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Oral Histories

Oral histories offer us a deep and very personal understanding of local history. Hearing the stories of our fellow community members reminds us that we all share a common humanity. Here are stories that highlight the human experience, like love and loss, winning a fight, finding your voice, finding  your path, and starting fresh.  And while they spoke a lot about the past, narrators have shared their thoughts, hopes and observations for Issaquah’s future.  We’re grateful to our community narrators for sharing themselves with us. We look forward to meeting new narrators in the near and distant future.

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Dan Anderson

An Eagle Scout, graduate of MIT in Nuclear Physics, winner of the Howard Hughes fellowship, a Physicist and Patent Law Attorney Dan Anderson is somewhat of a Renaissance man. He was a 58-year member of the Kiwanis and one time president of the club in Issaquah. Dan was a marathon runner, member of Master Chorus and a benefactor of the Village Theatre. This oral history is filled with fascinating stories of one man’s life.


Vernon “Babe” Anderson

Lifetime resident of Issaquah, Babe Anderson discusses his grandparent’s immigration to the United States and Issaquah, his life growing up and remaining in Issaquah, his work at the Issaquah Creamery, and being drafted for both WWII and the Korean War. Vernon requested recognition of his grandfather, Tolle Anderson.


Aubrey Aramaki

The owner of Aubrey's Clocks in Gilman Village, Aubrey Aramaki is an accomplished storyteller. He discusses starting his clock business in Korea, Vietnam and Japan, the racism he has encountered, his parent's internment at Tule Lake, the purchase of buildings in Issaquah, his business and the influential people he has met throughout his time in Issaquah.



Donna Pedegana Arndt

Donna Pedegana Arndt, longtime Issaquah resident, discusses her childhood, her father's time as a coal miner, her mother's death, the Eastern Stars, WWII, attitudes in Issaquah and her role as museum docent and the preservation of Issaquah.

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Elvin Barlow and Marie Barlow Chandler

The Barlow's parents were Finnish and Swedish immigrants who moved their family to Issaquah in 1906 and opened a dairy farm. They discuss culture and traditions of being brought up in a Finnish area of Issaquah and how people of other ethnicities would come to baseball games, barbecues and events.


Marilyn Dodge Batura

A resident of Issaquah since birth, Marilyn was an adventurous and precocious little girl who had a wonderful time growing up in the area. Her oral history tells of her “Stand By Me” moment in the woods of Issaquah in junior high, as well as her work on the city council, volunteering at Issaquah History Museums and raising a family while living on the same land she grew up on.



Beryl Baxter

A member of several prominent Issaquah pioneer families, Beryl was born and raised in Issaquah. She shares family lineage of the Wold, Bush and Baxter families in this oral history. Other topics include farming, holidays and everyday life in Issaquah in the early 1900s.

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Dorothy Hailstone Beale


Dorothy Hailstone Beale was born in 1919 and talks about growing up in Issaquah, logging, and the Hailstone family. Her extensive interview covers many families in Issaquah as well as some fascinating discussion about the KKK and cultural and race relations in Issaquah.


Debbie Berto

Finding your voice.

Longtime Issaquah resident and editor of the Issaquah Press, Debbie Berto helped to tell the stories of Issaquah for over 40 years. Debbie raised a family, owned a business in Gilman Village in its early days and co-chaired Issaquah’s Salmon Days

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Manny Brown

Finding your path.

Social justice activist and longtime Issaquah resident, Manny was an Assistant Coach to the Issaquah Eagles Wrestling team.  He is a member of the East Shore Unitarian church and is active in the Black Lives Matter movement; hosting events such as Flash Stance.  Manny shares his story as a person of color living in Issaquah.

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Rhonda Brown

The past, plus thoughts, hopes, and observations for Issaquah's  future.

Rhonda moved to Issaquah with her husband and two children. Through her oral history, we see the challenges of living in Issaquah for a young African American family. Rhonda tells of her work as a longtime employee of IBM and antiracism work with her sister and with the Unitarian Church in Bellevue.



Alex Kolonji Bunema

Originally from Kinshasa, Congo, Alex traveled to Europe, Asia, Canada and the United States. He started boxing when he was 5  and won 5 national titles and 2 African titles. During his career, Alex was crowned by Nelson Mandela and fought at Madison Square Garden. He came to work with manager, Ray Fry, who lived in Issaquah. He was happy to be able to fight at the Issaquah Community Center so that his fans in Issaquah could be there.


