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.


Last April, I shared with the membership the Board’s plan to focus our efforts on building our volunteer base, finding interested members willing to share their skills and help with a variety of tasks. Since then, your Board has been meeting with individual members as well as groups of members, creating opportunities for the Board to get to know our members better, to listen to your input and answer your questions. We have also given members the chance to get to know the Board members better. I hope you have taken a look at the volunteer “spotlight” as well as the profiles of our Board of Directors, here on this website.

At our June board meeting, we made a decision to see if we could identify BIGS members who would be interested in filling the open positions we have on the Board, working as Interim Directors until our next election in April. This way, a member can see on the Board functions, work in an area that they are particularly interested in, and decide if they would be willing to put their name on the ballot at our next election. You do not need to be an experienced genealogist to serve on the board. Please let us know if you would like to attend a board meeting; we would love to see you there.

I am pleased to announce that at our August meeting, Susie Wood was appointed to the Board as an Interim Director; she will be assisting with our Outreach efforts.

By the way, our Outreach efforts do pay off! The monthly BIGS TreeBuilder sessions, held in the evening at the Bainbridge Library, has been an effective way to introduce people to BIGS and the fun of the hunt for ancestors. Several of our newest members have connected with BIGS through TreeBuilder. Both members and non-members are invited to these sessions. Consider bringing a friend along, and you both can get help whatever your skill level.

In our efforts to acknowledge the work of our volunteers, the Board has submitted the names of two of our most active volunteers to receive the Washington State Genealogical Society’s Outstanding Volunteer Award. We will be presenting the awards at our Monthly Meeting on September 15th. Be sure to Join us then in recognizing two of the people that help make BIGS possible.

Thank you,

Andy Hoskins, President

Next Monthly Meeting

Please join us a the big BIGS


Friday, June 16 @ 10AM

In-person at the Island Center Hall

(8395 Fletcher Bay Road, between High School & New Brooklyn)

Bring an antique or a family heirloom and share the story of that keepsake with the group. This could include jewelry, photographs, clothing, quilts, linens, china, bibles, you name it. If your treasure is too delicate or large, bring a photograph of it.


Or you might bring a soon-to-be antique. Maybe you have made something, taken a special photo, or produced a family tree that you can share with us?


Bring bite-sized sweet or savory finger food if you’d like to share. BIGS will provide sparkling cider for us to toast our genealogy work and BIGS friends.


But most important of all… Bring yourself – with or without food and treasures. We’ll be happy to see you.

We want to share our love of genealogy with you.

Everyone Welcome

No membership necessary.

Next Monthly Meeting

Please join us a the big BIGS


Friday, June 16 @ 10AM

In-person at the Island Center Hall

(8395 Fletcher Bay Road, between High School & New Brooklyn)

Do you have a family heirloom, an antique or a soon-to-be antique,  with a story to tell? Bring your treasure (or a picture of it) and be prepared to tell a bit about it. Or, just come and hear our members  share stories of their family keepsakes and their love of  genealogy.

Everyone Welcome!

No Membership required.

Friday Forum

(Formerly Skill SIG)

Friday, June 23 @ 10AM on Zoom

Getting the most from your FamilySearch and Ancestry record searches.

Facilitators: Joleen Aitchison and David Cosman

Joleen and David will share features for records searching in Familysearch and Ancestry databases (and potentially My Heritage).  There will be time for questions. If you have specific questions you would like them to include, please send your questions to Betty Wiese by June 9, 2023. 

The Zoom link will be emailed to all BIGS members before the meeting.

BIGS Business / BIGS Business / BIGS Business / BIGS Business

Photos from the...


Friday, June 16 @ 10AM

A very good time was had by all! 

These photographs, from what may have been the First Annual Antiques Roadshow, are courtesy of Chuck Eklund. 

(Photos will change automatically every few seconds)

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)

In Appreciation...

At our May TreeBuilder session at the Bainbridge Library, Larry Noedel and I had the pleasure of awarding Tressa Johnson, KRL Librarian, an honorary membership in BIGS, along with an engraved jade glass paperweight inscribed to her, with our gratitude. Tressa has been a valuable partner in planning and an enthusiastic supporter of BIGS for several years now in her role as adult services librarian here on Bainbridge. Thank you, Tressa!

