Remembering Bob Minnich

Remembering Bob Minnich


Robert Stewart Minnich died June 14, 2017 after a short fight with cancer. He was born on June 27, 1950 at Tripler Hospital in Honolulu, HI. The son of Colonel E.S. Minnich (USAF pilot and later mayor of Puyallup) and Laurienne Stewart Minnich, Bob moved frequently, growing up in multiple stations in the U.S. and Europe. However, Puyallup, WA, was considered ‘home base’ because Laurienne was a Puyallup native.

Bob graduated from W.T. Woodson High School (Fairfax, VA) in 1968 as a National Merit Scholar. He began his collegiate career at the Naval Academy in 1968, transferred to the University of Puget Sound in 1969, transferred to Washington State University in 1970 where he helped found the WSU crew team, and graduated from the University of Washington in 1973. Bob moved to Puyallup that year to care for his aging grandmother, Lillian Stewart.

Over the ensuing years Bob became a mainstay for community services in Puyallup, offering his time and energy to Friends of the Library (past president), the Rhododendron Society, and he was a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International. He served as president of the Ezra Meeker Historical Society (now the Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion), was a 25th district leader of the Republican Party, and one-time manager of Puyallup’s Main Street. Bob was passionate about tree planting, so many of the trees that line Puyallup city streets were planted by Bob’s efforts. He had a deep love for all history, and especially the local history of the Puyallup Valley. He led many school groups over the years on history tours of downtown, as well as through the Meeker Mansion.

In tight times, Bob’s sense of humor always came to the rescue. Family members and friends recruited to clear trees after windstorms were dubbed the ‘Hardly Able Logging Company’. Anticipating a bad decision, Bob’s little brother warning of “Iceberg ahead!” could be heard and too often followed by “Cling to the wreckage!” Bob is survived by his mother Laurienne, his sister Elizabeth C. Anderson (Duvall, WA), his brother, Scott A. Minnich (Moscow, ID), and his beloved Border collie, Troon, the international peacock-herding champion. A private interment will be held on July 15 at the Tacoma Cemetery. A community Celebration of Life service for Bob will be held on the grounds of the Meeker Mansion at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 16.

Published in News Tribune (Tacoma) on June 28, 2017

Remembering Lori Price: Our Guide to the Past

history News newspaper excerpt

By Gale B. Robinette

Few people explored the history of the Puyallup Valley as thoroughly as Lori Price, whose articles about the community’s dynamic past were published by the Puyallup Herald for more than three decades.

Her stories were a bridge to countless yesteryears. Readers – including this writer – thrilled in crossing that bridge with her as their gentle guide. “I grew up in an age where a man’s (or woman’s) word was his bond, where a handshake was as good as a written contract…” she once wrote.

Lori Price, City of Puyallup HistorianLoretta (Lori) Price introduced us to people from banking, business, farming and other walks of life – historical pioneers all – for whom many Puyallup streets and schools are named today. She portrayed the past as a pretty good place and time. She reminded us that the past is the backdrop for the stage on which the present takes a bow. With her elegant storytelling, Lori focused a warm light of renewed vibrancy on figures and places of long ago. If not for her, their significance to our community might be lost to the ages. She cared too deeply to let them be forgotten, and for that we can be eternally grateful.

I had the privilege of serving as editor of the Herald for a while and meeting Lori several times. I would often go to a place she had written about to see how the location looked today in comparison to the black and white photograph that accompanied her article. This was my attempt to blend past and present, perhaps, and travel across time through my imagination.

Born in Kentucky, Lori spent most of her adult years in Puyallup. “I have found … that rain is necessary to my peace of mind, which indicates to me that I have finally, after 27 years, entered the ranks of the ‘natives’ of the Pacific Northwest,” she penned in 1986.

Her achievements included serving as president of the Ezra Meeker Historical Society (now the Puyallup Historical Society); being named City of Puyallup Historian by the City Council in 1986; and co-authoring with Ruth Anderson, “Puyallup: A Pioneer Paradise,” a definitive account of the Valley’s early days that has been reprinted several times. She was also a wife, a mother and a friend to many.