Delores Kinnune Busby

Delores shares the history of her life as a child living in downtown Issaquah. Her father owned a shoe shop and a restaurant on Front St. She discusses the 1949 and 1965 earthquake as well as the changes in Issaquah over the years. Delores also covers life in Issaquah during WWII and throughout her life.

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Esther Jones Bush

Moving to Issaquah after her marriage to Floyd Bush, Ester recalls Floyd's work at the Grange, his service in WWII and raising her children. A member of the Pythian Sisters Lodge, she also discusses the Issaquah Rodeo and the businesses and people of Issaquah.

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Floyd Bush

Floyd Bush discusses hauling coal, changes in Issaquah, bootlegging, dances at Grange Hall and Gibson Hall as well as at the Mason's and Oddfellows. He talks of the Native American settlement below Monohan and the day his mother and aunt stole a copper pot from a Native American gravesite.

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Bush, Gregory, Horrocks, Pickering, Wold

This group early Issaquah residents discuss their family histories, how their families arrived in Issaquah; the settlement and development of Issaquah; stories of Native Americans; coal mining, logging and farming; the railroad; early education; community roles of other early families; and their thoughts on life then verses life now.

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Bush, Cutsforth, Workman

This group of Issaquah residents discuss early settler families and their relationships; how to clear land; logging and coal mining; various lumber mills; barns and dairies; stories of Native Americans; and travel by waterways and auto freight.

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Fred Butler

Army veteran, longtime resident of Issaquah, mayor, councilmember, and active civic leader outside of government, Fred Butler shares his unique memories and insights of Issaquah.

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Dick Campbell

Dick Campbell discusses his genealogy, the Campbell family's relationship to and involvement with Issaquah, Tiger Mountain, Cascara Bark, hunting, coal mines, logging and his career as an educator.

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Patricia “Pat” Louise Currie

Pat discusses her Oregon roots, her husband, the last station agent at the Issaquah Depot, living in the train depot and working as a printer at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Patricia discusses the discrimination in the Railroad industry after WWII when she studied to be a telegrapher in college, but was told no one would hire a “lady” telegrapher.

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Dallas Darst

Lifetime Issaquah resident, Dallas Darst discusses the Casto murders, Native Americans in the area, the Pest House, his brother Earl, the massacre of Chinese hop pickers, horses, Prohibition, and the Issaquah ferry.

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Ivan Darst

In 1977, Ivan Darst sat down with Harriet Fish to discuss life in Issaquah in the early 1900s. Subjects include mining, earthquakes, the Grand Ridge Tunnel, the locations of miner's homes, Prohibition, moonshining and the naming of Issaquah.

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Camilla Berg Erickson

Camilla Berg was born in 1918 and discusses raising chickens (her family had 800), the Norwegian community and food, and Issaquah during the depression. She also discusses changes in Issaquah over the years


Bill Evans

William C. Evans Jr. was born in 1923. In his interview, Bill talks about his grandfather’s work with Issaquah Water Department, his upbringing in Issaquah, his time in the service in World War II, meeting his wife and his life in Seattle and Issaquah.

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Bob Evans

Longtime Issaquah resident, Bob Evans discusses working in the coal mines and logging camps, his school days and what he did for fun, the Depression, Prohibition, the mayoral recall, and the Ku Klux Klan meeting in Pickering's fields.


Leo Finnegan

Leo arrived in Washington when he attended Gonzaga to study engineering. In the mid 1970s, he, his wife, Rose and 5 children moved to Issaquah. Concerned about what would happen to their developmentally disabled son, Rose started a parent group for people with children with disabilities. And through their work, Life Enrichment Options was formed.

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Harriet and Edwards Fish, Andy Wold


Harriet and Edwards Fish and Andy Wold discuss the history of Issaquah at a meeting of the Friends of the Issaquah Library. Topics include settler families, coal mining, logging, the railroad, and development. They tell of early families, indigenous peoples, hop farming and the many businesses in Issaquah.

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Allen and Thomas Flintoft

Allen Flintoft discusses how his family settled in Issaquah and opened a funeral home, his grandfather as mayor, his childhood, and how he decided to continue the family business. In the middle, his father Thomas enters the conversation and describes his family and how they entered the funeral business.