~Andrea Hoskins

Book Reviews

Click to view

Member Stories

Navy Chaplain David C. Newquist

Occupation Troops in Japan November 1945-July 1946

Submitted by Sharon Soames

WWII was in full bloom. In 1944, while the United States, Great Britain, and Allied forces battled against both the Nazi Regime in Europe and Africa, and the Imperial forces of Japan in the Pacific Islands, David Clemens Newquist poured into his last year of post graduate studies at Princeton Theological Seminary, in New Jersey. The son of 1907 Swedish immigrant parents, Arvid and Hannah Newquist, and graduate of UCLA as a history major,” Bud”, his home moniker, wrestled between following a path to Hollywood in theatrics or answering a call to the ministry. Henrietta Mears, who impactfully influenced and trained many college men for Christian ministry at Hollywood Presbyterian Church, enthusiastically “nudged” Bud toward his calling just as she had done for Billy Graham and Bill Bright who later founded Campus Crusade for Christ. Upon graduation from Princeton, Bud returned home to Burbank, California and was ordained as a Christian minister at the First Baptist Church of Burbank. With his education complete, he felt the call of duty to serve in the United States military as a Navy Chaplain.

On July 12, 1944 Rev. David C. Newquist entered the military and began training at the Navy Chaplaincy School at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The program cooperated with Navy protocol, rules, and regulations but established no Navy form of worship. This allowed all chaplains to practice and serve all men of all faiths without compromising his beliefs. Chaplains were to bring “God to the men and men to God” as well as to deal with all the stresses and ramifications of war on a service man’s psyche – his soul, mind, spirit, emotions, and as later was added to the list, his propensity to satisfy his sexual appetites. Chaplain Newquist was detached from his chaplaincy training on October 23 and transferred to Camp Lejeune, a United States Marines military training facility in Jacksonville, N. Carolina on November 2, 1944 at a time when a shift in the tide of the war favored the Allies. By May 8, 1945 the Allies had defeated Hitler and celebrations of VE Day (Victory in Europe) were held all around the world. Now the focus was all on the war in the Pacific lead by General Douglas MacArthur.

Beside his responsibilities on base, Chaplain Newquist would on occasion do pulpit supply for the First Baptist Church in Jacksonville. On Mothers’ Day Sunday, all the young charming coquettes sat in the chapel with their hand fans waving against the heat and their eyelashes fluttering at the handsome and studly chaplain in his dress white uniform in the pulpit addressing the congregation. One very charming yet coy, very lovely to behold southern belle of eighteen years in the front row of the choir, rose to sing a song of honor for the mothers. Now it was the chaplain who couldn’t divert his eyes from this beauty accelerating his heart beat. Little did he know she was the daughter of the Superintendent of the Jacksonville State prison, Captain Willis Ray Johnson, who had a gangster stare and no-nonsense demeanor. What Bud gazed upon, however, was the gentle and demure, representation of her mother, Agnes, who was soft as a marshmallow and just as sweet but strong in spirit and in her Christian faith.

Pictured: Bettie Ruth Johnson and her parents: Captain Willis Ray & Agnes Johnson 

Chaplain Newquist was eight years her senior. He sought to woo Bettie Ruth Johnson by asking her to play the piano for his services on the base. The two had a bonafide courtship and found true love that Captain Johnson did not sanction. Bud had to fight to establish himself as a suitable match for the Captain’s daughter, but Cap’n Johnson told Bettie not to see him any more.  Then the bomb dropped. Not in Jacksonville, but in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan on August 6 and 9, 1945 followed by the surrender of the Japanese on August 15, 1945. WWII at last was over. Camp Lejeune was astir with preparations as the 2nd and 6th Marines were to be deployed to Japan with the occupation troops. Bettie knew he was leaving, yet no proposal. He left her sad and confused at the end of August heading back to Burbank to visit his folks before he left for Japan.

Bettie worked at the Onslow County Hospital at the telephone switch board. A light blinked on an incoming call on a line that Bettie had reserved just for Bud. Now 2,315 miles apart, her heart cartwheeled as she answered. The voice on the line said, “Bettie, will you marry me?” Now he asks me! “Of course, I will!” But Bud needed to honor his parents by sharing in person his intentions to marry to his folks before asking Bettie. A couple days later Bettie found herself and hundreds of military personnel traveling by train west to southern California, Bettie to be married, the Marines to ship out. She spent much of the trip sitting in the women’s restroom to avoid all the ogling and attempts to cozy up. She was a young thing, never been away from home before, traveling off to get married where the only person she knew was Bud. She was a stranger at her own wedding which took place September 4, 1945 at the Swedish Mission Covenant Church in Los Angeles. They honeymooned at Lake Arrowhead, visited the redwood forests, and hung around San Francisco where Bud would leave from Alamada on the USS Hornet aircraft carrier. On the 18th he did just that. First destination, Honolulu, Hawaii. This began a 10-month period of lover letters flying back and forth over the Pacific Ocean nearly one a day each. Bettie stayed with Bud’s family until January 1946 and then spent the rest of the time of Bud’s deployment back in Jacksonville, just too lonesome. A new bride, abandoned. 

