Eva Bailey McFall

Teacher and Snohomish County School Superintendent
By Betty Lou Gaeng

One afternoon in the late spring of 1952, H. Phil Brandner, supervisor of the Mount Baker National Forest, and his wife, Beada, were spending a quiet Sunday afternoon visiting the old mining town of Monte Cristo. Tucked away in the Cascade Mountains on Barlow Pass, Monte Cristo had once been a rip-roaring camp. In 1952, half a century later, it was reduced to a few decaying buildings and rubble. Stopping at a pile of rotting boards, all that remained of what had once been a building, Mrs. Brandner read the posted sign. She turned to her husband in amazement; almost questioning what she was seeing:
THIS was a schoolhouse?
Fifty years and harsh mountain weather had left its mark on what was now a ghost town. Standing quietly nearby was a spry elderly lady; she was small, her long hair was white, and her face lined with a web of fine wrinkles. As she stood looking at the pile of boards, 89-year-old Eva Bailey McFall turned to Mr. and Mrs. Brandner and with just a hint of tremor in her voice told them:
Yes, this was the schoolhouse.
No one knew better than Eva Bailey McFall that this pile of rotting wood had indeed been just that. It was here the children of the mostly Welsh miners experienced the world of education under the tutelage of their teacher, Miss Eva Bailey. With many years of teaching already behind her in the Midwest, 33-year-old Eva Bailey had come all the way from Iowa to Everett. Monte Cristo had been her first teaching assignment since arriving in Everett. She also became the first accredited teacher in this isolated mountain-side one-room schoolhouse.

When Eva Bailey boarded the train in Everett on her way to Monte Cristo she may have been a little unsure of what she would find, but there can be no doubt she still looked forward to a new challenge. Raised in the flat lands in the mid-section of our country, she was sure to have been thrilled at seeing the farmlands change to valleys and imposing mountains. As the train began its steep climb, it went in and out of tunnels giving her glimpses of the snow-covered mountains peeking through the dark clouds. When the train arrived at the Monte Cristo camp and she walked along a rocky pathway, the sounds of men at work were all around her. Arriving at the school house, she found an unimposing twenty-four by thirty-foot building of unpainted boards.

On the first day, only six pupils came to register for school. However, more families were arriving each day, and soon she had 36 pupils, and at times more. Eva, found that in the mining camp more was expected of her than just teaching reading and writing. Eva organized picnics by the Sauk River, berry-picking get-togethers and even Sunday school classes.

Rosemary Wilkie in her book “A Broad Gold Ledge of Gold”, gives us a closer look at Eva Bailey—her appearance and her natural ability:

“When the mining companies brought in a doctor, they furnished him with a hospital, but no nurses. With the analytical exactness of his profession, Dr. Miles looked for someone who would serve in that capacity should the need arise. The school teacher’s fragile beauty and intellectual eyes told him she would keep her head under any emergency, and she found herself studying the rudiments of first aid and practical nursing.”
Eva learned to love the mountains, even though at first they intimidated her. She walked the trails, going further and further each time. With no place to go for amusement, she became appreciative of everything around her. She also learned to understand the people, especially their enjoyment of life, when they had so little. When the mine had to close for a while, she sympathized with these people as they struggled with the hardship of just hanging on. Mining was all they knew and they had no place else to go. She learned from them, and as the school teacher, they learned from her.

When she left Monte Cristo, Eva Bailey evidently taught for a short time at Snohomish where her brother was located. In 1901, she returned to Everett and her parent’s home; her next assignment was as a teacher at the old Jefferson School. She remained at Jefferson School until 1907 when she was appointed as the Superintendent of Schools for Snohomish County. Now 44 years old, Eva Bailey faced yet another challenge.

Without Missouri Hanna,* and her writings as the editor of the Edmonds Review, we may never have heard of the courage shown by Eva Bailey, nor of her incredible dedication:

“FORCED TO WALK: Miss Bailey, County Superintendent Walks 10 Miles Over Rough Roads

Miss Eva Bailey, county school superintendent, while pursuing her official duties last Friday, found it necessary to walk about ten miles through a wild region and over rough and sloppy roads. Miss Bailey had gone to Meadowdale to investigate the case of certain children who had been absent from school. Being unable to satisfactorily accomplish the object of her mission at Meadowdale, a further journey to the home of the children’s parents was necessary.
The course wound over rugged hills and through valleys obstructed by small lakes, bogs and brambles. The superintendent, however, persevered, finally reaching the locality sought and having transacted the required business, and being unable to procure conveyance to Edmonds, set out again through a densely timbered region toward the ranch of Hiram H. Burleson where she hoped to find some means of transportation to town.
Here again the tired traveler was disappointed. Mr. Burleson, with his horses and vehicle was away from home. After a short rest and refreshments, Miss Bailey continued her journey on foot to Edmonds, arriving very tired, but with a clear knowledge of the frightful and even impassable condition of some of the county roads heading out of Edmonds.”
This trip would have been rough for an experienced woodsman; definitely a real challenge for a woman all alone.

Eva Bailey was a strong advocate for education. On January 23, 1908, The Edmonds Tribune carried a warning from the superintendent that parents were required to send their children to school, otherwise warrants would be issued, such as the one served on one D. Hunter. The D. Hunter mentioned would have been Duncan Hunter, a well-known south county pioneer homesteader. Mr. and Mrs. Hunter must have heeded the words of the superintendent regarding education, as their four sons not only graduated from high school, but from college as well. Score a big win for Eva Bailey. In an age when women were expected to marry, stay at home, raise a family, answer to a husband, and just stay in the background, where on earth did this woman come from?

Eva Bailey was born in Carroll County, Illinois July 9, 1862. Her father was Ira L. Bailey, a farmer. Eva’s mother, Virginia Rupel, was born in 1833 while her parents were at sea aboard a ship from Germany. In 1895, the family lived in Grant Township, Page County, Iowa, and Eva now in her 30s was still living at home and teaching in the country school. In 1896, with the country in turmoil from an 1893 economic downturn, Mr. and Mrs. Bailey and their family, including 34-year old Eva, moved west to Puget Sound, settling in Everett. Mr. Bailey, now in his 70s, operated a nursery business at the family home at 3232 Oakes Avenue in Everett.

In December of 1911, Eva Bailey was still school superintendent when at the age of 48 she married a well-known and respected Everett business man, Elijah Palmer McFall, a 36-year-old widower with two children. Eva retired as school superintendent in order to help her husband with his business interests—mainly as a bookkeeper in his office. They lived at 1914 East Grand Street in Everett. Eva’s parents, now elderly, went to live with their daughter and her new family. The McFalls continued to live in Everett, where Elijah McFall died in 1941. Eva Bailey McFall died June 18, 1952, less than a month before her 90th birthday, and just a short time following her memory-filled journey back to Monte Cristo.

