chicken that had been dead for some time. “They promised me a chicken in the pot, and now I got mine,” the woman said.
On January 22, 1930 Kiwanis International was 15 years old. At that time there were 1,840 clubs and 102,000 members.
This is the America in which the Issaquah Kiwanis Club was born. Maybe it was meant to happen this way. Maybe it was a gift from above. And maybe it was just coincidence. But the Issaquah Kiwanis Club saved Issaquah a lot of grief during the great Depression. Food, clothing and financial assistance programs, which might not have been available otherwise, were run by Kiwanis and appreciated by the rural citizens who were hurt most by the economic chaos of the 1930s.
From birth to charter
How many dreams turn into reality? What is it that forces a dream from the hazy depths of the psyche and plops it coldly on the table of reality? Doing.
The dream of a Kiwanis Club in Issaquah could have been the dream of one or all of the 32 charter members. The dream could have belonged to F.L. Grimes, the first president, or J.R. Stephenson, the first vice president. A.J. Wold, the hardware dealer, could have been the man with the dream. No matter, because F.L. Grimes stirred up enough interest in forming a club that 40 men on June 11, 1929 made their way through the muddy sidewalk less streets of downtown Issaquah to the Black Pot Tavern. Waiting for them there was then District Lt. Governor Clint S. Harley. Harley had with him a petition, to be signed by Issaquanians as proof that interest in forming a club was genuine. This allowed the district to send for a Kiwanis International field representative, who then was in Hollywood, California.
On August 15 that field rep arrived and met with the club’s 32 members to be. The first meeting was uneventful in comparison to events that would take place for the next 50 years, but nevertheless, a club was born and its first officers elected (listed elsewhere in this publication). Before adjourning, members agreed to meet each Wednesday at noon.
A Rabbi drove 150 miles for the club’s next meeting, which was Wednesday, August 28, at the Horchover Cafe and Hotel. All the charter members, plus 18 from the University Kiwanis Club, attended. The University club was Issaquah’s sponsoring club. Until Issaquah could gather momentum, it relied heavily on their brothers from U town. As a matter of fact, the University club provided Issaquahs first 12 programs.
For the next eight weeks, the charter members scurried about in an effort to give the club more than a name. The first ladies’ night was September 11 at the Strafford Park on west Lake Sammamish, which now is Vasa Park. More than 50 Kiwanians and their wives dined and danced past midnight. Warren Butler, secretary of the Tacoma club, told members the value of a smile with public service. “Give a smile rather than a frown, a cheerful word rather than one of bitterness. Be sympathetic in sorrow and remember that there are hidden woes in every life and if there were no shadows, there would be no sunshine.” A week later another guest speaker said, “Men are too prone to quit, to give up activities, especially with regards to public work and service.” On November 13 the most “important event in the annals of Issaquah”took place. The Issaquah Kiwanis Club received its charter at a banquet at Grange Hall. “Covers were laid for 180,” some of whom traveled from California, Vancouver B.C. and all of Washington. The Issaquah club was presented flags; the American flag by an International trustee and the British flag by a district trustee from the Vancouver B.C. Club. The International trustee said, “The acceptance of this charter constitutes Issaquah as a full-fledged club, now sailing under their own flags and compass, and charting their own course. Up to this point they have been sponsored by the University Club; now they are on their own resources.”
It is fair to say that the Issaquah Kiwanis Club was primarily a social club for the first year of its existence. It took most of the charter members’ resources to organize social events, which were many. Nary a month went by that a ladies’ night with dinner and dance did not take place at the Strafford Park. High-powered interclubs were frequent also. Members and wives thought nothing of driving to Enumclaw, Renton, Tacoma, Seattle and Vancouver B.C. for an evening interclub. Banquets were held to honor the Issaquah High School football team, boy scouts, girl scouts and schoolteachers. The weekly meetings at the Horchover were also time consuming. Lining up guest speakers, many of whom had to drive long distances, was a chore. Club committees, such as agriculture, youth and church (all required by Kiwanis International) took time to get rolling.
Also preventing the development of service projects in 1929 and ’30 was that Issaquah sponsored the Snoqualmie Kiwanis Club when it was chartered on March 12, 1930. Issaquah, just a pup itself, guided Snoqualmie by providing programs, organizing elections and committees, and educating the Snoqualmieites about Kiwanis International. The club was not without service projects, however. Boy Scouting was the club’s first interest. Besides the periodic banquets, the club stepped up its scout support when it was asked by the scouts for $180, no drop in the bucket. The club pledged the money, but it took almost six months to raise. Scouting and Kiwanis have been partners ever since, and in 1979, the club still supports a scout group.
The same relationship can be drawn between Kiwanis and the school patrol. In October 1932, Kiwanis raised the money to provide slickers and caps for the patrol boys, which were presented at a dinner in their honor. School patrol has been supported partially by Kiwanis ever since, and since 1970, the club has paid for a day of fun at Seattle Center for what is now a rather large contingent of patrol boys and girls.
But the depression, which by 1932 had hit full force, would not allow the charter members to sit on their social duffers. There were hungry mouths to feed, children to clothe and unemployed men to put to work. The Great Depression made this club, forced it to vitality. The Issaquah Kiwanis Club was the food basket of the valley. Dr. Dana Hillery, who joined Kiwanis in 1933 and was Issaquahs number-one doctor until he retired in 1975, exemplified the sacrifices of club members during the Depression. He provided medical services in return for a chicken or half dozen eggs. When school started every year Hillery immunized first-grade students, free of charge. Hillery was on call seven days a week. No one was turned away.
