BIGS Business

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Laura Dawson
Sue Elfving
Sue Hassenmiller
Sylvia Nelson

A Team Effort

You’ve often heard the old saying, “Many hands make light work.” Well, a group of four intrepid BIGS members proved that last week.

Within the space of two weeks, start-to-finish, they designed and created a new display for the Bainbridge Island Library’s Display Case. The display features DNA and celebrates Family History Month.

When you enter the library you can’t miss the display since it dominates the foyer area. Do stop by and take a look. And, when you see them, thank these volunteers for making it happen.

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Sue Two

Sue Hassenmiller

Co-Director Membership

Where did you grow up, what led you to this area, and when did you arrive?

The windy city is my home town along with summers on my grandmother’s farm in Northern Wisconsin. In 1966, I moved to Seattle with my former husband who worked for the National Labor Relations Board. Later we moved to Bainbridge Island.

In your working life, what kind of things did you do?

After finishing my accounting degree, I worked either as an accountant or auditor for the Navy or various companies.

Describe your current living situation and free time interests other than genealogy.

I live with my husband, Ken and cat, Sophie in the central part of the island. When I am not hunting for ancestors, I enjoy gardening, cooking and reading. I also love to research and plan trips to interesting places; especially to places where my ancestors lived.

When and how did you get involved with genealogy and what has been most important to you?

I was always interested in family stories but really started doing genealogy research when I met my current husband and moved into his house in Hawthorne Hills, Seattle, which overlooked the National Archives. I joined the Seattle Genealogical Society and learned how to locate and research records in the days before computers. I continued researching and learning the new techniques of online research and DNA testing. Combining my love of travel and the desire to locate and visit all the places my ancestors lived, has been an interesting journey.

Tell us when and why you got involved with BIGS and a little about your history with the organization.

I worked with the group that formed and started the Bainbridge Genealogical Society. Whenever my work life has permitted it, I have held a Board position, mostly as the Treasurer and now as co-chair of the membership committee.

What has been satisfying about being a board member?

As a founding member of BIGS, I wanted to see the organization continue to grow and be a source of knowledge and support for all who are researching their families. Being on the Board, and working with the other members of the Board, both past and present, plus other members, has given me the opportunity to help keep BIGS going, especially during the pandemic. Forming long-term friendships with the members assures me to always have someone to discuss genealogy.

What have you learned from being on the board?

It takes a lot of work to keep the organization viable, not only arranging for speakers, meetings, etc. but finding out what our members want or need to know, even without getting as much feedback as the Board needs.

Tell us something about yourself that others might find surprising.

Science Fiction has been my favorite reading material since the day I got my first library card. So naturally, I fell in love with Star Trek. With my friend, Joanne Reese, we attended a number of Star Trek conventions on the West Coast, which gave us a chance to meet the stars several times

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A Note from the President

At the September Program Meeting, I had the pleasure of presenting the “Outstanding Volunteer Award” from Washington State Genealogical Society to two of our volunteers in recognition of their contributions of skill, time and energy. This year’s recipients were Lori Gibson and Joleen Aitchison.

Lori Gibson has been BIGS Website Administrator since 2016, and has led us through two separate website “refreshes” and updates. She helped integrate our monthly newsletter onto the website, and made PayPal work for us. Lori is also a member of our Hybrid Meeting Team, assisting us in coordinating in-person and on-Zoom participation at our monthly meetings.

Joleen Aitchison’s involvement with BIGS began in 2013 when, as director of the Family History Center in Poulsbo, she offered a presentation at our monthly meeting, and became a member. Since then, she has served as a mentor, newsletter editor, SIG leader, board member – the list goes on. Joleen is a valuable resource to our members because of her skills in traditional genealogy as well as genealogical DNA.

BIGS is only possible because of volunteers like Lori and Joleen. We rely on the willingness of our members to share their skills and interests in order to pursue BIGS’ goal of promoting genealogical research and education. There are many ways to help BIGS thrive, from writing up a family story to serving on the board! We would love to talk to you about the possibilities you might consider. Just ask!

Thank you,

Andy Hoskins, President

Outstanding Volunteer Joleen Aitchison

Outstanding Volunteer Lori Gibson

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Would You Like Some One-On-One Help?

As a BIGS member, you are eligible for a “consultation” with an experienced member about a genealogy problem or issue. For example, you might want a coach to review your work to offer ideas on next steps or to review your conclusions to see if they make sense. You might want help deciding whether or not to do a DNA test and which one is best suited for you. You might want help analyzing DNA matches to identify next steps.

To ask for help, simply contact Education Chair Betty Wiese ( to start the process. You and your “coach/mentor” will work out when and where to meet. Most consultations last 1 ½-2 hours, perhaps with some follow up.

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Photos from...

BIGS at the Beach!

Friday, August 18

Once again, a very good time was had by all! 

This time at Fay Bainbridge Park

These photographs are courtesy of Chuck Eklund. 

(Photos will change automatically every few seconds)

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