I would like to extend my appreciation to another remarkable lady, Rosemary Wilkie. Without her book telling of Eva Bailey’s personal attributes and life at Monte Cristo, Eva’s story would not be complete. Thank you, Rosemary.

Rosemary Wilkie, A Broad Bold Ledge of Gold: Historical Facts, Monte Cristo, Washington (Seattle; Seattle Printing and Publishing, ca. 1958).
he Edmonds Review, Edmonds, Washington; January 8, 1908.
he Edmonds Tribune, Edmonds, Washington; January 23, 1908.
U. S. Federal Census Records 1870–1940.
Everett City Directories.
Washington Digital Archives, Death and Marriage Records of Snohomish County.
Charles P. Warne, “Missouri Hanna: Mother of Journalism in Washington State,” Women’s Legacy Project Story # 61, the Snohomish County Women’s Legacy Project at League of Snohomish County Heritage Organization website, www.snocoheritage.org/wlp_61_M_Hanna.html.
**Many thanks to Charles LeWarne for discovering the 1908 article about Eva Bailey and her noteworthy walk, and to Margaret Riddle for sending it to me.

© Betty Gaeng 2015 All Rights Reserved;  WLP Story # 81

Eleanor Leight

Beloved dancer shares talent with her community

By Teri Baker

Former Rockette Eleanor Leight, shown here in her late sixties, is now an octogenarian. She still teaches dance and can still do impressive kicks.

She has about her that elegance and effortless grace of which poets speak with silver tongues. Long, slender legs exquisitely positioned, Eleanor Leight demonstrates a ballet move. A moment later she executes a complicated tap dance. It is hard to believe that this supple, youthful woman is an octogenarian.

Eleanor teaches dance classes for children after school in Snohomish, as well as adults in tap, ballet, exercise and ballroom dancing for adults through the community schools program. The former Rockette also directs The Leight Fantastics, a group she began 26 years ago after a woman approached her and said that she had always wanted to tap. That woman was the first of a long line of adults to discover the joy of dance and the magic that is Eleanor Leight.
Prior to forming the Leight Fantastics, Eleanor, who has lifelong experience in the performing arts, had already written and produced the first four of Snohomish Historical Society’s annual vaudeville shows and was one of the driving forces of the Snohomish Bicentennial Committee, helping put together a production involving 300 people.
Born March 13, 1922 in Philadelphia, Eleanor started dancing when she was eight. Stage shows were all the rage, and her uncle, a stage manager, used to sneak little Eleanor and her sister, Frances, backstage.

“The first time we saw the dancing, we knew!” Eleanor says, recalling the delight and wonder of that moment. The sisters took free lessons at the local recreation center and were soon performing. Eleanor was fascinated by all the forms of dance, but her real love has always been ballet. At age 17 she began teaching at Philadelphia’s Littlefield Ballet, but at 5’ 7” she was simply too tall to be part of the cast. She concentrated on tap dancing and when she was 20, auditioned for the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes.
“I guess I could do the kicks and had the ‘look’ they wanted, so I got in,” Eleanor says modestly. She had traveled the vaudeville circuit with George White’s Scandals doing four or five shows a day as accompaniment to movies. Doing four shows a day with the Rockettes at New York’s Rockefeller Center was a walk in the park for her.

“It was not as demanding as some things are,” she reflects. “There would be only one big number that was maybe five minutes long. Then, we’d often do one other thing, like dress up in gowns and furs for a nightclub scene or sit in a swing and be pushed during another number.

Eleanor was with the Rockettes for a year in New York and then another year in Europe on a USO tour as part of Radio City’s contribution to the war effort. The war in Europe ended while the show was in rehearsal, but the danger had not passed. The show involved 80 people and 20 tons of scenery, all transported from New York by a ship forced to negotiate mine fields, and then moved throughout Europe on weapons’ carriers and trains. “In the countryside, the SS was still coming down and capturing people,” Eleanor says. “It was a scary time. The girls didn’t go very far away and always went by twos for safety.”

Eleanor and her companions saw for themselves the unspeakable horror the Nazis created. She visited concentration camps and sat in the press box, wearing a headset that provided instant translation, at Nuremberg when Hermann Goering was tried for war crimes.

A shadow clouds her eyes at the memory, and then her positive nature asserts itself. Eleanor chooses to concentrate on how well she and her fellow performers were received. She says, smiling, “It was my experience that people really liked Americans.”

After her return to Philadelphia, Eleanor taught dance and, using the stage name Eleanor Russell, appeared in a solo act for nine years. Booked out of New York, she performed numerous club dates and at lavish private parties. She says she shunned the nightclub scene because it depended on “mixing with people who were not always sober” and “staying up until all hours.”

She married Wes Leight, a boat builder, and moved to Long Island, NY. As the family grew, Eleanor continued to teach dance. Wes went to Eugene, Oregon to go into construction work and sent for his family a year later. Eleanor packed up her five boys, an Airedale and a guinea pig and headed west on the train. In the 1960s, the Leights moved to Snohomish County.

Eleanor’s family is still a big part of her life and of her annual revue. Steve serves as stage manner, Cliff takes publicity photos and David helps with art work. When he’s in the area, Andrew, helps with the music and plays trombone in the show’s Dixieland band. Peter helps whenever he’s needed and runs the spotlight.

“We all used to dance in the shows,” Peter says with an affectionate glance at his mother. “Now we do other things to help out.”

Eleanor is proud of her sons and of her husband’s influence on the family’s life. But during the spring, the family ball is definitely in Eleanor’s court. There are more than 100 people involved in the vaudeville revue held each Mother’s Day weekend. It’s sometimes hard to get Eleanor to acknowledge her own considerable contribution to the productions because she would rather spotlight the talent and accomplishments of others.

At 85, her kicks, although not quite as high as when she was a Rockette, are still impressive. She remains a model of professionalism, patience, hard work and perseverance. With these qualities, along with her considerable talent, warmth, grace and spirit, it is little wonder that Eleanor Leight is one of Snohomish’s most beloved citizens.

Sources: Personal interviews with Eleanor Leight, 1994 and 2007.
© Theresa (Teri) A. Baker, 1994 – 2007
All rights reserved.;  WLP Story # 43

Minerva Healy Lucken

~ Keeper of the family flame

By Tammy Kinney

Minerva Healy Lucken, devoted daughter and wife, exemplified the resilient women of the early 20th century who experienced tragedy early in life, accepted it with grace and quietly carried on. Minerva’s life in Monroe – from 1909 until her death in 1997 at age 94 – mirrors the town’s growth and development both in population and industry. Minerva’s history also provides an example of the life and times of women who worked outside the home and found fulfilment there. Her succession of jobs shows the variety of employment options available to single and married woman of her generation.