Bud left Honolulu for Tokyo, Japan on November 2nd, 1945. Nothing could prepare one for the visualization of the destruction in Nagasaki where Chaplain Newquist and the 2nd and 6th Marines were stationed for some time, walking the destroyed streets, seeing the aimless, defeated citizens, and exposing themselves to residual radiation from the atomic bomb. The air reeked a stench of death and decay and feces.

Since all letters and communications were censored by MacArthur so as not to besmirch the honor of the Americans for such a horrific act, what was allowed to be said in letters home was in many ways abbreviated or in private code words created by the authors. Only years later in the 1990s, when gag orders were lifted, did much of the true details become public. Such was the case for Chaplain Newquist who told Bettie in his letters banal, ordinary reports of daily activities, things that seemed hardly noteworthy, but in reality, had a backstory full of intrigue.  I stumbled upon one such backstory as I read two different history books seeking ancillary information about chaplains and the occupation of Japan. By happenstance, details of significant events that Chaplain Newquist had mentioned in his letters just jumped off the page and gave the true picture of what was really happening by filling in the blanks of the true story. There in front of me was my father’s name and a full account of a major event left out due to censorship. One book was “Marine Chaplain 1943-1946” written by Chaplain George W. Wickersham in 2013 (pages 281-283) and the other “The Allied Occupation of Japan” written by Takemae Eifi and translated from Japanese in 2002.  Let the truth be told! How grateful I was to find these books by Googling words such as “Chaplains in WWII”, “Navy Chaplains’ school” and “the US occupation of Japan.” How even more grateful I am to have had parents (dad a history major) whose saved pictures, letters and newspaper clippings provided an understanding of life in the military in a conquered and destroyed country and the life of those left behind. I also searched the archives at various newspapers where I found supporting information.

From Bud’s letter December 19, 1945 Nagasaki – “I was summoned to Chaplain Marken’s office where I was informed that I would be replacing Chaplain Brubaker who left to return to the States. In three days, I will be transferred to Sasebo to become Regimental Chaplain of the 6th Marines. This sounds important but means nothing since there is only one or two other chaplains left in the regiment.”

In another letter, Bud mentioned that they had a chaplain’s meeting regarding prostitution which he anticipated would stir up a hornets’ nest with the military brass. In several other letters he mentioned that his responsibilities had been extended to holding meetings with the men in regards to venereal disease.  These were very innocuous comments bland enough not to get censored and in no way exposing the backstory behind the information. And now for the rest of the story…..

Reading between the lines and filling in the blanks from Bud’s report uncovers a Pandora’s box containing a can of worms! Let’s start with “karayuki-san” – comfort women. Imperial Japanese troops had conscripted and raped “comfort women” to service their own sexual appetites as they overran China and other places and were well known for their horrific treatment of women. Knowing the rampageous sexual mistreatment of women in their own Japanese military, they expected the same of the Americans. They believed that establishing government sponsored houses of prostitution in Japan was a protective measure against the rape of Japanese women that they fully expected of the conquering Americans and other Allied Occupation forces, who were “satans and savages.” These brothels or sexual comfort stations established to satisfy the lusts of the occupation forces were named “RAAs” or Recreation and Amusement Associations. To staff the RAAs, women of “lesser status” were recruited (also coerced and tricked) under the guise that the service was a patriotic act, an emergency measure implemented in the name of national security. Recruitment focused on bar hostesses, prostitutes, war widows, the homeless, high school girls formerly drafted for factory labor during the war, and even geishas. It was a way for the women to make money in desperate times. Eventually, 70,000 women “volunteered” to work in the state-run sex industry burgeoning to 300,000 over time. Some of these women had other jobs and also worked at GHQs, (General Headquarters), as receptionists and typists. 

Clients of the RAA’s (“panpan”) prostitutes, were not just the lower ranking service men. By the end of the year in 1945, venereal diseases had become rampant. 90% of the sex workers reportedly were infected by the carriers, the customers. GHQ set up prophylactic and clean-up stations outside the RAAs in a futile attempt to stem the venereal disease. The photo on the left is of sailors visiting an RAA in Yokahama. The charge to the soldier (only occupation forces were admitted) was the equivalent of eight cents, and that included a bottle of beer. Half the take went to the woman and half to the house.