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Bob Gray

Bob Gray discusses how he started the Presbyterian Church in Issaquah, the history of the church, the social services provided through the church, Issaquah in the 1960s, the Forum Theater and Forum Bookstore, influential people of Issaquah and the Issaquah Group for Health and Environmental Research

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Leslie Grossruck

Stepdaughter of the founder of the Issaquah Skyport, Leslie tells a story of innovations in flying, living on and losing the Skyport, her stepfather, Linn Emrich, brother Thor and D.B. Cooper.


James “Pinky” Hailstone

James “Pinky” Hailstone was born in British Columbia in 1898 His interview has a lot of interesting stories including he and some friends burning a “fiery cross” and the KKK being blamed for it, and the story of the only hanging in Issaquah.

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Keith Hansen

Former Mayor of Issaquah, Hansen describes politics in Issaquah as well as difficulties had faced as mayor. One of the issues was lack of and enforcement of ordinances in Issaquah. He changed much of that during his time as mayor. He was involved in the Pickering Barn development as well as the Skyport and Gilman Village.

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Florence Bergsma Harper 

Florence Bergsma Harper discusses her Dutch ancestry and their entry into Ellis Island, the Issaquah Valley Dairy and life on a dairy farm, becoming Labor Day Queen (1955), Darigold, Boeing, Salmon Days, the Grange and memories of her close-knit family, particularly her father as Santa Claus.

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Wilma Nikko Hill

Wilma Nikko Hill discusses her ancestors, her parents and siblings, her childhood and her school days, Finnish traditions and special foods, Monohon Mill her first washing machine, Polio, her marriage and son, development in Issaquah, WWII and her work at the fish hatchery.


Rowan Hinds

Former mayor of Issaquah, Rowan Hinds was interviewed by sitting Mayor, Mary Lou Pauly. Rowan discusses his time as the Mayor, major issues during his time on the council and his many accomplishments: including the Skyport, Costco, Issaquah Library, Issaquah Community Center and the Julius Boehm Pool.

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Linda Hjelm

Linda Adair Hjelm discusses her ancestry and how her family settled in Issaquah, her childhood, the Grange, Issaquah Theatre, WWII, her career with Holiday Inn, the Vietnam War, and changes in Issaquah over the years.


Lee Roy Hepler

Lee Hepler discusses running the Ford agency he later sold to Foothills Motors, changes in the automotive industry, his time as the mayor of Issaquah during the Depression, replacing the wooden sidewalks, and known bootleggers during Prohibition.


John Hircko


The owner of Johnny's Food Center in downtown Issaquah, John Hircko, discusses his youth as a supplier to the bootleggers of the area and how easy it was to get alcohol during Prohibition. Hircko discusses the Great Depression and how it affected the sawmills and the mines of Issaquah.

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Emery Cobourn Hill


Interviewed in 1988, Emery describes the several generations of his family settled in Issaquah. His parents mined gold and met in California. When his grandfather moved to Issaquah, his parents followed and his mother worked in a restaurant and his father became an engineer. Emery describes life in Issaquah, including baseball and the Issaquah Rodeo in the 1930s.

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Eleanor Wicklund Hope

Eleanor Hope grew up in a Swedish community in High Point. She discusses her father's death in a logging accident, logging and shingle mills in High Point, Swedish weddings and holidays, Communism, the Depression and her career as a teacher.


Archie Howatson​

Archie Howatson discusses being born in Monohon, fire and its aftermath, his childhood and education, The Great Depression, his career as a logger and his time in the Army.

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William Hunt

William Hunt, longtime Issaquah resident talks about working at the weekly paper and the technicalities of the printing press. He tells stories of swimming in Lake Sammamish and Issaquah Creek as a boy, traveling to Seattle, Cowie's Boats, bootlegging, and union work at a print shop.

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Jake Jones Jr.

Jacob Jones Jr. was born in 1881 to Jacob Jones Sr. and Mary Anderson Jones. He was born in Washington and lived in Issaquah until his death in 1959. His interview is from 1958 and contains many first person accounts of Issaquah’s early days. His interview is a fascinating picture of what life was like in early Issaquah.

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Ruth Kees

Ruth was born in Nebraska in 1923 She worked as a government inspector during WWII, getting her pilot’s license and working at Boeing. Ruth discusses the impact Issaquah’s development has had on the environment and her effort to protect it. If you’re interested in local environmental issues, both of Ruth’s interviews are amazing reads.

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Lavern Clifford Keir

Lavern Keir discusses his home on Tiger Mountain, Keir Company, his machinist career, the Depression, hunting, and his family. He talks about being 97 years old and having no regrets.