Minerva’s parents were Bartholomew and Minerva Illif Healy. They married in Minneapolis in January 1900 and came west, settling in Tolt, Washington. Bart was a partner in a logging operation with John Joyce named Healy & Joyce. After that, he ran a logging operation of his own and owned a lumber yard in Tacoma called Healy Lumber Company.

Minerva’s mother took a position as a teacher in Tolt soon after they arrived, and they welcomed their first child in 1901, a daughter named Mildred. In September 1903, a second daughter arrived who was named Minerva after her mother. Next followed a stillborn boy and in 1907, twins Marjorie and Marguerite. In 1909, son Harold arrived. Minerva’s mother contracted tuberculosis (called consumption in those days) a common and deadly illness. The family moved from Tolt to Monroe in 1909, to a new two-story home, to help her recover. Minerva’s mother struggled valiantly in their new home, as she recounted in a 1989 interview.

“We moved because there was no one in Tolt to take care of my mother. Dr. Cox was here in Monroe to take care of her. Treating TB now is different, but he wanted her to get up early, go to work and stay busy all the time, which is the opposite of now. She died the next year. We were having breakfast one morning. I remember the nurse came down the hall and into the dining room and she looked at Papa and said ‘she’s gone.’ I understood immediately. I jumped up and ran up the stairs but she wasn’t quite gone because when I knelt down by the bed, she said ‘You be a good girl, won’t you?’ “

By the time Minerva’s mother died on March 11, 1910, the family had already experienced tragedy. First-born daughter Mildred passed away three months before her mother in January of 1910 and the year before, six-month-old son Harold died. Bart was left alone to raise young Minerva and the twins. He devoted his life to them and never remarried.

“Mildred was my mother’s pride and joy. After she died, her class from school came to the house and they stood in the front room next to the casket and all the children were singing.”

Despite losing her mother and siblings, Minerva persevered, displaying the positive attitude and sunny disposition that was a hallmark of her personality. She remembers a carefree childhood of playing hide and seek with her sisters and neighborhood friends in the big white house on Hill Street and Bart allowing just about anything, as long as the children were at home.

“We would run up and down the stairs and hide in the attic and under the beds and ride and play with the horses, Dolly and Bill. We climbed all over those horses and no one ever got hurt. Marjorie beat all the boys at (the knife game) Mumbley Peg. I wasn’t much on that but I played marbles a lot. My husband picked some of our marbles out of the garden years later.”

Bart sold his business interests in 1906 and focused on raising his three daughters. As the oldest, Minerva also shared this duty, doing well in school, helping out at home and graduating from Monroe High School with high marks in 1922. After high school, she attended Washington State University in Pullman for two years.

During breaks from college, Minerva worked for J.D. Woods in Monroe, which became a full-time job after college. She also worked at the Frye Lettuce Farm in 1933, one of the major sources of employment for Monroe residents in the 1930s.

“I remember Elizabeth Nelson came by and said that our friends were going to work at the lettuce farm and asked if I wanted to go. We earned a dime an hour. She picked me up and brought me a pair of boy’s overalls. We crawled around weeding and I almost wore my trousers out in the knees. One day, Pauline Oster came out (she did more cussing than speaking ordinary English) and said ‘Everybody get busy, here comes Charlie Frye.’ We were working like the dickens and all of a sudden along came Charlie Frye and I saw those shiny shoes down in front of me. He said ‘What’s your name?’ and I said ‘Minerva Healy.’ He said ‘You’re not Bart Healy’s daughter?’ And I said ‘Yes, I am, Mr. Frye.’ I came home that night and asked my father why he didn’t tell me he knew Charlie Frye. He said he thought it was better that I didn’t!”

After discovering her tie to Charlie Frye, Minerva was moved into the office at the lettuce farm and then went to work for the Frye’s meat packing plant in Seattle. She lived with a family during the work week and took the bus home to Monroe every weekend to take care of her father and sisters.

Minerva’s work life also included teaching Works Progress Administration (WPA) adult education classes in “sewing science” in 1933-34, working as a freelance seamstress in the community, as office manager for Pictsweet Foods in the 1940s and for Monroe physician and surgeon Dr. Percy Cooley in the 1950s. But the job that most people associate with Minerva was at Dever’s Furniture store in Monroe. Over 40 years, she served as office manager, salesperson and became the face of the business to countless shoppers and local residents. She retired at age 75.

Minerva married Even Lucken on Sept. 1, 1940 and the couple lived at the family home with Bart and Marguerite. Even Lucken died in 1986 and she followed on Sept. 4, 1997.

Minerva’s family history lives on in the 1885 oak pump organ that was donated to the Monroe Historical Society Museum from her home. It came west with her mother from Minnesota and stood in the house for almost a century. The family home at 321 Hill Street, that saw both tragedy and joy, is being restored by a local Monroe businesswoman intent on preserving the Healy-Lucken memories and pioneering spirit.

Minerva’s memory also lives on in the many Monroe residents who knew her. “Minerva was a very good friend of my mother’s and we would go visit her at her home,” says Monroe native Harriett (Ohlsen) Barr. “She was a very happy person and a pillar of the community – always well dressed and immaculate. The house was the same way; beautifully kept with a lovely yard. She was a gracious lady and well-respected by everyone.”

In November of 1989, Minerva was recognized as a Pioneer of Snohomish County by the Snohomish County Centennial Committee.


David Abbot letter to Monroe Historical Society. 6 January 1989.

Tami Kinney interview with Harriet Ohlsen Barr, January 2015.

Minerva Healy and Bartholomew Healy personal papers.

Amy Beavers interview with Minerva Lucken, (on CD), January 27,1989.

Nellie Robertson, “Minerva Lucken House Filled with Antiques and Family Memories.” Monroe Monitor, October 1, 1986.

H.L.Squibb. Letter of Recommendation for Minerva Healy to Snohomish County Centennial Committee.