In Bud’s letter to Bettie – “We had a chaplains’ meeting regarding prostitution which I believe will stir up a hornets’ nest with the military brass.”

Backstory:  The Chaplains’ meeting regarding prostitution resulted in a two-page official letter. The subject of the letter was “Prostitution Districts, possible opening of, either officially or unofficially in the Nagasaki area.”  The letter was sent to the 2nd & 6th Division Chaplain challenging the General Headquarter’s, (GHQ) meaning General MacArthur’s, consideration of removing the restriction for the occupation troops to visit the houses of prostitution that the Japanese had rapidly established after the surrender to accommodate the needs of the occupiers. These houses had been tacitly approved by GHQ.

Pictured: Far left, “Windy” Brock, center, David C. Newquist, right, McShane.

The two-page letter was composed and signed by all of the Second Marine Division Chaplains in the Nagasaki area except for the Division Chaplain to whom the letter was presented and who bore the heavy burden of delivering it to Headquarters. These chaplains, all United States Navy Reserve, included Brubaker, Costello, Lutz, Donahoe, Cooper, Ahern, Cusak, Stovall, Newquist, and McShane.

Reference was made to “United States Navy Regulations Article I. Article I states that the moral and spiritual welfare of his men shall always be the responsibility of every commanding officer. These “Navy Regs,” taught to these men during their chaplaincy training were commonly known in the Navy as “The Book” and carried almost Biblical authority. So these ten “Chaplains for Chastity,” (“CFC”, my term) had thrown the gauntlet!

The CFC presented six position statements:

1. MacArthur receives the letter. 2. They considered ACCs to be counter to Article I. 3. To consider only venereal disease a hazard and disregard morality was regrettable. 4. To designate brothels without publishing the orders was dishonest. 5. To excuse prostitution on the basis of poor morale in the Division was to sidestep the need for more wholesome recreational and educational programs together with more considerate treatment of individuals, and 6. That if prostitution was to be approved either officially or tacitly, the signing Chaplains would submit their letters to the Bureau of Naval Personnel requesting transfer due to Division policy which in their opinion was contrary to Naval Regulations, the welfare of the men, and the convictions of the chaplains concerned.

Chafing under the burden of bearing the treatise from the Chaplains for Chastity, the Division Chaplain got as far as the Chief of Staff at Division headquarters, not nailing the treatise to the door like Martin Luther, but leaving the letter in the Chief’s hands with a behest of a reply to Chaplain Ed Brubaker as senior representative of the CFC. The insurrectionist letter was not warmly received.

Here comes the hornet’s nest.

The CFC received a pithy rebuff which I paraphrase. The Chief remonstrated: 1. The CFC’s letter was an ultra-act of disrespect to General MacArthur and his authority, an offense of Article 8 paragraph 7 of the Navy Regulations. 2. The CFC should confine themselves to the duties of a chaplain as outlined in Article 1245 (preach, visit the sick, etc.) 3. The CFC should not concern themselves with approved prostitution as the service providers have been tested by the Division personnel for “scientific knowledge only” and treatment is provided by the Japanese Health Department. 4. No off-limits signs had been removed from the ACCs. 5. The Navy had always supplied prophylactic stations in large cities. 6. The CFC had acknowledged that some men would engage in illicit sex practices and should not be denied use of a prophylactic station. 7. There were plenty of wholesome recreational activities available to the men, movies and a taxi dance hall and a projected enlisted men’s club and plans for trips to resorts. The Chief concluded with the ameliorating statement that, “It is quite apparent that the subscribers possessed no malice or intent to commit any offense, but have been misled by false rumors that cannot be substantiated by actual facts and have been unduly influenced by some Chaplains who listen for every rumor.”

In Chaplain Newquist’s letter to Bettie:  “I was informed that I would be replacing Chaplain Brubaker who left to return to the States. In three days, I will be transferred to Sasebo to become Regimental Chaplain of the 6th Marines. This sounds important but means nothing since there is only one or two other chaplains left in the regiment.”

Those “some Chaplains,” Chaplains Brubaker and Costello, were singled out and punitively dealt with. Out crawled a multitude of repercussions from the can of worms. Both Chaplains received immediate orders to return to the States. Every action has a reaction, so even under a gag order, like a straw in the wind, the word spread far and wide. Letters were written by Chaplains Ahearn, Donahoe and Cooper requesting transfers which they sent to the Bureau in Washington via official channels.