A.J. Peters, banker and charter member, would loan money on a handshake. Many a business in Issaquah would have gone bankrupt during the Depression if it hadn’t been for Peters. It mattered not that most of the borrowers already owed the bank money, for Peters believed that a loss of a business was a loss to Issaquah. To tabulate just how much money Peters loaned during the Depression would require an extensive research project. One thing is known. More money was loaned than was paid back. When Peters left the banking business some years later, he paid out of his own pocket the still outstanding loans hed made on a handshake.
But Hillery and Peters were not alone during the breadbasket years. The entire club would work all during the night preparing food baskets each Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here, some credit goes to the club leaders. J.R. Stephenson and A.L. Wold could organize a work party with vigor of military leaders. They also led the drive that provided hot lunches and fresh milk in the schools.
Little bit of craziness
All work and no play makes for very boring history, and there was nothing boring about an Issaquah Kiwanis Club meeting. Craziness is the best word for some of the club’s programs, which took some of the sting out of the depression. Here are a few examples.
At an evening dinner in April 1930, the members were like kids, playing pranks on each other, jumping on tables and generally having a good time. A note in the newspaper the next day said, “The high jinks staged by the Issaquah Kiwanis Club last evening was about the foolishest foolishness yet attempted by that august body.”
In November 1930, members must have gotten a big laugh out of this short gem from a guest speaker. “As a man eatest, so is he; if your diet is of meat, you become beefy; if your diet is fish you become slimy; if your diet is nuts you become nutty; but if your diet is milk and eggs you become healthy and cocky and crow all over the world.”
In December 1932, A.J. Peters organized a debate, which would forever answer the all-important, earth-shaking question: Is the pig more beneficial to humanity than the hen? The blue ribbon went to the hen.
Amos and Andy, the nationally syndicated radio program in the 1930s, was the victim of Kiwanis buffoonery in January 1933. Two members hooked up a loudspeaker in the White Swan Restaurant, wired to a microphone on the restaurant’s second floor. From up there two members replayed their own version of Amos and Andy, “to the delight of everyone present.”
Members would break, without a second thought, unbreakable Kiwanis traditions. The epitome of this occurred in June 1934, when the club made Mrs. Minnie Schomber, still living in Issaquah, an honorary member as a “thank you” for providing musical programs since the club had been formed.
If this didn’t raise Kiwanis International eyebrows, nothing would.
At Beaver Lake, a favorite outing, Clint Brady storeowner, married John Fischer former mayor, in a mock marriage in January 1935. Brady in a tux and Fischer in white gown were walked to the altar, ready to burst with laughter. Lee Hepler, a car dealer, conducted the ceremony and Ted Kinnune was the ring bearer. The marriage would never work, said most of the fifty who attended.
And the guys would sing. And they would sing. There is probably nothing those gents like more. Many times, especially when guest speakers failed to show, the 32 hearty souls would sing for the entire meeting, rattling the walls and dinner plates. Old Kiwanis tunes like “We Build,” “Onward in Kiwanis,” “We Come a Band of Brothers,” and “Onward Christian Soldiers” were pounded out on the piano by Mrs. Schomber or Frances Crelly.
Not all the programs were this lively; some were informative. The quality of the programs is reflected in the club’s attendance records. Attendance averaged about 90 percent from 1929 to 1933, and in 1934 the club had 10 consecutive months of perfect attendance. Programs on agriculture, business, taxes and music were frequent. Quite often, guest speakers failed to show, so members filled the gaps. They would speak about the problems in their own lives, or tell what Kiwanis meant to them. Articles printed in the International Kiwanis magazine were discussed. Travel fascinated the club. Anyone who traveled any farther than Montana was asked to speak. Immigrants from Europe, Japan, China and Russia were very popular programs.
On November 10, 1932 the news hit national papers, Franklin D. Roosevelt swept the presidential election, ousting Hoover, 264 electoral votes to 82. Democrats also swept most elections in the House and Senate and on that day, Issaquah Kiwanis listened to a guest speaker from Germany. The Immigrant spoke of the depression there, caused by World War I, but that things were getting better with a new leader — Adolf Hitler.
Kiwanis and politics
The rise of the Issaquah Kiwanian meant the rise of the Issaquah businessman, thus constituting a viable political force. Unlike the Kiwanis clubs of today, clubs in the ’30s and ’40s spoke out. Public Affairs and Business Standards were two early committees, and with a publicity committee to get the word out. Members were fined $1 if they didn’t register to vote. In April 1932, Andy Wold was quoted to have said, “We need to run government from the top on down with less money.” C.W. Peterson and W.W. Pickering created a taxpayers’ association calling for reapportionment of the tax structure. The Mercer Island Bridge project received public support at a June ’38 meeting. When the club was two months old it petitioned Postmaster John H. Gibson, a charter member, for an improved mail schedule. In March 1930 headlines read: “Postmaster adds mail routes.” And with little disagreement the club voiced support for school levies and bonds whenever there was one on the ballot.
One public issue caused dissension among members, developing the playfield. The privately owned field that is now Memorial Field was rundown, and the owner was behind on the taxes. Rem Castagno, a member, led the fight to save the field, while Ted Kinnune was forced the play the bad guy. It was his bank that had the note on the property. The club had procrastinated taking a stand on the issue, and on December 28, 1932, charter member George M. Clark told the club just what he thought of that shirk of responsibility. Not long after that, the club supported saving the playfield.