Lori died in January 2007 at age 82.

“An icon of the community, Ms. Price believed that history tells us about the current world in which we live, and that our search for meaning through historical records gives us a wiser understanding of who we are and what we are capable of achieving,” a Puyallup Herald editorial stated shortly after her passing. “We will miss her.”

We do indeed.

Lori’s writings and research were donated to, and are preserved for future generations by, the Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion at 312 Spring St. The Mansion is open from 12 to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. For more information, visit the Mansion online at or call (253) 848-1770.

About the writer: Gale B. Robinette is a member of the Puyallup Historical Society Board of Directors.

Century-Old Toledo Oregon Trail Marker Restored, Rededicated

Century-Old Toledo Oregon Trail Marker Restored, Rededicated

history News newspaper excerpt

CELEBRATION: Toledo Marker Is One of 11 Between Tumwater and Vancouver

Not all travelers on the Oregon Trail ended their journey in present-day Oregon.

Toward the end of the 1800s, many families got to Oregon to find it had already been heavily settled, said Rich Herman, president of the Northwest Oregon California Trail Association. Instead, they turned north. Some took the Cowlitz Trail and ended up traveling through Toledo.

“The new end of the Oregon Trail became wherever you ended up,” Herman said.
One-hundred years after the Daughters and Sons of the American Revolution placed a marker commemorating the town’s place on the Oregon Trail, members of the groups on Tuesday rededicated and revealed the restored trail marker.

“It took a lot of scrubbing, but we did it,” said Toledo Mayor Steve Dobosh, who helped with the marker’s restoration.

The Toledo marker is one of 11 between Tumwater and Vancouver, all placed by the DAR and SAR.

The groups organized a rededication ceremony Tuesday, including local officials, members of the groups, historians, volunteers and Oregon Trail enthusiasts. Many came dressed in period clothing.

“Everyone here has a passion for history,” Herman said.

When they decided to restore the Toledo trail marker, the Daughters of the American Revolution contacted Marion (Mick) Hersey, known for his work restoring monuments and markers.

Hersey taught the DAR members how to restore the plaque, which was re-dyed and covered in a polyurethane coating and a coat of wax and oil to protect it from the elements.

“All 11 markers, as of last Friday…have been restored.” Hersey said, giving volunteer Chuck Hornbuckle credit for his help. “This big thing is to honor and remember.”

Before its restoration, the marker was tarnished and difficult to read from years of wear, DAR members said.

Doug Nelson, president of the Washington State Sons of the American Revolution, shared stories of how his family crossed the Oregon Trail in 1882.

Settlers were lucky to travel 18-20 miles a day, he said. They traveled in large groups to avoid confrontations with Native American tribes and ran into cattle rustlers and other dangers.

Lanabeth Horgen, first vice regent of the Washington State DAR, also recounted her family’s history with the Oregon Trail.

“I was born and raised in Independence, Missouri,” she said, adding it was the jumping-off point for many westward travelers. “My family stayed there and that’s where we probably saw some of your families off.”

The event also included displays of the tools and equipment used to clean the marker, information about Ezra Meeker and the Oregon Trail, and a covered wagon.

Fourth-grade students from Toledo Elementary School participated in the event, placing rocks with their names on them near the marker.

Historian Dennis Larson discussed the history of the Toledo Monument, starting with a 1905 visit from Meeker, a man dedicated to mapping and preserving Oregon Trail history, to the placement of the marker by the DAR and SAR in 1916.

Several speakers thanked Toledo for the city’s part in the project, and commented on the marker’s purpose of recognizing history.