© Tami Kinney 2015 All Rights Reserved

Mary Joyce (Sherwood) Little

By Betty Lou Gaeng

Marie Little may not have been born a native of the city we now know as Lynnwood, Washington, but her marriage to Alderwood Manor native Warren Robert Little inspired her to become active in the community and one of its strongest advocates in remembering and proclaiming Lynnwood’s heritage.  With her marriage into a pioneer family, Marie was given the perfect opportunity to learn the history of her new home—a home she treasured throughout her lifetime. Upon Lynnwood’s incorporation in 1959 and its annexing of neighboring communities over the next few years, Lynnwood became a city composed of many diverse neighborhoods.  The roots of Alderwood Manor, the largest of Lynnwood’s annexations, especially became a passion for Marie Little.  She joined forces with Lynnwood; became one of the original members of Lynnwood’s Historical Commission in 1998; served as its chairperson and was a member for 10 years.  Together Marie and the city formed a partnership to reclaim Lynnwood’s roots.
Marie Joyce Sherwood was born October 18, 1932 in Everett, Washington—making her an official Snohomish County native.  She was the youngest of two children and spent her childhood years in Everett, then they moved to Seattle with her mother.  In Seattle, Marie graduated from Garfield High School.  In 1951, Marie married Warren Robert Little.  The couple lived in Seattle for a very short time while Warren built a home for them in Alderwood Manor on Cedar Way (44th Avenue West), one block from his own childhood home.  This became their lifetime home; where they raised their two children: daughter Ellen and son Brett. In an interview published in the Enterprise in 1994, Marie stated that she became interested in writing as a child, but found it was not an occupation recommended by school counselors for “making a living.”  Marie did not let that negative observation keep her from the career she had always wanted—writing was in her blood.
In the 1960s, she took a writing class and began her freelance writing career.  She had articles published in Woman’s Day, Modern Bride and the Seattle Times. She also did some writing for trade journals.  Because she became a freelance writer Marie joined and remained a long-time member of the Seattle Free Lances, a Professional & Social Networking for Published & Aspiring Writers of the Northwest.
During the early 1970s, as a resident of the Alderwood/Lynnwood area, Marie Little wrote a column for the local news publication the Enterprise, entitled: “Orbiting AlderLynn.”  This column ran for two years and won for Marie a first-place award in the 1971 Washington Press Women competition.  According to an article by Bill Sheets in a 1994 edition of the Enterprise, “the column was part gossip, part local events, and part wry observation—inspired by a bad experience buying a bathing suit and sustained by Little’s knowledge of the area and people, gained from having lived in North Lynnwood since 1952.”
Marie worked as a secretary for a short time, and then quit when she decided she didn’t like to type what other people had written.  When her children were grown, Marie went back to school and graduated from the University of Washington in 1978 at the age of 46 with a bachelor’s degree in communications.
Beginning in February of 1991, Marie initiated, produced and hosted a program on community radio station KSER, 90.7 FM, which was called “If Houses Could Speak.”  This production was broadcast at 7:45 a.m. on the last Wednesday of each month.  The program, which was taped, featured Marie Little as she took listeners on a tour of historical structures of Snohomish County while interviewing the owners of the buildings.  This program aired for several years, and won an award of merit from the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.   In addition to her early column in the Enterprise mentioned above, her columns and articles appeared in later Enterprise issues, as well as in the Snohomish County Business Journal, the Third Age newspaper, the Seattle Times, and the Snohomish County Women’s Legacy Project.
Because of her interest in preserving the history and the buildings of her adopted hometown, Marie became a charter member of the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association (AMHA) in 1991. In his 1994 Enterprise article, Bill Sheets quoted Marie’s comment regarding the beginning of the association and her personal involvement. Marie said: “I became really concerned about the way buildings were disappearing and I was afraid the history of the area would be lost.”  During her lifetime commitment to AMHA, Marie also became the editor of the association’s newsletter during its early years, and served on its board.
In 2006, Marie co-authored with Kevin Stadler and the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association, an Images of America book “Alderwood Manor”.  This has becoming a very popular book with members of the association, as well as visitors to AMHA.
Also in 2006, Marie received the Washington Museum Association Award for Individual Excellence.  No doubt Marie Little would agree that among her best works in preservation was her strong leadership in working with the City of Lynnwood and Alderwood Manor Heritage Association to establish the city’s Heritage Park on Poplar Way. At this little park tucked away from the busy commercial side of Lynnwood, the heritage of Lynnwood is preserved.  Opened with dedication ceremonies in 2004, it has become an unexpected crown jewel of parks in Lynnwood.  As you enter the park, Marie Little is immortalized by the street sign proclaiming “Marie Little Drive.” Inside Heritage Cottage, home to Alderwood Manor Heritage Association, one room is set aside as the “Marie Little Library.”
Marie Little spearheaded the rescue and relocation of the 1917 Alderwood Manor Demonstration Farm’s Superintendent’s Cottage which became home for the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association’s Resource Center located in Heritage Park.  For this work, the League of Snohomish County Historical Organizations (LOSCHO), on January 20, 2007 presented the prestigious Malstrom Award to Alderwood Manor Heritage Association, acknowledging outstanding contributions to the field of Snohomish County history.
Having been diagnosed with cancer several months earlier, in 2009 Marie’s health was failing. In December of that year, the City of Lynnwood recognized Marie’s special achievements in the preservation of the community’s history by issuing a proclamation naming Marie the official city historian.  She was then presented with the “key” to the city—a first-and-one-time-only award for her good works on behalf of the city.
Marie Joyce Little slipped away to her final rest on February 15, 2010 at the age of 77.  She was survived by Warren, her husband of 58 years.  Warren Robert Little followed Marie in death on January 17, 2014.  Marie and Warren are survived by their two children and their spouses, as well as seven grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
In an article published in the Enterprise following Marie’s death, Mina Williams the paper’s editor interviewed Marie’s daughter Ellen, who had this to say about her mother’s literary ability.  “As a teenager I didn’t always appreciate her columns, particularly the one about my first two-piece bathing suit.  But her writings were humorous.  It was like you were talking to her.”
Those who knew Marie Little are sure to remember her as a tiny woman—one who loved her family and her hometown, and never failed to show that love in a big way.

Obituaries for Marie J. Little (2010) and Warren R. Little (2014).
“Longtime resident keeps a history of AlderLynn” — Bill Sheets; Enterprise (Aug. 24, 1994).
“Lynnwood historian writer passes” – Mina Williams Enterprise (Feb. 24, 2010)
And the diverse writings of Marie J. Little during her time as editor and writer for the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association’s News Clippings column.
© Betty Gaeng 2014   All Rights Reserved; WLP Story # 76

Mary (Knott) Langrill

A Survivor & a Mapping Mystery

by Betty Gaeng

The name M. Langrill printed on a plat map was the first clue to lead me to the intriguing and poingant story Township 27 Section 35d poignant story of a lady who came from far away to join the sisterhood of women who were part of Snohomish County’s past.