Clark made his plea for the playfield at the installation banquet of President Walter E. Biles. His speech was an assessment of the clubs first three years. After complimenting the club, he was a little hard on the guys.
He praised them for maintaining membership in the face of the depression and members moving away (A.J. Peters to Seattle) and business conflicts among the members.
Interclubs, ladies’ nights and other banquets were frequent, and wonderful fellowships with neighboring towns had been made, he said. Club service projects such as patrol boys, scouts, welfare assistance and school faculty support were progressing well.
Then he accused the club of “errors of omission.” It failed to support the playfield, which Clark said was vital to the beauty and healthy growth of the city. The club lacked definite, concrete objectives and attempted programs too broad for such a young club.
The club might have taken on a little bit more than it could chew, but it did pretty well, thank you. And it was making a reputation for itself as a doer.
In January 1934, the Issaquah, South Tacoma and Puyallup clubs were honored as the most outstanding in the district. The University Club, obviously proud of its little brother across Lake Washington, honored Issaquah as the most outstanding club in the district for community purpose. Also, individual Kiwanians were making names for themselves, highlighted by the election of A.L. Wold to District Lieutenant Governor, the club’s first.
Even the International boys in Chicago had something to say about Issaquah. They listed 20 Kiwanis Clubs, from the 1,862 in the world, whose names were most difficult to pronounce. Three from this area made the list, Snoqualmie, Enumclaw and, you guessed it, Issaquah.
The Forties and the War
By 1940 new faces could be found among the old timers, most notably the Castagno brothers. The younger brothers of Rem, a charter member, joined the gang. They were Frank and Merv, both doers. The Castagnos owned Issaquah-Renton Auto Freight, and it was one of that company’s trucks that hauled members and their wives to interclubs, picnics and fishing trips. Fifty men and women piled in the back of a one-ton truck, drinking, singing and joking all the way.
The old service projects were still there, but some new ones were added, namely the Issaquah Labor Day celebration and parade, a two-day event that involved the entire town. Kiwanis was the backbone of the event for more than 30 years, which included a parade float of its own. Plus, the club sponsored a Labor Day Queen.
In recent memoirs Chuck Fallstrom, a member, recounts the 1952 Labor Day Parade. In 1952 during Bert Dahl’s presidency, the club built a beautiful float with a tall center post gaily decorated with blue and white bunting. The theme, “A Tower of Community Service by Kiwanis.” The problem was that the designers forgot to measure the height of the telephone and electric cables crossing the streets. The float caught the crossing cable and the Kiwanis tower fell. The float finished looking more like a wounded duck than a tower of strength.
World War II played a big part in Kiwanis programs. The drive for Savings Bonds never ended and the Issaquah Press provided a weekly tabulation of how much money Issaquah raised. For three years the club earned the distinction of 100 percent contribution from its members.
The Great Scrap Metal Drive in September 1942 was probably the club’s biggest war effort. More than 150 tons of metal were collected in less than 24 hours. The club was so organized that it managed to convince almost every merchant in town to close their doors for a day so that they could help in the collection. Teachers dismissed students from class so they could also help. Lee Hepler, Hans Forester, the Castagnos, Dana Hillery and “Doc” Anderson, and others were the leaders. The scrap was hauled in Issaquah-Renton Freight trucks. Scrap metal drives were taking place all over the country including the Northwest, but Issaquah’s was so impressive that the Seattle Times wrote about them.
One sad note: On February 20, 1945, John H. Gibson, charter member, past president, mayor of Issaquah and Issaquah postmaster for 35 years dropped dead in a place that he’d spent hundreds of hours over the previous 15 years – at an Issaquah Kiwanis meeting. He was 81. Not enough can be said about Gibson, who gave more than 50 years of his life to Issaquah. Andy Wold said it best. He called Gibson, “the youngest old man I’ve ever known.”
Post war activities
Between 1940 and 1960 the club was cooking with activity. A benefit dance raised $173 for rain parkas for the Issaquah High School football team. Another dance raised money for the March of Dimes campaign. They raised $1,085 for repairs and painting of the Community Church. They printed warning signs and slow signs near the school. A little league baseball team had new uniforms thanks to Kiwanis. A clothing bank was established for the “war salvage drive.”
A $100 scholarship was awarded to the most outstanding high school student who planned on entering a school of agriculture. A “Chinese Auction” and a “Kangaroo Kourt” were held to raise money for the Memorial Stadium Fund, which resulted in the building of the blockhouse and bleachers at Memorial Field. That blockhouse will soon be the Issaquah Senior Citizens Center. Banquets for the schoolteachers and the football players and their dads were held religiously every year. A Halloween party was also sponsored by Kiwanis.
A club favorite was bringing Santa Claus to town, usually in the disguise of Bill Bergsma, a member. More than 200 youngsters could be counted on to show up, and Kiwanis had a present and a handful of candy for each of them. The town Christmas tree was put up and decorated by Kiwanis. Members Clifford Johnson, not to be confused with Clifton Johnson, Andy Wold and others were the Issaquah Library Committee. On February 14, 1946, the library opened, the first in Issaquah. The newspaper said, “the library was made a reality by the energetic action of the Kiwanis Club.”
Another energetic work party involved cleaning and painting the old Firemen’s Hall in 1947. It had sat unused for several years, neglected. Kiwanians spruced it up so that the Boy Scouts would have a meeting place. Jo Jo Juniors, a club of youths between 9 and 12, was sponsored by Kiwanis.