The marker is a “reminder of the sacrifice made by the pioneers who helped settle the Washington Territory,” Herman said.

by Natalie Johnson

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News from the Attic

News from the Attic

history News

Suzy Perkinson

A couple of years ago, while Audrey Neuendorf and I were cleaning out the unfinished attic on the third floor, we found some old light fixtures back in a corner. We took them out and decided to investigate them further. They were the old style light fixtures similar to what could have been in the mansion originally. We called them “transition lights” as they are made for both gas and electricity. What we found were two fixtures with four individual lights, two upright for gas and two pointed downward for electricity and five fixtures with two individual lights, one upright and one pointed down.  We have learned of the story that in 1890 when the mansion was completed, electricity was not available in Puyallup yet but it was thought to be coming soon.  So when the house was built, transition light fixtures were installed throughout the mansion so as to be ready to convert to power when it became available.

Luckily, we met a man who came by the mansion one day whose name is Everett Culp.  He specializes in the restoration of old light fixtures.  We made arrangements to meet with him so he could take a look at the found lights and give us an opinion as to their age, etc.  He was very informative and thought that the fixtures were of the age that the mansion was built. He was very excited about the lights and offered to rewire them at no cost to us so that we might hang them in the mansion one day.  He also arranged for us to purchase glass shades for the lights at his discount prices.

Everett did a wonderful job in the restoration of the lights. They looked beautiful when we he delivered them and we were excited have them installed and show them off. However, it took us a while to decide where in the mansion they would look the best.

Finally, on Monday, November 28th, Everett along with help from Neil Vincent installed all the lights, shades and bulbs in one day! We were very excited to show them off for our Evening at the Mansion when we recognize our volunteers on December 2nd.

We are very grateful to Everett for everything he has done for us. We were thrilled to have Everett and his wife , Jane, attend our annual Volunteer night so we could thank him and show our appreciation.

We cannot be sure that the light fixtures found in the attic are original to the mansion but we do know that they are very similar to what would have been there at the time the mansion was built.

Thanks again to Everett Culp!

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Chair owned by great-great-grandson of Ezra Meeker returned to Meeker Mansion

Chair owned by great-great-grandson of Ezra Meeker returned to Meeker Mansion

history News newspaper excerpt

Bruce Cadwell, great-great-grandson of Ezra Meeker, reunites a dining room chair with the Meeker Mansion on Oct. 10.   Joshua Bessex



For years, Bruce Cadwell had been using a chair passed down through his family as his desk chair in his home in Boise, Idaho.

“It was a cool chair,” said Cadwell, 76. “I was using it for my computer chair.”

Bruce Cadwell, left, stands for a portrait with his sister, Kerry Syverson, and the Meeker dining room chair at the Meeker Mansion in Puyallup on Oct. 10. “It was a cool chair,” said Cadwell, 76. “I was using it for my computer chair.”

As a great-great-grandson of Ezra Meeker, Cadwell thought the chair belonged to the Meeker family after it was passed down to him along with a desk in 2003, after his mother passed away.

On Oct. 10, Cadwell had a chance to make the trip to Puyallup to unite the chair with its long-ago home at Meeker Mansion.

This wasn’t the first time Cadwell traveled to Puyallup to return furniture. The desk, also belonging to the Meeker family, was returned by Cadwell to the mansion about 10 years ago.

The history, said Cadwell, is that Ezra and Eliza Meeker had possession of the desk and the chair since the Meeker family moved into the mansion in 1890. The furniture then passed down to the Meekers’ daughter, Ella, who gave it to her only daughter, Bertha.

When Bertha passed, the furniture came into the hands of her brother, Charles L. Templeton, a physician and the grandfather of Cadwell.

From there, Cadwell took ownership of the desk and chair through his parents.

“When my grandmother passed away my grandfather gave (the furniture) to my mother,” he said.

The desk made its return to Meeker Mansion around 2007, but the chair slipped under the radar. Andy Anderson, historian at Meeker Mansion, said that he knew the chair belonged to the Meeker family right away after he and Cadwell exchanged pictures.

The chair had the same curvature and shape as some of the dining room chairs at Meeker Mansion, Anderson said.

“We had three that matched it,” he said. “How wrong could you get?”

Even so, it took a while to get the chair back to Meeker Mansion.

