Noedel Reuse

BIGS is looking for more volunteers to help with all aspects of the organization. Benefits of volunteering include learning new skills from other members, sharing your genealogy experiences with others genuinely interested in what you have learned, and knowing that you have helped vitalize our organization.

Volunteer Information

We have a great variety of jobs available for volunteers. What you might do for BIGS all depends on your skills and experiences, how deeply you’d be willing to become involved, and exactly what kinds of things interest you. You can pick and chose from many options, such as these examples:

If you are interested in exploring how you might help, please drop a note to our president, Andrea Hoskins, with your contact information. After a conversation with her about your interests and our needs, you can decide just how you’d like to help.

Website Team Member

(Training will be provided)

We are looking for someone to join our current website team of four. The right person would be interested in learning how to post material to the site using software designed for that purpose. If you are interested in learning more about helping BIGS in this way, drop us a note here.

Writers' Workshop

Thursday, January 26 @ 10AM

Zoom Virtual Event

Hiatus through the Fall Holiday season. Resuming in January 2023. The January meeting will be a great opportunity for members to join our group and help map out our focus for the coming year. Watch for details in early January.

BIGS Buys Books!

Thanks to a donation from BIGS, the Bainbridge Island Public Library is now the proud owner of four new books on genealogy DNA.

  • Your DNA Guide – the Book, Southard
  • Advanced Genetic Genealogy: Techniques/Case Studies, Wayne
  • Research Like a Pro with DNA, Elder
  • DNA and Genealogy Research Simplified, Szabados

In addition, the Bainbridge Island genealogy section is about to benefit from seven new titles obtained by the Kitsap Regional Library, who operates the Bainbridge Public Library in addition to eight other public libraries in this area. Those new titles have been ordered and are expected on the shelves in the next several weeks.

Andy with books
Four new books

This happened because of our continuing efforts to partner with the Bainbridge Island Public Library, where we have met for many years. The particular books selected were the result of recommendations made by several of our members. Special thanks to Mary Ferm, Joleen Aitchison, Claire Smith, and Holly Ardinger.

Hopefully, members will find topics of interest and value to their research in this new collection. Please recognize that while these titles will be homed at the Bainbridge Library, they are available to KRL library card holders system-wide. You can easily access them by going online to, searching in the catalog, and then putting a hold on the title of your choice. You will be informed when the book is available and you can pick it up quickly at your convenience at the Bainbridge Library.

And, please consider writing a brief review of any of these books that you read, so we can post it on Members’ Corner right here on

Great Britain

Friday, April 7 @ 10AM

Venue to be determined

The meeting will be held at the Marge Williams Center, 221 Winslow Way West. We will open with a discussion of RootsTech 2023 items which will be of particular interest to GB researchers. For more details see email sent to all members via bigs@googlegroups.

As always, all BIGs members interested in Welsh, Scottish, English research/ancestors please join for sharing and conversation. (We often stray into all kinds of other topics, so feel free to check it out!) The Zoom link will be emailed to all BIGS members.

The Outreach Committee Needs Your Help!

Here’s your chance to “give back to BIGS.” We are in the process of developing a presentation aimed at the general public to answer the question, “Why Genealogy?” We need some members willing to tell an audience what genealogy has meant to them, in 10 minutes or less. This has nothing to do with genealogy expertise. It just involves telling the story of what you’ve gotten out of your experience with genealogy.

Outreach Presentation

We need to tell people why they should consider getting involved with genealogy. The future of our organization and others like it depends on it. And, nobody could do that job better than YOU!

Think about it. You’ve gotten something valuable out of the time and effort you have put into genealogy. We’re just asking you to tell other folks what that something is. Why didn’t you stop long ago? Why did you go to all those meetings? Why do you continue to support the organization? That’s your story and only you can tell it. Maybe you got involved to find the answer to one specific question. Maybe you found solving the genealogical puzzles irresistible. Maybe you found friendships and community among others involved with genealogy. We do know that something made it worth your while.

So, exactly what are we asking you to do? Two things:

  1. Work with the Outreach Committee to develop a 10 minute “presentation” of your story. The form is up to you. It could employ photos, or PowerPoint slides, or just you telling your story. We’ll help you put your talk together if you want help.
  2. Then, perhaps 2 or 3 times a year, we’ll ask you to tell your story, alongside 3 other members, to a meeting of library patrons, service organizations, or other such groups.

At this early stage in developing this program, we are simply asking you to indicate your interest in participating. If we have 6-8 interested members, we’ll get together and work out a plan to proceed to the next steps. At this point we are targeting sometime in April for our first presentation.