Money for all these projects was raised in many ways, but the most outrageous was “Kiwanis Follies,” a variety show held at the high school in the late 1940s and early 50s. The show was produced, directed and performed by members and their wives. The wives, who did a great deal of work for banquets and interclubs, get a lot of credit for the Follies show. Painting sets, sewing costumes and making absolute fools of themselves on stage came second nature. Skits, dance routines, singing and magic acts were all part of the fun. Richard Erickson, Allan Peterson, and Clifford Johnson led the way.
Gibson Hall and the heavyweight challenger
A place to meet had always been a pain in the posterior for the club. The first meeting place was in a large closet at the Horchover Hotel and Cafe, whose owner was a charter member. That was too small so the club held meetings at the White Swan Restaurant on the old Sunset Highway east of town. The Masonic and Grange halls and the Community Church and Fasano’s Restaurant were used as meeting places also. Usually, the meals were prepared by the ladies who were caretaking whatever building they were using at the time. Later, meetings were held at the Skysport Restaurant, which sat on land that is now the Skysports airfield. It was here that the idea of a Kiwanis Hall was born, recalls Chuck Fallstrom.
One footnote: The club met Wednesday at noon for the first few years of its existence, but switched to Tuesday nights for almost 40 years. The club has now returned to meeting noon Wednesdays.
Kiwanis was involved with the building of Gibson Hall from the beginning, but its hold was no stronger than the other service clubs and church groups in town, all of which provided volunteers to do the building in 1949. The Castagnos, Lee Hepler, Harold Stonebridge, Steve Somsak, Bill Bergsma, Ted Erickson, A.I. Garner, Einar Mattila, and Ted Stonebridge were some of the Kiwanians who helped build the log clubhouse.
By late spring of ’49, work on the clubhouse had slowed to a standstill. Other than a handful of Kiwanians, most of the volunteers lost interest in the project. Funds were low for completing the building, which by this time appeared to be headed nowhere. More than $2,000 was needed to get the project going. The discussion at a club meeting to provide the money went something like this. Mike Shane, a member, is discussing what the proposal is. While he’s talking, another member quietly circulates some bank notes. Before Shane could finish his short pitch to save the clubhouse, $2,500 worth of notes had been signed by the members. Kiwanis hasn’t let go of Gibson Hall since.
In 1954 at the club’s 25th anniversary banquet, the sly Kiwanians burned the Gibson Hall mortgage. A note on the name: John H. Gibson, whose Issaquah exploits have already been detailed, received the honor of having the hall named after him. J.R. Stephenson chose that name in a name-the-town-hall contest. The prize was a new wristwatch, which Stephenson didn’t want and asked that the money be used for youth activities.
Gibson Hall was the heaven the Kiwanians were looking for and they met there (except for a few months when they didn’t have a cook) from 1949 to 1975, when they moved to the Holiday Inn, the present meeting place. While at Gibson Hall, the members ate delicious, meals prepared for eight years by Laura Castle.
In 1957 the club entered the world of professional boxing. It sponsored the training camp for a professional fighter, Pete Rademacher, the 1956 gold medallist in the heavyweight division of the Olympic boxing competition. Jack Hurley, Seattle boxing promoter put together the fight that would be the only one of its kind in professional boxing history. Rademacher, in his first pro fight, was matched against Floyd Patterson, undefeated heavyweight champion and the most awesome fighter in the heavyweight division.
August 5, 1957, was officially declared Pete Rademacher Day in Issaquah. Crowds were always found watching the young heavyweight challenger training at Memorial Field. Build up for the fight never ended. Rademacher was a heavy underdog but he could punch and had good ring sense for such a young fighter.
The bout was held at Sicks Stadium in Seattle. Many Kiwanians watched in amazement as Rademacher floored the champion in the second round. The surprise on their faces turned to anguish after Patterson picked himself off the canvas and beat the devil out of Rademacher. By round six, Rademacher had been on his backside seven times and the referee kindly stopped the fight.
The 1960s were winding down years. This is not to say that the Kiwanians weren’t active because the guys worked hard as usual. Let’s just say fewer men did more work. Some of the old projects were still going, like Labor Day Parade, annual Santa Claus visit, the pancake breakfast that supported little league, and the Halloween party. Kiwanis sponsored a Babe Ruth baseball team that won the league championship in 1968.
Sad note: Dee Sherrill, a very active Kiwanian who managed the Seattle-First National Bank, died April 13, 1965 from injuries received in a fire a month earlier. Dee was stripping paint from his bathroom walls with some sort of flammable liquid. A light bulb dangling from a cord plugged into the ceiling fell and ignited the liquid, splashing the burning death all over Dee.
In 1968, Issaquah Kiwanis had its first district governor candidate. Earl Robertson, a transfer from the West Seattle Club, ran for the post, but lost. He tried again in 1972 with better success.
In 1968 the Issaquah community had its last Labor Day parade, which for the last two years had been reduced from a two-day to a one-day celebration. Kiwanis had little to do with it in those years. As Frank Castagno put it: “We were tired. We had been doing it for 30 years and we were tired of not seeing our friends over the holidays.” Other community groups tried to pick up the slack, but could muster little effort without the workhorse Kiwanians.
In 1969 there was no Labor Day celebration for the first time in more than 30 years. In 1970, Salmon Days was born, including the Kiwanis Salmon Bake at Gibson Hall. The Chamber of Commerce gets credit for the idea but most Chamber board members were Kiwanians.