Chaplain Stowall addressed his to the Marine Command in Pearl Harbor (FMF Pac). He also added to his reasons for the transfer the recent evacuation of Chaplains Brubaker and Costello to the States. He also impugned a recent denial of permission to him to speak to a group of Japanese Christians. “For the Division to allow fraternization at the low level of prostitution and at the same time to deny the high level of fraternization of Christian worship is to follow a policy that is not in keeping with the best interests of the personnel of this division, etc.” The Chief’s reaction to this effusion consisted of a cross-fire telling the little Methodist “twerp” (my emphasis) by phone that he should be “shipped to Truk!”

Pictured: Chaplain Brubaker ministering to the wounded soldiers fighting in Saipan prior to being stationed in Japan.   

Thus, it was that the position of Regimental Chaplain vacated by Chaplain Edward Brubaker was given to Chaplain David C. Newquist seemingly by attrition as he and McShane had not requested a transfer but most of the other CFC had. Brubaker’s big combat boots would be hard to fill. A shepherd in combat boots, Chaplain Brubaker was awarded the Bronze Star for making the most trips to the front-line units in Saipan to administer religious services, assurance, and confidence to his men. Cheerful and courageous composure under fire and disregard for personal safety did much to advance the high morale and fighting spirit of his men.

The “Big Cheese” from Williamsburg, the CFC’s former mentor, flew from Pearl Harbor all the way to Japan to enter the conflagration by meeting with MacArthur and also with the Chaplains. Bringing General MacArthur’s platitudes and assurances with him to meet the warriors of Chaplains for Chastity, he encountered a unified front who set about unanimously shredding the General’s arguments. Chaplain Cooper said that he was never so proud of the clergy as a body than during that two-hour conference. The synod of Chaplains even shot down Chaplain Cooper’s thought that perhaps asking for transfers was cowardly and running away from the battle. His compatriots countered that if no transfers were asked, the protests in the letter would never have left the Division. The four stripe Williamsburg emissary stated that the Chaplains had done nothing wrong and that their stand represented the official Naval attitude. He promised that changes would be made.

A short while later it was time for the Chaplains to file their annual reports to the Secretary of the Navy, a complete narrative account of their ministry including any information which the Chaplain deemed additive to the interest and value of the report and to include frankly all matters he considered essential to get a full picture of his work. The four members of CFC that had written letters for transfer due to the RAAs included mention of it and the reasons behind it in their reports. Contretemps developed over this revelation. It was viewed as another act of subversion and insubordination. The Division Chaplain was summoned to the office of the Division Chief of Staff who required that mention of such request for transfers must be redacted from the reports of each chaplain: Donahoe, Ahearn, Cooper, and Stowall, and they were to stick to reporting their religious activities only. Stowall refused to delete the nefarious paragraph and was sent to the Force Chaplain’s office in Pearl Harbor thus to be sent home to the States for discharge even though he didn’t have enough points.

But, the straw in the wind drifted all the way to the media in the United States by the United States postal service and otherwise and began to show up in Newsweek and the New York Times. The story got out and one of the biggest suppliers of information was Chaplain George Wickersham who was stationed in Kumamoto, Japan.  Totally copacetic to the cause of the CFC, Wickersham spoke to his own men in the 3rd and 8th division stationed elsewhere in Japan about infidelity and the sin of fornication or adultery and also about venereal disease. His division had a very high percentage of infected men of which Dr. Richards was well aware. Chaplain Wickersham, “The Mole” was also Chaplain Brubaker’s friend and helped in disseminating the cause of the CFC to the upper echelons of the military in the States. Chaplain Brubaker had sent Wickersham copies of the CFC treatise.

Pictured: On the left, Dr. Richards. On the right, Chaplain Wickersham, “The Mole,” and author of the book, Marine Chaplain 1943-1946

Chaplain Wickersham from Kumamoto, however, included in his own report all his own efforts standing against prostitution and received no pushback from his own Division Chaplain in the 8th Division. Like a secret agent mole for the CFC, he seemed to have an open, unopposed, uncensored channel to the high military officials in the States. Wickersham contracted malaria and had been sent home. He carried with him all the documents his friend Chaplain Brubaker had given him: copies of the letter of protest by the CFC, the rebuttal letter, Chaplain Cooper and Chaplain Stovall’s requests for transfer, a copy of Chaplain Cooper’s unamended annual report, and a copy of the Division Chaplain’s reply explaining its return to be redacted. These he hand-delivered to the Chief of Chaplains, Rear Admiral, ChC, USN, W.N. Thomas in the Naval Annex in Arlington, Virginia.