This discovery was made when I was a co-worker on a project involving landholders listed on the 1910 Plat Map of Township 27 North, Range 4 East, W.M., Snohomish County, Washington. As I observed the names, for some reason the name M. Langrill shown as the owner of a mere 10-acre parcel of land caught my eye. At the time I had no idea whether the name referred to a man or a woman. All I could tell was that amidst the large platted acreages, M. Langrill owned only 10 acres in his or her name. In our day this piece of land would be located in the city of Brier in Southwest Snohomish County. In 1910, I imagine it was ten acres of virgin forest—no building is shown on the plat.

My first discovery was that M. Langrill was female, a widow by the name of Mary Langrill and she had lived in Edmonds since 1891, never on the 10-acres she owned several miles southeast of the town. That land was most likely an investment toward her future welfare. From then on, bits and pieces of her life story and its many tragedies emerged.

Mary Knott was her birth name. Mary and her twin Martha were born in Plymouth, Devonshire, England on February 6, 1860. Their parents were John and Mary Knott, both born in England. Of this family, consisting of five girls and two boys, six came to the United States. At the age of 20, Mary traveled alone on her journey from England to Canada and then to the United States in 1882. She came to join an older brother and sister who had established a pioneer home in Minnesota in the small county of Rock situated in the southwest corner of the state. When the Minnesota State Census was taken the first day of May in 1885, Mary was enumerated as residing with her older brother John E. Knott in the village of Kanaranzi in Rock County. Nearby a young man by the name of Frank Langrill was also listed in the same census.

Franklin Langrill was born in Canada in 1859. He and Mary Knott met and they soon married. The couple did not remain in Minnesota; instead the newlyweds loaded their few belongings onto a covered wagon and with their one cow tied behind, they traveled to Seneca, Faulk County, South Dakota. Mary and Frank began farming on a small parcel of land. It was a hardscrabble life for the couple. Three daughters were born to them in Seneca: Nellie in 1886, Ethel Frances in 1888 and Edith Mary in 1890.

Mary told the story of one event happening at their little home site; an event that almost had a tragic ending. The three little girls were playing outside when a stampede of cattle came roaring towards them. They were carried to safety by their mother— just in time. This may have been the final straw that led to the couple’s decision to move elsewhere in order to find a better way of life than trying to eke out a living in South Dakota with its heat in the summer and cold snowy winters.

In 1891, Mary, Frank, and the three little girls headed west to Washington State’s Snohomish County and the town of Edmonds along the shore of Puget Sound. In Edmonds they lived on Maple Street and Frank found work as a teamster. Their life as hardscrabble farmers was ended.

Three more daughters were born to Mary and Frank. Emma was born in 1895, but died August 31, 1897. Jessie Marie was born November 7, 1897 and died just before Christmas of 1898. These were tragic times for the Langrill family. The two little girls were buried in the historic I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Edmonds—a cemetery now known as Edmonds Memorial Cemetery.

Mary and Frank’s sixth and last child was another daughter. She was born in July of 1899 and they named her Ruth Evangeline.

Less than two years later, Mary endured another loss. While her husband Frank and a friend were hunting near Mud Lake (now known as Lake Serene) a few miles northeast of Edmonds, tragedy struck again. The two men had become separated and during the darkness, about 3 o’clock on Sunday morning, June 9, 1901, Frank’s hunting companion mistook him for a bear and fired his rifle. The shot struck Frank in his right leg just above the knee. Frank fell into the lake, and was pulled from the water by his friend. Miles from the nearest hospital located in Everett, they did not reach it until 10 o’clock that morning—seven hours after the accident. The shock and loss of blood was too much; Frank died at Everett Hospital that day. The shooting was officially ruled as accidental. Frank was buried at the I.O.O.F. Cemetery near the couple’s two small daughters. He was 42 years old.gravestone

With her husband gone and four young daughters still at home, one just a toddler, Mary became a laundress. Working from her home in Edmonds, she somehow managed to support her family and to save a little money to invest in the 10 acres of timberland.

Frank’s death was not the end of sorrow for Mary. Daughter Nellie Langrill died from tuberculosis during September of 1907 at the age of 21. Nellie was laid to rest next to her father and two little sisters. All in all, Mary outlived her husband and five of her daughters. Ruth Evangeline, who had been the toddler when her father was killed, died in March of 1920. She was not quite 21 years old.

Daughter Ethel Francis married George E. Davis and went with him to live on a farm in Lincoln County, Eastern Washington. Ethel and George had ten children; Mary’s only grandchildren. Ethel died when she was just 40 years old, in October of 1929. Ethel was also buried at the I.O.O.F. Cemetery beside her father and four sisters.

After Ethel’s death, several of her children were sent to live with Grandmother Mary and Aunt Edith (Mrs. Joseph Miller) in Edmonds. There they attended the Edmonds schools, graduating from the highgravemarker school.
Having endured one loss after another, Mary must have been very thankful she still had her daughter Edith. During the last few years of her life, Mary resided in south Edmonds with this one surviving daughter and her husband. Mary died there on August 15, 1933 at the age of 73. She was buried next to her husband Frank and five of their daughters.

On the January 3, 1978, surviving daughter Edith Mary Langrill Miller died and she now lies beside her Langrill family at Edmonds Memorial Cemetery. Mary and Frank and their six little girls are together now. Their graves occupy a large area of the original section of the old cemetery. Through the years, a few grandchildren have also joined Mary and Frank there. In visiting their graves, I felt as if I was standing amid a family’s reunion.

Mary Knott Langrill was not famous with a spectacular career as a mover and shaker in life’s affairs. She left only a few reminders for us. One a paper trail on a plat map showing her as the owner of 10 acres of land. She left a few other trails along the way as she buried a husband and five daughters in the soil of Snohomish County. As a young woman of 20, she began her travels alone, crossing an ocean from her home in England. She had a long and difficult journey before she reached her final destination. Now she sleeps in the soil of her adopted home, and her name is woven into the fabric of this county’s history.