Also gone was the annual teachers’ banquet. The last one was in 1957. The school faculty had become too large for what was now a dwindling membership. Santa Claus stopped coming to town after 1970. The project that had been run by Kiwanis for 11 years was taken over a few years later by the Chamber of Commerce.
Little research material is available on the 1970s. It’s almost as if service club news lost its appeal to the newspapers. Fewer and fewer articles appeared, and seldom were they on the front page. The Chamber and Jaycees received most of the ink. Jaycees do this, Jaycees do that. Seldom was the big K found in The Press. Then, one week, there it was. Kiwanis made front-page headlines. But alas, it was the ultimate insult: “Kiwanians hear about Jaycees”
Participation in the club dropped to an all time low by the mid 1970s. Sometimes, fewer than five members were attending the weekly meetings. Allegedly the board briefly entertained a motion to disband the club, participation had dropped so low. But the club veterans wouldn’t hear of that.
Of course, the club put itself back on its feet. In 1979, the Issaquah Kiwanis Club is as active as ever. A detailed account of current projects and activities can be found elsewhere in this publication. We can say that the club received honorable mention from Kiwanis International for outstanding service projects in 1978.
Credit for bringing the club back around to its present status goes to many members, so no attempt here will be made to name them. But the energy and enthusiasm that keeps the club going, and the energy and enthusiasm needed to maintain that momentum for another 50 years, can be drawn from one source: History. The History of the Issaquah Kiwanis Club is now Tradition, embedded deeply by the many hundreds of men and women who for the last 50 years believed public service was really self service. That by helping others we help ourselves. That by trying to make a better community we become better human beings. A woman at a club banquet said once that it was the wife’s role to make a better Kiwanian of her husband. We’ll take that one step further. It’s a Kiwanian’s job to become a better human being. As Charlie Walker, 1930 district governor, said: “What manner of man is he who can live up to the objectives of Kiwanis?”
Next 25 Years: 1979 - 2004
by Dan Anderson
As eloquently described in David Jepsen’s 50 Years of Service: History of Issaquah Kiwanis published in 1979 on the occasion of our 50th anniversary celebration, the history and achievements of Issaquah have in very large measure been those of lssaquah Kiwanis! The library system, mail delivery, development of the school district, hot meals and milk for school kids, Memorial Field, CEI, the first Boy Scout sponsorship, Gibson Hall, Salmon Days, for example, were sparked and executed by Issaquah Kiwanis. The only civic organization with real effectiveness for several decades was Kiwanis. And, in short, it should be noted that this parallel continues as evidenced by the fact that our large active membership of movers and shakers constitutes a Who’s Who of Issaquah, including, for example, school board members and School District administration, business leaders, city administration including City Council members, ex-mayor, City Administrator, and leaders in the dental, medical, legal/judicial professions, and managers of our fire and police services.
What follows here is intended as a summary of events of significance in our third quarter century preceded by a dramatic and pertinent series of events in the mid ’70s. The mid ’70s was definitely a period of severe doldrums for the club. Some thought was given to forfeiting our charter. There were some occasional social events such as “spaghetti feeds” organized by Frank and Bonnie Castagno, and the club turned out to work hard for the Salmon Days bake so that we did maintain a budget for our service commitments; but club meetings were somber and without singing and often attended by only 5 or 6 members.
Then, with that background, the drama began in 1977 and 1978. Leon Kos, Vern Dwight, and David Jepsen joined the club and Leon, particularly, recruited tens of great new members. Dan Anderson, 1978-79 president, brought “Hail Kiwanis” to the club and encouraged vigorous singing of the American and Canadian anthems. Frequent interclubbing and sponsoring of other clubs occurred. Birthdays were celebrated with festive candles. Later, when Bill Klein rejoined the club, a double quartet of barbershop singers was formed under his direction; and countless performances were given by them at other clubs, nursing homes, hospitals, and for private parties throughout the region making our club famous as “the singers club.”
One further event makes up the dramatic prelude to our third quarter century; Leon Kos and Vern Dwight “invented” the strange, then, concept of an auction for a fundraiser. Many thought it was hare-brained, and so we added, at Frank Castagno’s urging, a free wine tasting event to assure a decent attendance. Members worked hard to obtain auction items, the attendance was good, and the project was financially a moderate success and socially a great party.
With this group of events coupled with 1979 Golden Anniversary enthusiasm, club membership, attendance, and spirit soared; and the club became and has continued to be one of the most important and honored service clubs in the region.
So with that prelude, the third quarter century of service began with Dan Anderson (1978-79) and Leon Kos (1979-80) as the beginning presidents receiving the Kiwanis Diamond Award for recognition as the District’s Outstanding Club in 1979. In 1979 our high school scholarship program was initiated with Bill Kinnish chairing the project. Four $1,000 awards were given to recognize scholarship and service; and the program continues. Leon Kos was president and caused the sponsoring of a second Issaquah Kiwanis Club, the Issaquah Valley Kiwanis morning club. We had already sponsored the Snoqualmie Valley club, and, in subsequent years, we sponsored or cosponsored Providence Point, Sammamish, and Newcastle clubs. Altogether our clubs make up a major portion of our Eastside Kiwanis division and constitute a very important service network.
In 1980-81, Ernie Smith’s first of two presidencies, our budget for service to the community had grown to over $12,000! At about the same time, John Williams decided to create a sheltered workshop for handicapped people; and as a Kiwanis project, the old laundry building off East Sunset was renovated, repaired, and converted into what very successfully became CEI (and now AtWork) and is renowned through the region for providing opportunities of learning, training, independence, and livelihood-earning to its countless clients. In those same days our Board meetings were held at the Foothills Restaurant, which was owned by Board member, Bob Wells. The Foothills was later renovated into The Roost and is now Pogacha.