MacArthur had placed a gag order on all news releases or communications that might sully the reputation of the United States occupation forces or the reason for the use of atomic bombs. Indeed, the American forces had incidences of rape and other malfeasance during the occupation of Okinawa and initially in Japan, too. This public decry of prostitution initiated by the CFC was an embarrassment and annoyance to GHQ. Wives and girlfriends and mothers in the United States didn’t like hearing about infidelity and fornication being commonplace among their husbands and boyfriends and sons. They were highly disturbed about their men bringing venereal disease home from Japan with their other souvenirs.

So amid the complaints from the CFC and concerns that disclosure back home of the brothels would be an embarrassment, on March 25, 1946, MacArthur placed all state authorized brothels, comfort stations and other places of prostitution off-limits. Men who went AWOL to continue their promiscuity were thrown in the brig, but the policing at the RAAs was lax. Eyes were averted. The RAAs were not available to Japanese men. Some disgruntled men behaved badly and more rapes occurred. Lots bore their sins with VD.

The article published on April 3, 1946 in the New York Times states that General MacArthur had asked the Occupation Chaplains to “help end the promiscuous relationships that exist between the American Occupation Forces and Japanese women.”  So, MacArthur yielded to the treatise of the CFC and basically said you can have your can of worms and eat them, too. So he burdened the Chaplains with the challenge of educating about venereal disease and promiscuity. These venereal meetings had been casually mentioned to Bettie in his letters.

Wickersham’s meeting with the Navy brass yielded fruit as well when General Order No. 238 was issued regarding the repression and prohibition of prostitution, disciplinary measures, and guidance for the commanding officers (Chaplains) regarding venereal disease. The RAAs were closed down and dismantled the end of June 1946 just before most of the occupation troops were sent home. The Chaplains for Chastity and their supporters stood on Biblical principles and won a great battle victory for morality and health although the war on prostitution was never completely won. The stand of the CFC became the law of the land

Because Chaplain Newquist remained in Japan instead of seeking a transfer due to the prostitution debacle, he was able to use his carpentry skills (his dad, Arvid, was a builder in Southern California) to restore buildings to create places to worship, preach the gospel to the men, become a support to the Japanese pastors there, arrange to get surplus food to the starving Japanese people, do circuit preaching by train to many American troops spread out over southern Japan, listen to and counsel his men under distress, advocate for them for early release due to adverse circumstances, and play a lot of volleyball and baseball. He also shipped home many physical war artifacts from Japan: samurai swords, an air raid siren, a highly radioactive parachute (which later a woman in his church made into curtains for my sister and my nursery!), a kimono, and a plethora of other items. He continued to support and ship food and supplies on his own accord to the Japanese pastors after he returned home.

By Sharon Soames, second of six children born to David and Bettie Newquist

And More.....

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A Note from the President

I am thrilled to be able to share the good news that two BIGS members who have served in various volunteer roles have agreed to join the Board as Interim Directors, temporarily filling two open positions until our elections take place in April. Their names will be familiar: Susie Wood and Ann Eklund. As Interim Directors, they will have an opportunity to see how the Board functions and work on on-going projects. Susie and Ann are both creative and energetic volunteers who have already made significant contributions to BIGS and I am looking forward to their participation on the Board. Their willingness to serve is key to keeping BIGS vital and moving forward.

Andy Hoskins, President

Susan Wood, Interim Director

Ann Eklund, Interim Director

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BIGS at the Beach!

Bring Your Family and Join BIGS Members
for Summer Picnic Dinner and Conversation

Food and Drink Provided

Appetizers, Casserole (Meat or Veggie), Sides and Sweets

Sparkling Water (or Bring Your Own Beverage, No Alcohol)

WHERE: Fay Bainbridge Park picnic shelter on the beach. Feel free to bring lawn chairs.

WHEN: Friday, August 18th, 5:00 - 8:00PM (DINNER served about 6:00)

QUESTIONS & RSVP: Please direct questions and RSVP to the email sent to members on Sunday, July 30.

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Photos from the...


Friday, June 16 @ 10AM

A very good time was had by all! 

These photographs, from what may have been the First Annual Antiques Roadshow, are courtesy of Chuck Eklund.