Volunteer Spotlight


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 did it and walked the Great Wall together.

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