“It took me years to say I have a chair for (Anderson),” joked Cadwell the day of the chair’s delivery. “I didn’t want to give it up. It’s very comfortable.”

Now, the chair sits in the dining room of the Meeker Mansion with its counterparts. One difference in Cadwell’s chair is the upholstery, which was changed around 30 years ago.

“This chair had the same leather (as the other Meeker chairs),” said Cadwell. “My mother was using it so much that they put new upholstery on it.”

meeker mansion chair bruce_caldwell
Bruce Cadwell, left, stands for a portrait with his sister, Kerry Syverson, and the Meeker dining room chair at the Meeker Mansion in Puyallup on Oct. 10. “It was a cool chair,” said Cadwell, 76. “I was using it for my computer chair.”
Joshua Bessex

But there’s another defining characteristic of Cadwell’s chair — it has armrests.

It’s possible that there might be a matching “Mr. and Mrs.” armrest chair out in the world, said Cadwell, but that it could be anywhere.

Anderson already knew about Cadwell’s relations to the Meeker family because of a contact list kept by the historical society, but that often, it’s hard to tell if a piece of furniture really did once belong to Ezra Meeker.

In May, a loveseat once belonging to the Meeker family made its return to the mansion by a great-great-granddaughter.

“Every once in awhile someone will call up,” Anderson said. “If it comes from the family, it’s a pretty sure thing. If it’s not, (claims) can get a little out there.”

Cadwell traveled to the Meeker Mansion with his wife, Linda, and his sister, Kerry Syverson, the great-great-granddaughter of Ezra Meeker and lives in Centralia.

“We’re tickled to have (Cadwell),” said Anderson. “We’re pleased to have (him) be a part of us and add (Syverson) to the family list.”

Now the dining room table at Meeker Mansion has a chair on each of its four sides.

“I’m sure they’re glad to be together again,” Cadwell said about the chairs.

Original article published in The News Tribune

Ezra Meeker statue in Puyallup was dedicated 90 years go today

Ezra Meeker statue in Puyallup was dedicated 90 years go today

history News newspaper excerpt

This photo features Ezra Meeker and 26 of his relatives, both direct descendants of him and many from his father’s second family. Puyallup Historical Society-Courtesy

Contributing writer

Mid-morning on September 14, 1926, 5,000 people, including the honoree, gathered in Pioneer Park to dedicate the statue of Ezra Meeker. It was Pioneer Day at the Fair, and many pioneers and their descendants came to town to participate in both events.

The image is of Ezra Meeker, but the statue is meant to symbolize all pioneers who occupied and “civilized” the Oregon Country so that it could be made part of the United States.

The idea of a statue appears in the public eye about 18 months before the dedication. The image was already in work by a Seattle sculptor, a committee was formed, an out-of-town fundraiser was hired to collect some $6,000 statewide, and plans for the dedication began to take shape. By May, still short of the required total, the plaster model was sent to New York to be cast in bronze.

Two photographs survive to document the celebration. The first, a large format Boland photo, reprinted as advertising by the Puyallup Main Street Association, was taken with a special camera with a moving lens. This is one of two known photos that document a large number of local residents at a moment in time. In the photo, one sees movie cameras set up to record the event, causing one to wonder where the footage might be found today. A group of Yakima Indians in native dress is seen against the backdrop of the Carnegie Library, which was torn down some 50 years ago.

Curiously, the statue does not belong to our community. At the dedication, Puyallup pioneer Charlie Ross, as the instigator of the project, presented the statue to the then-president of the Washington State Historical Society.

The second photo, taken shortly after the throngs of well-wishers had departed (and probably after the reception in the First Christian Church across the street), features Meeker and 26 of his relatives, both direct descendants of him and many from his father’s second family. The Historical Society recently shared the family photo with those Meeker relatives we are in touch with, and asked for help with identifications. We believe we can identify all but two of the people in this photo.