If you are willing to consider helping BIGS with this project, just drop me an email here.

Thank you!

Larry Noedel, Outreach

Special EVENING Meeting for BIGS Members

Wednesday, February 15 @ 7PM

Zoom Virtual Event

Facilitated by Betty Wiese

Family History Resolutions in February?

Might setting annual “My Genealogy Resolutions” in February instead of January make any difference in whether you achieve them?

Would you like some ideas about What to work on? How to learn more about doing family history? How to get support from BIGS or other resources? If you answer yes to any of these questions, come to a special meeting (via Zoom) for BIGS members on Wednesday evening February 15th from 7:00 to 8:30 pm.

Zoom link will be sent to members via email.

More New Genealogy Books!

If you had a chance to read the recent item about the books that BIGS acquired for the Bainbridge Island Public Library, you might recall that the Kitsap Regional Library was planning to add another seven new titles. Well, they have arrived and are on the genealogy shelf!
  • DNA Guide for Adoptees, by Brianne Kirkpatrick and Shannon Combs-Bennett
  • Creating Family Archives, by Margaret Note
  • Professional Genealogy, by Elizabeth Shown Mills
  • Genealogy and the Law, by Kay and William Freilich
  • Now Pocket Guide for Irish Genealogy, by Brian Mitchell
  • Tracing Your Irish Ancestors through Land Records, by Chris Paton
  • A to Zax: A Comprehensive Dictionary for Genealogists, by Barbara Jean Evans

So, stop by the library, or better yet go online to, search the catalog, and put a hold on the title of your choice. You will be informed when the book is available and you can pick it up quickly at your convenience at the Bainbridge Library.

And, again, please consider writing a brief review of any of these books that you read, so we can post it on Members’ Corner right here on

Let's Talk!

Let's Talk! BIGS Problem Workshop

Friday, April 14 @ 10AM. In-person at the Marge Williams Center

(Directions to the meeting room and parking information will be sent to all members by email.)

No agenda. No presentation. Very informal workshop-style discussions about members’ problems or issues. BIGS members only. A few with with advanced experience will be on hand to help with questions/problems.

Drop in and join the conversation!




TreeBuilder is our newest outreach program, provided in partnership with the Kitsap Regional Library. With it, we offer genealogy help to anyone in our area who requests it. Whether experienced or brand new to genealogy, all skill levels are welcomed. TreeBuilder sessions are scheduled to meet every fourth Monday, 7-8:30 PM, March through November at the Bainbridge Public Library.

The foundation of the program, originally called Genealogy Q&A, was launched late in 2019. Unfortunately, after our fourth monthly session, in early 2020, Covid closed the Bainbridge Library.

We moved the program online and continued to offer our outreach service on Zoom, awaiting the time we could return to in-person evening meetings at the library. Last week we learned that we would be able to re-start on March 27. This time under the new name, TreeBuilder, which we think better describes the program. We will continue to offer help online to any who would prefer that option.

One of the most important aspects of our partnership with KRL is their ability to publicize the program. TreeBuilder will appear monthly in the KRL online calendar, in their print publication Inspire, and on flyers and other material not only in the Bainbridge Public Library, but also in the other eight libraries that make up KRL.

Check out our description of this program in the Events section of this website here. You’ll note that BIGS members will be doing the helping. And, you do not have to be a genealogy expert to help. Any BIGS member can encourage a beginner to get started and, more importantly, demonstrate that you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy genealogy. If you are interested in joining your fellow members at some future session, please let me know here. We would be happy to have your help!

Larry Noedel, Vice-President

All About TreeBuilder

TreeBuilder is our newest outreach program, provided in partnership with the Kitsap Regional Library. With it, we offer genealogy help to anyone in our area who requests it. Whether experienced or brand new to genealogy, all skill levels are welcomed. TreeBuilder sessions are scheduled to meet every fourth Monday, 7-8:30 PM, March through November at the Bainbridge Public Library.

Flyer Poster

Put up 6-8 Monthly Meeting flyers that we will create at key Bainbridge Island locations (T&C, Senior Center, etc.) No more than an hour and a half one day a month. If you are interested in learning more, drop us a note here.


Larry Noedel

Vice President, Communications

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

I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, where I lived until 1989 when I came to Bainbridge Island to start a new business with a former business associate who lived on the island.

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

My career was split between advertising agencies and a marketing and consumer research firm. I had many different roles over the years, including departmental and organizational management, strategic planning, and consumer research planning and implementation.