Anderson Map Company, and James W. Myers. Plat Book of Snohomish County Washington. Seattle, Wash: Anderson Map Co, 1910. Plat map of Township 27 North, Range 4 East, W.M., Snohomish County, Washington.
Washington State Digital Archives < http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov/ >
Everett Daily Herald – Monday, June 10, 1901
Ancestry.com < http://search.ancestry.com/ >
Edmonds Tribune-Review—August 18, 1933 and January 11, 1978.
© 2010 Betty Lou Gaeng, All Rights Reserved;  WLP STory #68

Martha Kraencke

Martha Kraencke on her Bench

~ The Walking Lady of Edmonds
by Betty Lou Gaeng

“Martha! Martha!” As the children chanted her name, Martha Kraencke appeared not to notice. Her steps seldom faltered as she walked along the sidewalks and alley ways of downtown Edmonds. Children can be cruel, especially when they view someone a little different. Martha Kraencke was not only different—she had an aura of mystery.
If you spent time in Edmonds in the latter part of the 1940s through the early 1970s, Martha was a lady you would have noticed and wondered about. For almost 30 years, Martha Kraencke was probably the most visually recognized person in Edmonds. Yes, Martha was recognized, but she was also an enigma.
Resting from her walking, she could sometimes be seen seated at her favorite bench on Sunset Avenue and Casper Street in Edmonds looking out over the waters of Puget Sound. It was here that Helen Reynolds’ camera captured Martha’s visage on film to display in the front window of her photography studio on Main Street in Edmonds. Martha was wearing a favorite Navy blue suit, pristine white blouse and straw hat—the jacket of her suit neatly folded over the back of the bench. [This photo of Martha was displayed in photographer Helen Reynold’s Studio and was reprinted in the Edmonds Tribune Review (date not known), please contact us if you know more!].
What did Martha see? Perhaps she was recalling a much earlier time—a time when her beloved husband’s body was discovered floating in the waters of the Pacific near California’s Los Angeles Harbor. Yes, Martha had a story—a very unusual one. One that included glamour, tragedy, and finally, a life of solitude.
Martha was born Martha Giersch in Berlin, Germany on February 27, 1894. She completed her schooling in 1912 and went to work as a secretary for a German movie studio in Berlin. An attractive, slender grey-eyed blonde, she appeared in small roles as an actress or an extra in several silent films. It was during this time she met another Berliner, Fritz Kraencke, already a well-established set designer and cinematographer in the German film industry. Martha and Fritz were married in Berlin in 1914.
Martha’s husband Fritz was exempted from military service during the First World War, and continued a successful career in silent films in Germany. In later years, Fritz also designed sets for the German Staatsoper, an opera house, and Bayreuth, an opera festival. On March 21, 1920, their only child, a son, Herbert Guenter Kraencke was born in Berlin, Brandenburg, Germany.
In 1926, Fritz accepted the position as set designer for the Los Angeles Grand Opera, and the family left Berlin to become members of the Hollywood/Los Angeles entertainment world. The Kraencke family sailed from Bremen, Germany to America on the SS George Washington, arriving in New York Harbor on October 22, 1926. They then headed for their new home in Los Angeles and on January 21, 1929, in the U.S. District Court of Los Angeles, California, Martha and Fritz each signed papers declaring their intention to become citizens of the United States—renouncing their allegiance and fidelity to any foreign sovereignty, including the German Reich.
Martha’s husband’s theater career was a successful one for many years. Before WWII, they traveled to Germany, Hawaii and Mexico, and finally back to Europe for the last time in 1937. Judging by the trunks of beautiful clothes found in Martha’s home after her death, they lived a glamorous and elegant life. Among Martha’s stunning wardrobe were many Paris and New York originals.
Martha’s world collapsed in 1947. As reported in the Los Angeles Times of December 2, 1947, early Monday morning, December 1, Martha telephoned her son Herbert because Fritz was missing from their home on West Bluff Place in San Pedro, a section of Los Angeles. As Herbert told police, he contacted the Coast Guard after going to Point Fermin, near their home. There he had dropped a dime in one of the telescopes pointed out to sea and saw what he feared was his father’s body floating in the ocean. It was the body of Fritz Kraencke. Because of the bruises on Mr. Kraencke’s face and head, the police were at first suspicious that the death may have been by foul play. However, both Martha and Herbert said that Fritz was despondent and had been having financial problems. To them, suicide seemed to be a possibility. Officially, the coroner’s ruling was death by drowning in the Pacific Ocean—suicide.

Following Fritz Kraencke’s death at the age of 57, Herbert, a surveyor, moved to Snohomish County, Washington—to a home at Lake Ballinger, a few miles from Edmonds. Martha joined her son. Shortly after this, Martha began catching an early morning bus to downtown Edmonds, and there she would walk all day and in the evening she would take the bus back to her son’s home at Lake Ballinger.
In the mid-fifties, Herbert decided to move back to California. However, by this time, Martha had grown attached to the Northwest. She moved to a small bungalow near downtown Edmonds at Phillip’s Court, 303 Fourth Avenue North, #3. She remained in her little home for the remainder of her life. From this handy spot, Martha continued her solitary walks.
Doug Margeson in an article about Martha Kraencke, written following her death, stated that “Everyone who lived and worked in downtown knew who she was, but only a few knew her.” He continued: “Local kids believed she lived in a haunted house and worked as a foreign spy.” Mr. Margeson’s article included remarks from the few that did get to know Martha. Once or twice a week, she stopped by D Drive-In, once a well-known and popular gathering spot on Sixth and Main, to have a cup of coffee with a young man who worked there. She exchanged hellos with people as she passed by. Helen Reynolds knew her for almost thirty years, and Martha became one of her favorite photo subjects, but even Ms. Reynolds admitted that no one was allowed to come too close.
The newspaper article went on to say, “Once or twice a week she stopped by the Edmonds West Tavern—or the Sail Inn, or Engel’s—to have a loganberry flip. Usually she kept to herself. Occasionally, however, her carefully cultivated reserve dropped away and she showed flashes of warm, sometimes ribald humor.
Martha seemed to have set routes for her walks. Downtown store keepers claimed they could set their watches from the time she walked by their stores. Her coffee-time friend remembered her schedule: “She left her bungalow at 4th Avenue and Edmonds Street at 7 a.m. She walked down to Sunset Avenue, took in the view and then went over to Main Street. She usually had breakfast at Brownies Café on 4th Avenue. From there she walked various routes. She usually stopped for a cup of coffee at D Drive-In. After a little conversation with the cook and other customers, she was on her way again. Sometime in the afternoon, she usually stopped at the IGA store at 5th and Dayton where she visited with acquaintances. The she walked some more, often well into the night.”
Martha was an accomplished pianist and sometimes played from memory to a noisy crowd at Edmonds West Tavern—a crowd that would sit in silence as Martha would play a complicated piece by Beethoven.
In 1974, Martha fell and broke her hip. She wasn’t even fazed. Soon after leaving the hospital, Martha, with the help of a walker, was out and walking again.

