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.

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.

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

Special EVENING Program for BIGS Members

Monday, March 4 @ 6:30PM

Zoom Virtual Event

Using the Free Genealogy Database

Our presenter is Donna Snider, Director of the Camano-Stanwood FamilySearch Center on Camano Island. She has taught a variety of genealogical classes over the last several decades, and her specialty is teaching others how to easily steer through the extensive program.

Donna says that while beginners are the target audience for this presentation, she also directly addresses researchers who purposefully avoid because Family Tree information can be changed by others. 

Zoom link will be sent to all members via email. No registration necessary.

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


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.

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.

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, February 23 @ 10AM on Zoom

What do you know about your ancestor's world.

Share questions, frustrations, successes in your journey to fill in details about your ancestor’s life.  Do you want (or can you help with) ideas about using maps, directories, newspapers and other sources to fill in details about your ancestors?  The Friday Forum is an informal gathering to share and learn with others interested in genealogy.

Bring your questions or insights from the February 16, 2024 program “Recreating your Ancestor’s World” and anything else you would like to share or ask about.

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 21, 2024

A very good time was had by all! 

These photographs, from the Second Annual Antiques Roadshow, are courtesy of Chuck Eklund. 

(Photos will change automatically every few seconds)

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.

Optional donation of $5.00/person is appreciated.

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. 

A Note from the President

Now Is The Time!

The BIGS membership renewal is underway. I sent out the first email reminder on November 1st, along with a link to the website membership page.  A lot of folks are finding the option for paying online an easy way to go. Others are sending in their checks.

Now is a great time to pay dues for the coming year. It is a tremendous help to the Board to be heading in to the new year with a sense of what the budget will be. We depend on membership dues to cover the costs of pretty much everything we do: speakers fees, meeting room rental, insurance, our website, special events, etc.

Your Education and Program Chairs are at work right now, lining up speakers and planning special interest sessions. We are working to balance our in-person meetings with our zoom meetings, along with social events like the Antiques Roadshow and BIGS at the Beach. Support BIGS and participate in making it all happen by renewing your membership. Click here to renew!

Andy Hoskins, President

Friday Forum

(Formerly Skill SIG)

Friday, January 26, 10AM

on Zoom

Topic: Sharing Family Stories

A Facilitated Member Discussion


Are you stuck? Do you need (or can you offer) ideas, help, encouragement? How are you sharing about your family history? Besides writing, how else can we share about our families? The Friday Forum is an informal gathering to share and learn with others interested in genealogy.

Bring your insights or questions from the January 19th program “Get Organized to Write Your Family Stories” and anything else you would like to share or ask about.

Zoom link will be sent via email to all members. No need to register


Layers of London

Layers of London is a map-based history website developed by the Institute of Historical Research. Users can access free historic maps of London and contribute stories, memories and histories to create a social history resource about their area. Start exploring now!

Slide Show from the Holiday Party

By popular demand, here are the slides from the Holiday Party shared by Charlie Averill and Andy Hoskins.

DIRECTIONS: Advance or reverse the slides using the arrows on either side. Jump to different slides using the dots under the slides.


Friday, December 15

Twenty-Five members enjoyed Wassail, treats, excellent conversation, and holiday cheer!

Photographs are courtesy of Chuck Eklund. 

(Photos will change automatically every few seconds)

BIGS Team Explains "Why Genealogy?" to the Bainbridge Island Women's Club

On Thursday, March 21, Holly Ardinger, Betty Wiese, Susie Wood and I represented BIGS at the Bainbridge Island Women’s Club. We presented our “Why Genealogy?” program. This program involves a team of four members each answering the question “Why Genealogy,” with some of their own brief family stories, and ends with an invitation to join the fun and get some help from BIGS. From beginning to end, the entire presentation runs about a half-hour.

Our audience of 55 women was quite interested in our little talk. In fact, we were a bit startled to have enthusiastic applause for each presenter. And, there was a warm and lively Q&A period afterward. We created an outreach handout to use in our TreeBuilder coaching sessions; a family tree form on one side and tips about how to get started on the other. We were quite pleased to find that 14 members of the audience left with one.

I’m sure you noticed our smiles at the top of this article. That’s what it feels like to have told our family stories and found that their significance was appreciated by our audience. You can experience that feeling too. We know that you have some amazing family stories and we’d love to have you join us and sharing some of those gems with the community. 

If you would like to explore joining our team please contact Susie Wood. She can tell you more about what is expected of participants in this or other community outreach efforts, each designed to promote genealogy and let folks know who we are and what we offer.

Finally, if you belong to an organization on Bainbridge or North Kitsap that you think might be interested in having us present our Why Genealogy program, please let me know. As we say in our presentation: “Why Genealogy? It’s all about discovering those family stories.” Add yours to our mix.

Larry Noedel

President's Message

Attention BIGS Members: Our Annual Meeting will be held on Friday, April 19, immediately following our April Program. Please plan to stay for this brief membership meeting. This is your chance to show your support for your fellow members that have volunteered to take on a leadership role in guiding BIGS forward. We will be asking you to confirm the proposed slate of officers and directors for the coming two years.

Annual Report 2024

This has been a busy year for BIGS! Our regular monthly meetings included nine presentations; we offered Zoom, hybrid and in-person options. We also held three social events – Antiques Roadshow, BIGS at the Beach and our Holiday Party – so members could share their interest and enthusiasm for genealogy with each other.

Last April, knowing that we would be losing Board members and reassigning duties, the Board developed a Succession Action Plan to help us identify and recruit new volunteers and new members for the Board of Directors. We held multiple informal meetings with our current volunteers to get their feedback about their volunteer experience, and plenty of coffee was consumed. We pursued several methods of Outreach, included re-starting our Q&A for non-members under a new name: TreeBuilder Live, and we opened the door to our existing members as well and offered it in the evening at the Bainbridge library nine times. We also developed and provided “Why Genealogy?” – a presentation offered by several of our members to share their stories about what led them to pursue genealogy – for the Senior Center and the Kingston library.

Our efforts have paid off! While we are saying good-bye to two stalwart members of the Board, Susan Palmer and Sylvia Nelson, we are welcoming three new Board members: Ann Ekland, Susie Wood and Michele Will. And, after four years as your president, I am relinquishing the reins, and pleased to be turning things over to our current Vice-President, Larry Noedel.

All in all, things are looking quite promising for the coming year. BIGS is in good shape financially. We have a varied schedule of speakers and events planned, and a Board of Directors invested in responding to our members needs and interests.

Please remember that everything BIGS offers is planned and carried out by volunteers. Many of your current board members have been doing this work for years now. None of us knew how to do the work when we first volunteered to be on the board. We survived the pandemic while other societies did not, because we learned how to use Zoom, learned how to set up a hybrid meeting, learned how to capture opportunities for socializing and sharing, and because we were determined to meet the challenge.

If, as a member, you are enjoying what BIGS has to offer, I ask that you consider volunteering your help. We can use your assistance with tasks large and small, and will work with you to find the role that’s right for you. Together, we can ensure that BIGS endures, and continues to be relevant and successful despite the inevitable turn-over in our leadership and the unavoidable challenges that come our way in the future.

Andy Hoskins, President