It has been observed that as our club grew in membership and in its fundraising budget, it changed and became somewhat less of a hands-on service club to one that tended more to earn money and then provide financial assistance to needful people and projects. If true, this probably parallels similar changes in the country and in our region. Issaquah was changing from a small, hemmed-in town without freeway connections, where most of the people were involved with most of the other people and the town was where we spent most or all of our time and energy, to a large, metro-connected bedroom community where a majority of residents spent most of their time elsewhere.
A striking example, however, of continuing hands-on experience for the club was the Jim Busch bicycle repair project. For years the club collected a large number of donated bicycles, most of which were sadly in need of repair and parts. Jim repaired, rebuilt, and polished them into fine working order. The club then distributed them to needful kids who would not otherwise be able to own a bike.
Interclubbing with other clubs in the region has been a dominant activity for the club, and an interesting Round Robin of interclubs throughout King County was achieved in 1979 for the purpose of raising pledges for Home Health Care in return for Dan Anderson running the Greek Marathon. This Round Robin netted over $3,000.
Other interclubs with international aspects were a trio of trips to British Columbia. In the first we were invited by the Campbell River Club to fly up for a salmon fishing and BBQ meeting with them. Bob Wells, Dan Danielson, Kyle Anderson and others provided a fleet of small planes, and we caravanned there for a great event that created some good friendships between the clubs’ members.
In a subsequent year we did a joint interclub with the Seattle Industrial Kiwanis Club to go to Harrison Hot Springs for a weekend of meetings and social events. Earl Robertson, our Past Pacific Northwest District Governor, provided our transportation in his large RV. The clubs were expected to provide evening entertainment and the Issakiwanian Players performed the classic “Little Nell” It brought the house down. The audience stood and stomped and insisted that the players repeat the entire play! Credits: Little Nell was big Bob Davey, Lloyd Bourdon was the villain, Dave Kingery was the father and Leon Kos played the sheriff.
In 1981-82 Lloyd Bourdon was president and was starring in Village Theatre’s “Sound of Music.” The club bought the house one evening and after a cocktail reception hosted by Bob Catterall at his Eastside Realty offices, the theatre was filled with Kiwanians and their friends. At about that time, the club began its long term and continuing sponsorship of Village Theatre’s Kidstage program wherein kids up to college age write, produce, and perform musical plays. The youthful cast and support staff also design and build their own sets and learn the importance of working together in the synergy of creating a musical show. The club’s service budget rose to over $14,000 that year, and Leon Kos was the Division’s Lt. Governor.
The following year’s president (1982-83) was John Whitaker, now a Life Member and Director Emeritus, and the budget increased to over $16,000. John was followed by President Bob Davey in 1983-84, and there were 73 members in the club. The club supported the Food Bank and the renovation of the historic Train Depot that year, and also approved of having the incoming 1st and 2nd Vice Presidents co-chair the Salmon Days BBQ fundraiser.
In the following Dave Kingery year (1984-85), our budget again increased with improved efforts in the Salmon Days BBQ and annual Auction, to $20,000. The first Key Club was sponsored and organized at Issaquah High School and one at Liberty soon followed it.
During the Don McGinnis year of 1985-86, history was made! Jerry Bushnell and Pete Jarvis successfully moved the club to actively support the Kiwanis International position regarding women membership, and local women, including Linda Ruehle, were soon recruited. When Linda was officially inducted in 1987, she was immediately a very active and effective member and was soon nominated into the chairs and became our (and one of International’s) first woman president. Other early women members (not forgetting the honorary Minnie Schomber in 1934) were Shelly Moffat, Karen Taylor Sherman, and Ruth-Marie Fesler.
With our growing service budget, it was and is difficult to grasp the scope and number of recipients of Kiwanis assistance. For example, in Jerry Bushnell’s year (1986-87), just a partial list included scholarships, Business Week Camp, Boy Scouts, School Patrol, Special Olympics, Head Start, flags put up on holidays, Self Help Hard of Hearing, LBI Scholarships, Rainbow Lodge, Camp Sambica, Jewish Family Services, CEI, Christmas Baskets, Seniors transportation (van insurance), Historical Society, Food Bank, Volunteer Bureau, Cedar Hills Alcohol Treatment Center, etc.
In 1987-88 when Wayne Price was president, our service budget increased again to $22,000, and our membership, with 16 women, increased to 83.
Walt Cassidy was president in 1988-89 and Salmon Days income increased another $1,000. Another fundraiser ($2,900) was the building of an elaborate playhouse patterned after the Alexander House and raffling it off to the public.
In 1989-90 Jack Alton was president, and his 1st Vice President was John Baima. Our service budget rose to $34,000 and Jack quickly went on to be Lt. Governor. In great sadness John began suffering from a mysterious malady diagnosed by Jerry Bushnell as an unusual brain tumor. John was unable to take his well-earned president’s chair, and he died that year (1990) among his multitude of Kiwanis friends. It was part of a double tragedy because we were also to lose beloved, almost-charter member, club mentor, and our first Director Emeritus, Frank Castagno. His life was particularly long and full, and his death was a well-earned, calm and peaceful one, again among his and Bonnie’s countless friends. In honor of these two outstanding members, funds were raised to build the Gibson Park picnic shelter in their memory. Also to be remembered are Dick Nieman, past president and Issakiwanian Singer, and Ken Miller our outstanding secretary for many years.