For many years, Martha’s next door neighbor kept an eye on her. At night before she went to bed, Martha waved to her neighbor across the yard and then she pulled the window shade. In the morning, she would raise the shade to let her neighbor know that all was well. On the morning of September 8, 1977, the shade remained closed. At the age of 83, Martha’s walking days were over. She died peacefully in her own bed. Lynnwood’s Floral Hills Funeral Home handled the cremation, and at the request of her son and daughter-in-law, Martha’s ashes were sent to California to be placed next to those of her husband.

Edmonds Tribune-Review, Wednesday, November 30, 1977—“Martha Kraencke; she walked” by Staff Writer, Doug Margeson; with photograph.
New York Passenger Lists – http://search.ancestry.com.
Naturalization papers, Martha Kraencke – www.fold3.com.
Naturalization papers, Fritz Kraencke – www.fold3.com.
Los Angeles Times, December 2, 1947.
Certificate of Death, Fritz Kraencke—State of California, County of Los Angeles.
Social Security Death Record, Martha Kraencke — Washington Digital Archives.
1930 and 1940 U.S. Federal Census Records – Ancestry.com.
Various passenger lists from Ancestry.com.

© 2012 Betty Lou Gaeng, All Rights Reserved; WLP Story #73

Grace Kirwan

By Nellie Robertson
Of all the roles Grace Kirwan has played in her long life, the one she considers most important is that of babysitter for her great-grand niece, named for her. She’s also cared for, in turn, the tot’s two brothers. She reads to them and carries on conversations with them, providing a wonderful start in their young lives.

Her mother, Bertha Shrum, arrived in Monroe in 1903 and her father six years later. A family history of community service began with her great grandfather who served on the town council and her great uncles, also councilmen, one of whom went on to the state senate. Both her great-grandfather and one of his sons served on the town council when the town hall was built in 1908.

Kirwan’s father, Walter Camp, spent time on the town council and was mayor two different times. She followed his footsteps when she served on the council for four years then two terms as mayor of the town that had become a city in the late 1960s.

Camp and his brother, Bert, founded the Camp Brothers Drug Company. When Bert returned to Texas a couple of years later, William Guy Riley joined Camp and the business became the Camp-Riley Drug Company, Monroe’s only pharmacy for a number of years. Both graduated from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy where each earned a doctorate in pharmacy. It was the premier pharmacy school in the nation. Kirwan’s first job was as a soda jerk at the pharmacy’s famous soda fountain. “I stirred the special chocolate sauce from the time it was put on the stove until it cooled,” she recalled. The fresh strawberry topping was made from Marshall strawberries only since they were red all the way through.

The Camps first lived in an apartment in the back of the pharmacy. Kirwan’s older sister was born there. Kirwan joined the family in the house on W. Main Street with a peaked roof across from the Nazarene Church. The family moved to a safer location on S. Blakely after a runaway team of horses crashed through the fence in 1914 while her sister Eileen played in the yard.

The family went back to Texas in 1928 because of Camp’s health but returned to Monroe four years later. Kirwan speaks of her father with the greatest respect and love. “He wanted everyone to get an education. Camp Riley provided scholarships for a number of students.”

Kirwan began her higher education at Texas Women’s University then continued at the College of Puget Sound in Tacoma now the University of Puget Sound in 1934. The college had no library science program so off she went to Texas again where she earned a bachelor of science degree in library science and a bachelor of arts degree in English. She wanted to work in Texas where any school over 200 students had to have a full-time librarian.

With the advent of World War II, Kirwan joined the Navy in 1943. She first attended aviation machinists’ school and became a machinist’s mate third class before being sent to Officer’s Candidate School at Smith College. As an ensign, she was assigned to the Office of Naval Personnel in Washington, D.C. After going on inactive status in January 1946, she retired from the Naval Reserve in 1970 with the rank of lieutenant commander.

In 1945, she married Gerald Kirwan and moved to his home town of Boston for a short period of time before the newlyweds returned to Monroe in 1946. Her husband said it was like the Northeast but king size. He worked as a cost analyst for the Air Force at the Renton Boeing plant.

Prior to that time, Walter Camp urged his wife to take over a ladies’ shop and in 1932, Milady’s Frock Shop was born. Grace Kirwan worked in the shop for 47 years first as a clerk, then manager, and finally as owner in 1961 when her husband died of lung cancer. As the years passed, merchandise turned over faster that spawned innovations in marketing to keep up with the demand. Many valley women shopped at the store and mourned its closure in 1993.

Kirwan received an appointment to the Monroe Library Board in 1950 and according to her entry in Who’s Who, she served on that body for the next 15 years. At the beginning of her tenure, Old City Hall housed the library upstairs. To match a federal grant, library board members and other citizens including Mayor Jack Law went door to door soliciting funds. They garnered enough to build the library at the corner of Hill and Blakely streets. Kirwan successfully urged the board to affiliate with the Sno-Isle Regional Library System.

She recalled the time when two men came to see her at Milady’s Frock Shop urging her to run for city council. “I didn’t really want to, but agreed to try.” She was elected and after serving as a councilwoman for four years, Kirwan’s fellow councilmen appointed her to act as mayor pro tem. Citizens elected her mayor for two terms and she served from 1973 to 1981. The present city hall is named for her. Then police chief, Chuck Nauman, spearheaded the movement. “I felt the police department and the utilities department needed decent places to work,” Kirwan said. “The chief didn’t forget that.”

Along with her other activities, the Public Hospital District No. 1 Board that oversees Valley General Hospital appointed her to serve out Irving Faussett’s term in 1970. After election in her own right, Kirwan served on the board for a total of 20 years, 10 years as chairman. Many improvements and expansions took place at the hospital during those 20 years.

As a world traveler, she’s trod the grounds of Southeast Asia including Fiji, American Samoa, Western Samoa, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Australia. That first tour director and she became good friends. She’s made four trips to Israel. On one of those trips, the tour group followed the route of St. Paul through Greece, Turkey Jordan and Syria. “I was very glad to see the Near East when it was at peace,” she said.

In 1987, she took a trip around the world, first flying to London. On the Orient Express, she passed through Europe and Bulgaria, ferried across the Black Sea, boarded a train and watched Turkey and the lower part of the then USSR pass by her window on her way to China. In all, she’s made five trips into China. Her other itineraries have included Siam (now Thailand), Nepal, a trip down the Amazon River in South America, Pakistan, India, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt. In 1979, she traveled to Iraq where she saw a partial restoration of the Hanging Gardens and the walls of Babylon

On the Latin side, she spent a month in Spain in 1973, went to Morocco and visited the Casbah made famous by actor Charles Boyer. She’s also been to Mexico several times.

“I’ve been to lots of places, but I’m always glad to get back to Monroe. It’s a wonderful place,” she added.