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

My wife of 62 years died in 2020 and since then I’ve been involved with learning to live on my own. I’m happily independent, doing my own cooking, housekeeping, and yard maintenance. My free time interests are local hiking, reading, and music (I learned to play the accordion at an early age and have taken it up again for my own amusement).

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

My interest in family history began in 2017 when I discovered my original birth certificate. It led me, as an adoptee, to discover my birth parents and to identify and form ever deepening relationships with their descendants, most importantly my recently found sister. Learning my biological roots has made a deep impact on my life.

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

In 2018, I joined BIGS to learn how to do genealogy properly. I was asked to join the outreach committee in 2019 and eventually became committee chair. When one of the board members had to resign in 2020, I took over the unexpired term and became responsible for publicity. Since then, I have moved to the communications chair.

What has been satisfying about being a board member?

My continuing satisfaction from being on the board has been to work together with an excellent team of individuals, (who I now think of as friends), in an informal atmosphere, toward the clear goal of moving the organization into the future. I feel that my contributions have been a kind of an extension of my working experiences, particularly in planning, promotion, and research activities.

What have you learned from being on the board?

What have I learned? That being on the board is personally rewarding work. That the most important prerequisites have nothing to do with genealogy. That anyone, from nearly any background, who wants to help make BIGS relevant in members’ lives today and tomorrow can help by volunteering for a limited job, or by serving on the board.

Tell us something about yourself that others might find surprising.

After graduating from high school, I spent half the summer playing in a hotel lounge in Charlevoix, Michigan. I and a couple of friends had formed a band when we were juniors in high school. Through my first years of college, we played dances, parties, weddings, and a few night clubs with 1940’s-50’s jazz, blues, and standards. I played keyboard.


IMG_1445 (002)

Holly Ardinger


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

I was born in Iowa City and my family settled in Des Moines, IA when I was in 3rd grade. I moved back and forth between California and Iowa for college, medical school, internship, and residency training and along the way met my husband (a native Californian), had two sons (born in Iowa City, an apparent family nesting place) and a career in the Kansas City area before moving to Bainbridge Island in the fall of 2016 to be close to our two grandchildren who live in Seattle.

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

I had an interesting and challenging career as a pediatric geneticist at a large children’s hospital. I evaluated infants and children for the purpose of diagnosing a genetic disorder. Working closely with genetic counselors and other specialists, we had to choose the correct genetic testing, review the results, and provide genetic counseling to families. Early on, there was very little genetic testing available so that diagnosis depended on recognizing patterns of differences in an individual that defined a particular disorder. Throughout my work life, I taught medical students, residents, and other physicians about genetics in medicine and towards the end of my career I worked as an editor for an online clinical genetics resource for health care professionals through the University of Washington (GeneReviews).

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

I live on Bainbridge Island with my husband of 41 years, Robert (a retired pediatric cardiologist), and our eight-month-old Bernedoodle puppy, Abby, who is the littermate of our grandchildren’s dog. I like to do lots of walking, coffee drinking, reading (especially mystery novels) and hanging out with our grandchildren. My husband took up the banjo in retirement, so I listen to a lot of banjo music these days when he practices. As we are new to this region, I am trying to learn to identify the local birds, trees, and flowers. 

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

As part of my work as a pediatric geneticist, I collected family history information and drew pedigrees for each patient. It dawned on me that I should do the same for my own family and in the early 1990s I began researching. I was lucky to be in Kansas City where there was a branch of the National Archives as well as three local genealogy libraries in which to search (this was before there were online records of any kind).  My husband and I were fortunate to have paternal grandmothers who were alive and willing to share lots of family information and photos to give me a good start. I love the thrill of the hunt for information and also trying to understand how the family structure or location may have influenced the decisions or pathways taken by individual members.

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

When we lived in the Kansas City area, I had tried a couple of times to get involved with the local genealogy group, but work hours and our sons’ school activities made that difficult to do with any regularity. Before we moved to BI, I had found BIGS online and once we were settled in, I joined right away.  I found that I was learning something from every speaker and especially enjoyed the Evening Discussion Group that met once a month to help solve each other’s mysteries or celebrate new findings. I liked the people I met and felt like I had found my “tribe”. I wanted to provide behind-the-scenes support as a way of giving back so volunteered to run for secretary.

What has been satisfying about being a board member?

I’ve enjoyed getting to know other board members and also being able to help BIGS stay as a useful and functional organization.  As a board member, I feel more connected to BIGS than I felt before being on the board.

What have you learned from being on the board?