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Robin Hailstone Kelley

Former Director of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, Robin Hailstone Kelley discusses her heritage and genealogy, memories of her parents, her childhood and school days, changes in Issaquah, Salmon Days, and why Issaquah is her home.


Florence Koss 

Florence Koss, longtime area resident, discusses her childhood, illness as a child, her marriage and children, husband Paul's work in the WPA, her bout with Tuberculosis, politics and changes in Issaquah.


Paul and  Florence Koss 

Paul and Florence discuss each of their family's genealogy and their father's professions as coal miner and secretary of the Grange. They tell stories of growing up in Issaquah and how it has changed over the years; as well as, Florence's time in a sanitorium for TB and Paul's time at Boeing as a mechanic.

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Dan Kramer

Longtime Issaquah resident, Dan Kramer talks about his family businesses, The Red & White Grocery Store and Coast to Coast Hardware. Kramer discusses serving in Germany and France in WWII and how Issaquah has changed over the years.


David Arthur Lewis

Dave Lewis discusses his childhood and school days, his working days in construction, the coming of electricity, his barbershop, the atmosphere and people of Issaquah, and the changes he has seen during his many years in Issaquah.

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Mary E. Lewis


Mary discusses growing up in Issaquah and seeing it change over the years. She gives a first-hand account life on a chicken farm, being the daughter of the manager of the grange, schools and teachers in Issaquah and being a leader of a Camp Fire Girl Troup and the early families of Issaquah.

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Mary Lou Lewis

Lifetime Issaquah resident, Mary Lou Lewis discusses her genealogy, her school days, various jobs before teaching in Issaquah, women's liberation and civil rights, and how human connection has been lost with the loss of small towns.

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Mary Colton Lucas

Mary Colton Lucus lived from 1898 to 1982. She was  a teacher in the Upper Squak School. In this interview, she discusses her experience there in 1917-18.


Irene Bonomi Malmassari

Irene Bodoni Malmassari, lifetime resident of Issaquah, discusses historic events and how they affected life in Issaquah. Subjects include early childhood, education, WWI, Prohibition, bootleggers and various pioneers of Issaquah.


Irja Maunus


Interviewed in 1975, Irja discusses her Finnish roots and how her family settled in Issaquah, growing up as a child in her neighborhood in Issaquah, early school days and how her father supported them as a miner for Harris’ and the Bianco Coal Mines.

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Nina Milligan


After moving to the Issaquah Highlands in 2004, Nina was charmed by its community feel and shared spaces. Another important aspect for her was that it was 100% built green and fully sustainable. Nina worked for the Urban Village Development Commission from 2005-2014 and is instrumental in keeping the Highlands the community it is.


Ruth Mohl


Ruth Mohl, former journalism teacher at the University of Washington discusses how she and her husband settled in Issaquah, the creation of Gilman Village, the "Make Issaquah Beautiful" committee the Skyport, and her children and their careers.


Thomas Mosby

Thomas Mosby served as the football coach at Liberty High School during a time of racial upset. As a person of color, Mosby came in and taught the mostly white student body compassion and acceptance. As a counselor, he worked to bring people together and promote a better understanding of the different cultures within the school.

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Ernie Neuman


Former Issaquah teacher, principal and school superintendent, Ernie Neuman discusses his education, his career as an educator, and changes in the Issaquah schools.

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Ed Mott


Ed Mott discusses his time in the Marine Corps in the Crime Investigation Divistion, his career as an Issaquah and Bellevue police officer, the growth of Issaquah, Organized crime in Issaquah, the D.B. Cooper case, Ted Bundy, the Rafay murders, and the Wilson murder case.


A. J. Peters


Peters discusses how he settled in Issaquah, early Issaquah milk and banking industries, Fire District 10, Issaquah orchestra and band, Ku Klux Klan rally on Pickering Farm, mayors of Issaquah, and a coal strike.

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Viola White Petersen


Viola Petersen discusses her family's Finnish genealogy, her childhood and school days, Campfire Girls, her various jobs, her marriage and children, Prohibition, the Depression, and World War II.

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Joe Peterson


Joe discusses moving to Issaquah, a suburban bedroom community for Boeing employees. As a Social Studies teacher at Issaquah High School, he met many of the history keepers in the area and became one himself. Joe was instrumental in the founding of the Issaquah Historical Society and held a seat on the City Council for eight years.