During her younger years, she was an accomplished violinist loving to play on the G string. She performed at assemblies and on the radio. She now keeps her fingers busy knitting caps for Valley General Hospital’s newborns. She also makes altar linen for her church.

One of Kirwan’s greatest contributions to Monroe’s history is her clear memory of people and events out of the past. She compiled photographs of many early buildings in Monroe along with their histories. The Monroe Historical Society received a Malstrom Award from the Snohomish County League of Heritage Organizations for the publication that’s available in the society’s museum and the Monroe Public Library.

Kirwan has continually supported the Monroe Historical Society serving as a board member and hosting at the museum in the past. Not only is she providing an excellent start in life for the little ones but gives meaning and voice to the past.

Resources: Personal interviews &
Who’s Who In Finance and Business – 2004-2005, 34th Edition (pub. 2004)
Who’s Who in America – 2000 – 2006, 54th Edition (pub. 1999)
Who’s Who in the West – 1996-1997, 25th Edition (pub. 1995)
Who’s Who in the World – 2001 – 2004, 21st Edition (pub. 2003)
Who’s Who of American Women – 1989 – 2007, 26th Edition (pub. 2006)
© 2006 Nellie Robertson All Rights Reserved;  Women’s Legacy WLP Story #34

Anna Agnes Maley

Anna Agnes Maley 1872-1918

Anna Agnes Maley, an author, journalist, and lecturer of national reputation, arrived in Everett in September 1911 to become the third editor of the most successful of these papers, The Commonwealth, Washington state’s official Socialist newspaper.   For the rest of the story, please see an updated version in www.historylink.org.

Earlier version published as Women’s Legacy Story # 40

Dorothy Otto Kennedy

Travel the world? Yes!   Supermarket? No Way!

Dorothy Otto Kennedy at 100 years old.

She saw the first automobiles come to Puget Sound, and she witnessed the birth of the Internet. She dined with a sheik in a Cairo nightclub, met aborigines in Australia, saw magnificent waterfalls in South America and enjoyed symphonies in Vienna and Berlin. She talked for hours in Nepal with the Sherpa guide who climbed Mt. Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary. In Tehran she saw the Shah of Iran’s crown jewels. She traveled to every country on earth but Antarctica.  But she never set foot in a grocery store.

Not once. In all her 102 years, Dorothy Otto Kennedy, one of the state’s first female pharmacists, a woman whose family endowed a scholarship and distinguished professorship in her name at Washington State University, never set foot in a supermarket.

Everything she needed – bread, milk, vegetables, ice to keep things cold – was delivered. “Dorothy explained forthrightly, “I never liked to cook so why bother going to the store for fancy foods?”
Dorothy Otto Kennedy at 100 years old.
An articulate, expressive woman with a sweet disposition and ready smile, Dorothy was born July 15, 1895 in Tacoma and moved to Everett when she was five. Her decision to travel to Europe after graduation from Everett High School in 1912 was summarily vetoed by her mother. Dorothy wanted to attend Stanford, but there wasn’t enough money, so she set off for WSU with hopes of becoming a physician. University officials told her flatly that because she was female, there was no way she would be allowed to be a doctor.

“They shuffled me off to pharmacy school,” she said. “There were four women and 35 men, and it was rough right from the start.”

Thanks to hard work, good professors and a head for numbers and equations, Dorothy graduated in 1916 and immediately went to work at a pharmacy in Reardon, and then one in Seattle, always working 15-hour days. After finding out her friend made considerably more managing a major department store, Dorothy began to wonder if a career in pharmacy was worth it.

And so, in 1920, Dorothy went to Harvard to study wholesale merchandising. Graduate work allowed her to travel to stores throughout the east coast. When she got her degree, she was offered a management job at Macy’s. “It was cold, cold, cold, and they wanted me to say four years!” she recalled indignantly. “I said no and went to Baltimore to become personnel manager of a large department store.”

A friend in that city insisted on introducing Dorothy to her cousin, a young lawyer named David Duff Kennedy. Dorothy was not impressed. “I was such an awful tomboy, too busy doing my own thing to pat attention to men,” she said. “I didn’t like anything he said, anything he did, anything about him.” With an impish grin, she added, “But he did have a car.”

Love would find a way and David and Dorothy married in 1922. Five years later they moved to Everett with son Robert in tow. Before long, daughter Mary was born. “Everett was busy, busy, busy,” Dorothy said. “We saw this little old house on Grand Avenue and bought it, thinking we would only be there a couple of years.”

Losing all their money in the 1929 stock market crash ended their plans for a larger home so the Kennedys remained in the little house as Duff, and then Bruce came along. By 1939 it was clear Dorothy would have to return to work. She passed the state exam for license reinstatement and went back to putting in 15-hour days in local drug stores.

World War II brought a shortage of pharmacists and Everett General Hospital asked Dorothy to operate its pharmacy. That meant she had only to run (she never walked) two blocks to work. And, it was only an 8-hour day! She also taught pharmacology at the hospital’s nursing school. She worked alone at General for 22 years until her retirement in 1962, when she was replaced by three people. Her hard work paid off. She put all of her children through Stanford University.
Finally free to travel, Dorothy tried cruises and tours, but eventually flew off to foreign climes on her own schedule, going wherever curiosity took her. “All my men were in the services,” she said proudly, “so I went to visit them.”

Bob was stationed in Taiwan with the Air Force, Duff was in Germany with the Army, and Bruce was sailing up and down the coast of Africa as a Navy doctor. Dorothy went to all those places and beyond, returning to some again and again.

“You have no concept of the size of Africa,” she said. “It’s so beautiful.” She held a smooth stone sculpture in her hands and reminisced about India and the Orient. She spoke of an elephant picking her up by its trunk and of staying with a friend in Greece for several months. She was 86 when she last visited China.

For the last eight years of her life, Dorothy lived independently in an apartment at Washington Oakes, a retirement home that was once Washington Elementary School, the very school all of her children had attended. She kept in touch with people she had met in her travels, went to the opera and the symphony, gardened, played bridge, served as a deacon at First Presbyterian Church in Everett, mentored a group of nurses and had great fun with her family.

When she became nearly blind, she got a computer that greatly magnified print and kept on reading. “I think it’s too bad some older people just sit and don’t have any interests,” she said. “They can keep up on things, on history, on politics. People need to do something, not just sit.”

And with that, Dorothy excused herself to prepare to go out to lunch. She loved going out – as long as it was not to the grocery store!

Sources: Personal interview with Dorothy Otto Kennedy, June 1995

© 1995 Theresa A. (Teri) Baker, All Rights Reserved;  WLP Story # 45