Linda Ruehle’s presidency was 1990-91, and our membership climbed to 100 and the service budget was almost $36,000! Among her many achievements that year was the Board’s decision to support the proposed Issaquah Community Center by a pledge of $25,000. This donation was later increased by the club’s gift of a large passenger van for their special transportation needs. Also in 1990, John Whitaker and Dorothy Knitter created the summertime Kiwanis Farmers’ Market at Gibson Hall. It has since grown to be a regionally important regular event at Pickering Farm, managed now by the City’s Parks & Recreation Department.
In Ray Harbolt’s year our membership was 102, and a great deal of work was accomplished in repairing, remodeling, and modernizing Gibson Hall. Dave Bush spearheaded these efforts, and he received good help and cooperation from several ambitious and willing members. One satisfying result was that in the following year, Gibson Hall income totaled over $10,000 and became a valuable community asset for private and public functions.
Dick Nieman’s presidency in 1992-93 saw membership rise to 106, and Salmon Days grossed $14,047.32.
The following year (1993-94) was Lyn Hanshew’s and with her live-wire leadership of our 108 members, the Key Clubs flourished and became very important assets to their respective schools’ campus and student service projects. The new Sammamish club was successfully sponsored, and Lyn quickly went on to become an outstanding Lt. Governor of the Division.
1994-95 was Debbie Berto’s year, and, among her many accomplishments, it seemed to be a year of fine-shaping for many organizational aspects of the club; many procedures were polished and documented, and many established programs and policies were carefully, systematically analyzed, evaluated, and organized into better form and substance.
Steve Bennett’s year of 1995-96 saw the beginning of a new significant perennial fund raising project. Steve Drew located a used circus tent available at a bargain price and the Board agreed to its purchase. A committee was formed to store, maintain, deliver and erect-on-demand, and take it down on a rental per event basis. The committee’s first project after temporary storage in Anderson’s extra garage was to erect the much-needed Gibson Hall storage shed (at a cost exceeding that of the tent itself!). The tent project continues to be a regular source of funds for its rental and is manned and womaned by an energetic crew of experts who efficiently erect it in about an hour. The tent has also been a valuable asset for use in Kiwanis functions such as providing sheltered eating space for our Salmon Days customers.
Not only were women energetic members for the tent crew, but in 1995 when we lost both first tenors of the Issakiwanian Singers, Bill Klein rearranged all his barbershop music to include women’s voices. Thus, the group continued its success as a “coed” group.
Jack Claver was president in 1996-97 and for many years managed the rentals and maintenance of Gibson Hall. Finally, as president, he won board approval to replace the Gibson Hall roof. Gibson Hall had its own budget from its rental income and could well afford the expense.
Regarding Kiwanis support of important local performing arts, the Kiwanis connections with the Village Theatre, and later with the Issaquah Chorale, have always been strong and mutually supportive, including, for example, shared directors on their trustee boards. The relationship with Village Theatre bore fruit in 1997-98 when energetic Cathi Champion, Village Theatre’s successful head of public and community relations, became club president. She forged a new character of relationship between Issaquah’s Main Street and Kiwanis. Also, in her year, cut short by her recruitment to a Paul Allen organization position, our first Hixson Award was presented to Life Member Dan Anderson. In that year Village Theatre, having the third largest subscriber base in the Northwest, built its new first class theatre with a Kiwanian heading its Building Committee
Tori Brown, 1st Vice President, relieved Cathi in the summer of 1998 and served an exceptionally long and successful term as president until Gary Techentien’s term began in 1999-2000. It was during Gary’s term that the District Convention was held in Victoria BC, and the club’s officers and others attended the conference aboard a private yacht escorted part of the way by a U.S. Navy trident submarine. Our participation in the sponsorship and concessions selling at the Concerts on the Green began that year and has since become an important service by and a fundraiser for the club. Sandi Collins and Gil Drynan have continued to energetically manage the club’s participation in the concerts.
In our turn-of-the-century year, Jerry Tuttle was at the helm and steered the club through very successful Auction and Salmon Days projects. Relay-for-Life to raise funds for cancer research was a huge success and was chaired by Marilyn Boyden. Chuck Hawley, a transferee member from Bridgeport, Connecticut, was honored for his 40 plus years of service and perfect attendance, along with Ray Jones who was honored for his many years of exemplary service by their receiving Hixson Awards.
2001-02 was Ernie Smith’s second year of service as president of the club. His first term was twenty years earlier! Salmon Days was a success, the Auction netted almost $35,000, and Concerts on the Green raised $2800. The social committee was reformed and organized a pair of Christmas cruises, following the Christmas Ships, on the Andersons’ boat.
In Jackie Roberts’ year of 2002-03, a great deal of careful, systematic updating and documenting of the club’s policies, programs, projects and procedures was undertaken. She leaves office with a beautifully complete manual of what the club does and exactly how it is done. She also leaves the presidency with a large budget surplus because of the ingenious and persevering efforts of Fred Butler in managing the Auction to a $60,000 plus income! The social committee this year was active in stimulating additional fellowship among the members with a well-attended bowling night, a Mariners’ ballgame night, and a repeat of the Christmas Ships cruises with the Jarvis and Andersons boats taking part in the festive parade. The social committee then capped off the year with a great Kiwanis family picnic at the Jarvis home, grounds, and gardens.