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Roy Peterson


Roy Peterson discusses the various businesses in Issaquah and the difficulties of finding work when he arrived in 1952. Peterson tells of his years on the City Council as well as many interesting tales of Issaquah.

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Robert Pickering


Robert Pickering discusses the generations of his family born and raised in Issaquah. He tells of their careers, disputes over land, the Gold Rush, constructing the dairy farm and his life there, WWII, Japanese prison camps, the atomic bomb, his wife and the Pickering Farm while he was running it.


Leona Bogdan Plute


Lifetime resident, Leona discusses growing up in Issaquah on her family farm. She talks about canning, making noodles and working on the farm. She discusses the Weyerhouser kidnapping, fishing, meeting her husband and WWII. Leona's tells of her friend Yuri Kobukata and her family being bussed to Oklahoma to be interred during the war and the letters they exchanged while she was at the camp.


Olive Quigley


Born in 1876, Olive Quigley was in her 90s during her oral history interview. In it, she discusses the Native Americans in the area, their language and lifestyle.She discusses her childhood and growing up in the area.


Josephine Cornick Ross


Josephine Cornick Ross discusses her family and their home on Front Street; childhood games; her work at Bon Marche and Frederick & Nelson's; the Depression; World War II; the Ku Klux Klan; Prohibition; travel to Seattle; the Issaquah Theater; and Monohon.

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Skip Rowley


Longtime resident and businessman in Issaquah, Skip Rowley discusses the history of Rowley Properties, his father's business philosophy, the challenges of developing Squak Mountain, people who helped him, and how his family would like to be remembered.


Minnie Wilson Schomber: Pre-1983


Minnie Schomber discusses the Issaquah train depot,  past and present, and the possibilities of its restoration.


Minnie Wilson Schomber: 1993


Lifetime resident of Issaquah, Minnie Wilson Schomber tells the story of Issaquah in the early 1900s. She discusses relationships among the Issaquah pioneer families, her years as a teacher and the changes in Issaquah over the years.


Mary Scott


Born in Alaska, Mary Scott moved to Washington state as a child. An only child, Mary was adventuresome and visited many places in her two years in Peace Corps. After receiving her Masters degree at the University of Washington, she moved to Issaquah and became a middle school teacher and found herself on the school board for several years.

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Ed Seil

Lifelong Issaquah resident, Ed discusses his heritage and the Seil family history in Issaquah. His family owned the Grand Central Hotel, the Log Tavern and were miners and loggers. Ed is a born storyteller and talks of Alpine Dairy Football Team, WWII and changes in Issaquah through the years.


Walter Seil

Walt was born in Issaquah in 1920. He had seven brothers and sisters, many with family remaining in the area. He talks about growing up in Issaquah on a ranch and in Snoqualmie where his father was a logger. He also talks about accidents he had, Alpine Dairy Football Team, and his role in WWII. He was a great story teller.

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Roland Shew

Roland Shew discusses his family and their lives in Monohon during the Depression, and his various jobs. He shares stories of his sister and father, who was in the union and difficulties and injuries while working in the mill with his father.


Alicia Spinner

Starting fresh.

Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Alicia has made her home in Issaquah after living in San Francisco, Boston and West Virginia. Encountering racism throughout her travels, equity work has become a staple in her life. As the manager of Cultural Bridges. Alicia helps immigrants navigate the education system and advocates for people of color in the Issaquah area.

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Greg Spranger

Longtime resident, Greg Spranger, is an advocate of collecting and maintaining the history of Issaquah. His oral history is full of stories of moving and renovating buildings in Issaquah, including the Issaquah Depot, Gilman Town Hall, the Autofreight Building and the Alexander House. Spranger discusses many familiar Issaquah names and places.


Marisol Visser

Born in Villahermosa, Tabasco in Mexico, Marisol made her way to Issaquah via the Netherlands. She moved to Issaquah with her husband and oldest child in 2009. Marisol discusses volunteering at her daughter's school and the difficulties of language barriers and cultural differences in Issaquah. Marisol started helping other immigrant families to navigate the barriers to success in a new place. That is how Cultural Bridges came to be.


Ida Walimaki

Born in Issaquah, Ida Walimaki discusses her family including her cousin, Bessie Wilson, her grandfather who fought in the Civil War and was a prisoner in Andersonville and attending the Tibbets School.

Oral History Project Sponsors

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The 2020/2021 Oral History Project is made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.




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