I have learned that there are many ways to approach a challenge and that individuals bring all sorts of experience to the table which may be different than my own. Advanced knowledge of genealogy is definitely not a prerequisite to being on the board, but good humor and attention to detail are valuable attributes!

Tell us something about yourself that others might find surprising.

I am just finishing my second year of Italian language classes. Although I have no Italian heritage, I love the language (it sounds so musical to me) and hope to use it when we travel to Italy again (where I love the art, the food, and the people!)


Looking for a way to visualize your genealogy? Dead Fred may be able to help you. This is a free photo genealogy site hoping to reunite photos with their families. The tone of the site is light-hearted, but don’t be fooled! Their database includes almost 23,000 surnames and over 154,000 records.  There are FAQs that are truly helpful. Whether you find your family, or not, it’s a great site to explore.


Susie Wood


20230112 Susan Uganda headshot (002)


Susie lives in the Hidden Cove area with her husband, Orville, son Jayden, 17, and George, their 18-pound cat. Her eldest son, Donyea, 19, has recently flown the nest. Susie and her ancestors are long-time Western Washington residents. Susie and her family moved from Harstine Island to Bainbridge Island in 2011 when Orville got a job with the Washington State Ferries.

In addition to being a homemaker, Susie has worked an amazing variety of jobs. She has been a cake decorator, worked behind the counter of a meat market, a keypunch operator, a school bus driver, a tour guide, and a massage therapist. As a tour guide, she took Holland America cruise passengers on overnight tours of Lake Louise and surrounding areas in Banff National Park.

Some of the family’s most enjoyable free time is spent on their 1981 Hardin 45. (That’s a large sailboat for any landlubbers.) In the summer, they cruise all over the Puget Sound and the coast of Canada.

Genealogy and BIGS

Susie’s interest in genealogy began in 1995 when she realized that she knew very little about her great grandparents, particularly her great grandmother Sarah. Her first real experience using genealogy to find the answers she sought was when she spent time with a friend at the LDS library in Salt Lake City. Not the typical place to start. Nevertheless, there she found some of her Wood ancestors pictured in a photo from a collection of Pioneers of Coos County, Oregon, and her lifelong quest was on. In 2018, a passerby stopped her car in front of Susie’s house and asked for directions. Susie being Susie, the conversation soon broadened to genealogy and the driver, our own Patty Johns, told Susie about BIGS and invited her to a meeting. She joined us shortly after.


Susie quickly got involved as a volunteer because she was looking for a worthwhile change of pace from the full-time job of running a household with a couple of rambunctious young boys. She first volunteered to work on the BIGS 2019 Family History Month project. Later she helped create the Family History Month library display window, which led to volunteering for Genealogy Q&A, and a spot on the Outreach Committee. More recently, she’s added helping with the posting of information on the website.

Volunteering has allowed Susie to get to really know those she has worked with. Further, she feels that her coworkers have really gotten to know her. The result is a mutual admiration society. Susie says that she “has found a group of new great friends.” And, equally important, “that she has been understood and accepted for who she really is.” When asked why she thinks others should consider volunteering, Susie wisely said, “Many hands make light work.” (Editor’s note: Maybe we need to put that on a T-Shirt?)

A Surprising Fact

As if decorating cakes, filling meat orders, operating keypunch machinery, driving school buses, and guiding tours in Canada weren’t surprising enough: Once, on an impulse, Susie and a girlfriend decided that since they both always wanted to see China, they should just do it. In 1985 they just did it and walked the Great Wall together.


If you had a chance to hear or read my annual report last month, you are aware that your Board is making an effort to increase the volunteer base for our organization. In order to do this, we are trying to connect with our members and to get to know you better. We also want you to learn more about your Board and how BIGS functions. To this end, we are currently spotlighting our current volunteers and offering profiles of our board members here on our website, as well as posting volunteer opportunities.

We are also looking for opportunities for informal, small group conversations with our members – perhaps a coffee date if you live nearby, or a Zoom conversation if you don’t.  These conversations can give you a chance to talk about how well BIGS is meeting your needs and any suggestions you might have. Board members can share more about our plans for developing our volunteer base in general, and which specific volunteer roles we currently need to fill.

We hope that, through this process, some of you will find a comfortable spot for volunteering. We know that not all of you have the time or interest in volunteering. But if there are a few of you that we can match up with one of our many volunteer roles, it will make a big difference to the vitality of our organization and that of our current volunteers!

Please consider taking the time to join the conversation when the opportunity arises. We want to hear from you!

Thank you,

Andy Hoskins