Finally, it needs to be noted that the history and achievements of this great club are most importantly made by the hundreds of members we have had over the past quarter-century who make their efforts and contributions tirelessly and reliably week after week. There are many names that should be mentioned without which there could not be a successful club. It is impossible to list them all, but they include names like Rollie, Rowan, Klein, Konarski, Polly, Gil, Barb, Barry, Connie, Michele, David, Ed, and so many more. And to those in our past, those members now, and the many who will follow, we sing “Hail Kiwanis” and God bless us all!
Past and Current Kiwanis
1929-30 Frank L. Grimes
1930-31 J.R. Stephenson
1931-32 Walter E. Biles
1932-33 Andrew L. Wold
1933-34 Lee R. Hepler
1934-35 Ray J. Schneider
1935-36 Leonard Miles
1936-37 A.J. Peters
1937-38 Allan Peterson
1938-39 James Moffatt
1939-40 Hans Forster
1940-41 John Fischer
1941-42 Frank Castagno
1942-43 Dr. Dana R. Hillery
1943-44 Tony Walen
1944-45 Rem Castagno
1945-46 Mel Krumbah
1946-47 Irwin N. Rummelin
1947-48 Clifford M. Johnson
1948-49 Jesse W. Brooks
1949-50 Irving O. Dalbotten
1950-51 Bert F. Dahl
1951-52 John Hefferline
1952-53 Hector LaChance
1953-54 Mike Shain
1954-55 Estes “Dee” Sherill
1955-56 Mervyn Castagno
1956-57 Charles M. Fallstrom
1957-58 Harry R. Brockway
1958-59 Myron Wheeler
1959-60 Tom R. Deerlng
1960-61 Stanley Volwiler
1961-62 Douglas F. Moore
1962-63 James G. Tamporeous
1963-64 Charles S. Powers
1964-65 Donald W. Cochrane
1965-66 Robert K. Waitt
1966-67 Bill Evans
1967-68 Les I. Blain
1968-69 Wally Dash
1969-70 Bill Bentley, Bruce Forbes
1970-71 Clifton Johnson
1971-72 Glenn R. Webber
1972-73 Harold Tate
1973-74 Robert L. Windom
1974-75 Ronald C. Prosise, Tom Kelly
1975-76 Gary Winslow,
John A. McConaghy
1976-77 Edwin R. Hall
1977-78 Jack Daughters
1978-79 Dan T. Anderson
1979-80 Leon Kos
1980-81 Ernie Smith
1981-82 Lloyd Bourdon
1982-83 John Whitaker
1983-84 Bob Davey
1984-85 Dave Kingery
1985-86 Don McGinnis
1986-87 Jerry Bushnell
1987-88 Wayne Price
1988-89 Walt Cassidy
1989-90 Jack Alton
1990-91 Linda Ruehle
1991-92 Ray Harbolt
1992-93 Dick Nieman
1993-94 Lyn Hanshew
1994-95 Debbie Berto
1995-96 Steve Bennett
1996-97 Jack Claver
1997-98 Cathi Champion
1998-99 Tori Brown
1999-00 Gary Techentien
2000-01 Jerry Tuttle
2001-02 Ernie Smith
2002-03 Jackie Roberts
2003-04 Gil Drynan
Our Lieutenant Governors
1936-37 Andy Wold
1972-73 Don Raybuck
1975-76 Wally Dash
1981-82 Leon Kos
1991-92 Jack Alton
1995-96 Lyn Hanshew
Our District Governors
1972-73 Earl Robertson
1929 Club Officers
Frank L. Grimes, President
J. Ross Stephenson, Vice President
Andrew L. Wold, Secretary
Theodore Kinnune, Treasurer
Al J. Peters, District Trustee
Eric J. Anderson
Paul Benson Joe Lewis
Walter E. Biles
Moses A. Boyden
George M. Clark
Monte H. Clarke
Fred P. Cussac
Frank L. Grimes
Art Haynes J.
Lee R. Hepler
Chas. E. Kinnune
Paul W. Knoernschild
George S. Maness
Henry A. Payne
Ed. J. Powell
Joe A. Reynolds
2003-2004 Club Officers
Gil Drynan, President
Joan Probala, President-Elect
Fred Butler, Vice President
Polly Sablan, Secretary
Jim Konarski, Treasurer
Jackie Roberts, Past President
Dan Anderson — Life Member
Ray Jones — Life Member
Leon Kos — Life Member
John Whitaker — Life Member
Jack Alton — Life Member
Mary Ann Ottinger
Local Organizations & Projects supported by the Kiwanis Club of Issaquah, as of 2004
Academic Scholarships Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank
The American Cancer Society Issaquah Historical Society
Aquatic Therapy for Disabled Persons The Issaquah Senior Center
AtWork Jewish Family Services
Boyer Children’s Hospital Junior Achievement
Camp SAMBICA Just for Fun Fair
Childcare Resources Key Clubs – Issaquah & Liberty High Schools
Community Center Youth Scholarships Mountain to Sound Environmental Education
Compassion House Participation for Youth Justice
Concerts on the Green Providence Marianwood
Eastside Baby Corner Reach for the Sky July
Eastside Domestic Violence Reading Program
F.I.S.H. Relay for Life
Friends of Youth Mentor Program Salmon Days
Head Start Scout Programs
HOBY Scholarships Special Olympics
Issaquah Alps Trails Spelling Bee
The Issaquah Chorale The Village Theatre’s Kidstage
Issaquah Church & Community Services Young Life
Issaquah Community Teaching Garden Youth Wall of Fame