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 did it and walked the Great Wall together.
David grew up in Nottingham, England, a city in the East Midlands, 2 hours north of London. He came to the U.S. in 1976 to do a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Biology at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health he joined the nascent biotechnology industry, coming to Seattle in 1983 to work for Immunex Corporation. There he worked on cloning genes that regulate the immune system in the hope that they could be turned into useful drugs.
When he isn’t involved with genealogy, David likes to spend his time in nature. He is an avid traveler and recently returned from a trip to South America including the Atacama Desert, glaciers and lakes in Patagonia and a brief cruise in the Straights of Magellan. Favorite past trips have been safaris to various countries in Southern and East Africa, and he is planning an Indian safari for next year. But David also enjoys the local nature scene and likes to ski and hike all over the West. He figures that this is the time in his life that he should experience the natural environments that are more difficult to reach and leave the cultural travels for later in life.
Genealogy and BIGS
His parents didn’t talk much about their own family backgrounds, and like most of us, young David wasn’t especially interested in that subject. Then, about five years ago, after both his parents were deceased, he was reviewing some of his father’s belongings and came across a collection of photographs that he had never seen. Even though names had been written on the back of the photos, David didn’t have the slightest idea who these people were. And that was a mystery he felt compelled to solve. Soon he was constructing his family tree on Ancestry.com. Shortly after that he heard about BIGS and decided he should investigate the organization. After attending a meeting or two he concluded that BIGS could help him learn what he needed to know in order to advance his family history.
After joining BIGS, as you might expect, David quickly became involved with the Great Britain Special Interest Group. Sometime later, he agreed to take on the leadership of the group, a position he continues to hold. David is also a member of the Hybrid Meeting Committee. But, many in our community might say that David’s most important contribution to BIGS has been his informal volunteerism. David is looked to for his willingness to help others with his knowledge of genealogical DNA, an aspect of genealogy that some find daunting, and one that David’s scientific background is particularly suited for.
David has served on other non-profit boards and continues working with two other organizations in that capacity. He prefers working within BIGS where volunteering provides him with a better opportunity to get to really know other members and their situations by being more directly involved. He would encourage others to volunteer because it helps the organization function, will spread the workload, and allow for a deeper engagement with other members.
A Surprising Fact
David didn’t know his ethnicity, and never really thought much about it, until, at about age 20, he made the accidental discovery that he was half Jewish. At that time, while still in college in England, he took a summer job in the U.S which financed a bus trip to see more of the United States. On that trip he visited a cousin of his father’s who told him more about the family’s background. Undoubtedly, another important and surprising piece of information to stimulate David’s eventual deep interest in genealogy.
Lori both grew up and spent most of her working life in San Jose, California. Her career actually started when a high school counselor told her about a new course in “something called word processing.” Being bored with the usual high school courses, she spent the afternoons of her senior year off campus, learning Word Processing. This got her hired by the City of San Jose where she spent her entire working career. Lori started in data entry and ending up as Enterprise Network Manager. She earned all of her technical education and engineering certifications with Microsoft and Cisco while working. Usually she was the only woman in the courses.
It was also in high school where she met her husband Dave. In 2011, when they decided that their working days came to an end, Lori and Dave began considering retirement property on the California coast. But Dave came across some information about a place called Bainbridge Island. They made a trip to look the island over, fell in love with it, and quickly moved into their place in the Lynwood area.
Lori is an avid gardener and spends as much time as she can producing lots of vegetables and a few flowers on their acre-and-a-half. Not to be outdone, Dave adds his passion and expertise to the enterprise, caring for some 300 varieties of ferns. Still, half of that acre-and-a-half isn’t enough gardening space for Lori. She also has a plot at Johnson Farm and gardens at a friend’s house.
Genealogy and BIGS
Lori was always interested in her family history based on stories she heard growing up, but only became involved in genealogy after she moved to Bainbridge. Lori joined BIGS in 2015 after hearing about the organization at the Bainbridge Public Library. She soon learned that the limited information she had been given by her family was accurate. She went on to discover that she had surprising Washington state roots, learning that her mother’s father was born in Kelso Washington in 1902. Her deeper ancestry traces back to Ireland. In fact, she and Dave recently returned from a very fulfilling month-long trip to the Emerald Isle.
Lori became a BIGS volunteer, as many of us have, after learning about the opportunities from Betty Wiese. Her first major contribution was to migrate the website from HTML to WordPress. She later played the key role in two “website refreshes,” and with the last one, earlier this year, added PayPal, giving the organization the ability to collect membership revenue on the website. All this while overseeing the website on a day-to-day basis.
Lori is also a member of the Hybrid Meeting committee and has played an important role in the creation and execution of the BIGS newsletter. She has also volunteered for the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art; helps out at Heronswood Botanical Gardens in Kingston; and works with SWERV here on the Island.
Lori had a short and sweet answer as to why other members should volunteer with BIGS: “To meet people.” She sees volunteering is a means to get to know your fellow members and enjoy their company.
A Surprising Fact
Bet you didn’t know that Lori has taken up water color painting in addition to her many other activities.