Historical Society, 2017 - November Minutes


November 13, 2017


Present: Tom Deach (pres), Janice Veal (treas), Win Anderson, Frea Gladish, Rick & Renee Norrie, Emma & Rob Schroder, Nancy & Al Bush, Barb Ohms, Dawn Ashbach, Bob Anderson, Ian Woofenden, Melita Townsend, Arden & Stuart Charles, Sally Stapp, Sue O’Donnell (sec)


ProgramRenee and Rick Norrie came to the meeting to talk about Renee’s family.  Renee’s Mom Ria Foster brought Renee and her 2 brothers, Bruce & Dan, out west from Michigan in 1968 after the death of her engineer husband.  Ria came from Holland and lived through WWII before coming to the US to settle in Michigan.  She was a teaching fellow waiting to get her degree in Art at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  She had her own gallery and did street fairs.  Eventually became a sign carrying activist and was threatened with dismissal if she didn’t stop.


Ria decided she did not want to say in Michigan, so she bought a travel trailer and headed west with her 3 children, ending up in Anacortes.  Wanting a place to stay for the summer, they were told about Guemes by realtor Bill Veal and heard about the Brado Store on North Beach.  Ria was advised it would be cheaper to buy than finding a place to rent.  They camped at the Resort for a few weeks before hearing Brados was in foreclosure.  They drove the trailer into the driveway and soon bought the house and store.  The children got settled in school and Ria opened a gallery – “The Green Frog” - in Anacortes. 


A company in Detroit asked her if she would represent some of their artists.  Her business became Island International Artists and for years she drove all over the country selling art to galleries and interior designers. 


Soon after she landed on Guemes, ferry skipper Ray Saparovich introduced Ria to Tony Foster.  They were married at the Guemes Church in 1969.  They blended their 2 families of 3 children each – 5 boys and Renee!  When school was out the year of 1972, they rented the house out and traveled.  Upon returning, there was a dryer fire and the house burned down.  The firefighters were determined to make sure Ria’s van full of works of art didn’t burn up as the house was destroyed.  This happened just a few days before school was to start.  Guemes folk rallied and supplied the family with clothes and food.  They lived in the 2 room store until the house was rebuilt by Tony and the children. They opened “North Wind Gallery” on Guemes and ran a printing press for artists and had workshops to teach artists the proper way to do etchings.  Tony invented a way to speed up the process of drying the ink on the etched plates.  It was quite a process of etching the images onto the plates, printing onto the special paper, sending them back to the artists for coloring and then preparing them to be sold.


Some in tonight’s audience talked of seeing the recognizable artworks in other cities during travels.  Some names of the local artists represented by Ria: Yvonne Davis, Betsy Ockwell, Max Benjamin, Beki Killoran, Jennifer Bowman, Suellen Ross, Tony Turpin, Donna Turner, Michael Bush, Zobra  and more!


The printing press is in production to this day, run by brother Bruce.  He still hauls cases of artwork to galleries and has brought his son into the business. 


Ria eventually sold NorthWind Gallery which was a work of art itself.  Many have lovely memories of visiting the gallery to look through the beautiful show-cases made by Tony.  All those shallow drawers were full of treasures!   Since selling the gallery, Ria has been concentrating on her beautiful beadwork.


In 1980 Tony bought and restored the 1920 Harris Motor Launch “Scamper”.  In 1987 he opened “Northwind Woodworks”.  Many in the audience were familiar with his excellent building skills and had stories of working with him on projects.  Tony died in 1999.



Show and Tell: Rob found part of a pestle on his property (Baker property); discussion about whether it could have been a net weight.

Win says if an eagle is found dead, Department of Fish And Wildlife should be called.



Treasurers Report:  (attached) Janice reports Win has recycled aluminum cans to the tune of $40.20.  Bazaar tables have been rented to tune of $630.00. 

Current account balance is: $31,140.65 plus the 2 CDs (~$4,400.00)

Sally Stapp donated $20 again from her on-going flowers sale.  Tom will be asking a Guemes resident to do an audit of the Society “books”.

Old Business:  The 2018 calendars are back from the printer – YAY!  Topic is ferry captains from the early 1900s up to 2007.  We have 150 to sell @ $15 each.


New Business:


Holiday Bazaar – Saturday, Nov. 25, we will showcase local artists and raise funds with our bake sale and soup lunch.  Nancy & Lorraine Francis are organizing the food sales.  Advertising has already begun in “Holiday Bazaar Directory” of Skagit Valley Herald and Anacortres Printing, “Clam Digger” for which we were not charged.  New signs will direct folks to both the G.I. Comm. Church and the Community Center buildings.  Set-up will be Friday evening, 6:30pm. 


Signs will be at ferry dock, Crossroads Park plus sandwich boards, cleverly painted by Barb Ohms.


All “booths” have been spoken for.  Tom will man the ‘donation jar’ at Hist. Soc. table while also selling mugs and calendars.



Next meeting:  December 11, 2017.  Christmas traditions near and far.


Coming Events


At the December meeting, Win will highlight the historic account of one of the first Christmases on Guemes.


January Meeting will be on Westenhaver family. 



Recent Guemes losses: Glenda Bullock Matthews  (1943-2017)



 Sue Stapp O’Donnell, secretary               

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