Curiously, the statue does not belong to our community. At the dedication, Puyallup pioneer Charlie Ross, as the instigator of the project, presented the statue to the then-president of the Washington State Historical Society. The president in turn asked Frank Spinning, of Sumner, to present it to the mayor of Puyallup for safekeeping.

The city has kept the statue in good condition, although today it is almost invisible to passers-by. Shielded from the road and from City Hall by the street trees that we all cherish, and from farmer’s market patrons by the concrete stanchions supporting the ivy vine marking the Meeker’ original cabin site for 150 years, the statue is easy to ignore.

We in the Historical Society will do our best to help the community celebrate the centennial of the dedication of the statue in another 10 years. Several of the family members have indicated they intend to be present as well. Now if only we could find those moving pictures …

Andy Anderson is the historian of the Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion. He can be contacted via email at or by phone through the Meeker Mansion at 253-848-1770.

Original article published in The News Tribune.

Loveseat once owned by Meeker family makes its return to Meeker Mansion

Loveseat once owned by Meeker family makes its return to Meeker Mansion

history News newspaper excerpt


Janet Kanter-Purcell remembers seeing Meeker Mansion for the first time in August of 1966.

As Ezra Meeker’s great-great-granddaughter, she has memories of her mother and grandmother always talking about the family’s former mansion in Puyallup. During the summer of 1966, Kanter-Purcell and her family stopped by the mansion while on a family vacation to the area from Southern California.

Since her visit in ‘66, Kanter-Purcell has always enjoyed making visits to the mansion, something her and her husband Duncan do annually. Their most recent pilgrimage to the mansion, on May 28, was extra special.

According to family lore, a loveseat purchased by Meeker in the 1800s in London, which he had shipped around the Horn of Africa to Washington, was in need of a new home.

Larry Templeton, a decedent of Meeker and Kanter-Purcell’s third cousin, recalls the loveseat being at his grandparents’ home in Albany, Oregon in about 1945.

“At that time, they told me that it had belonged to Ezra Meeker, whom they both knew fairly well,” he said. “When my Templeton grandparents died, the loveseat was shipped to my parents’ home in Sun City, Arizona, where it sat for another several decades.”

The loveseat was refinished by his mother, and Templeton hung on to the loveseat for a few more years at his home north of San Francisco. When the time came for Templeton to downsize, he contacted the mansion to find a home for the bench.

The mansion put Templeton in touch with Kanter-Purcell, a long lost cousin. Kanter-Purcell then made the trek from her home in Camino, California to Templeton’s, in Santa Rosa, California, to pick up the loveseat.

Janet Kanter-Purcell, great-great-grandaughter of Ezra Meeker

Kanter-Purcell and her family try to do everything they can to support Meeker Mansion and the Puyallup Historical Society.

“I love every member of the historical society,” she said. “They’re so friendly that it’s like an extended family to me. They are the most fun, and creative and ambitious people. They have so many ideas going all the time. I enjoy every minute of (being involved).”

Bob Minnich, president of the Meeker Mansion and Puyallup Historical Society, says the loveseat is currently on display in the upstairs parlor of the mansion.

The mansion doesn’t have too much of Meeker’s furniture, as once Ezra and Eliza died, the home was left to their eldest daughter, and the furniture was divided equally amongst the five children. This meant all of the original furniture in the home has been scattered amongst decedents of the Meekers, but the pieces have slowly made their way back to the mansion over time.

Read the story at The News Tribune.

Meeker Mansion Loveseat Returned

Mystery unsolved: Is that really one of Puyallup founder Ezra Meeker’s rocking chairs?

Mystery unsolved: Is that really one of Puyallup founder Ezra Meeker’s rocking chairs?

history News newspaper excerpt

A humble rocking chair that might once have belonged to Puyallup pioneer Ezra Meeker has been returned to — maybe — its rightful home.

The chair had been in the possession of Puyallup native Grant Pelesky’s family since the 1950s. The family story is that it once belonged to Meeker, the founder of Puyallup.

Pelesky and his wife recently downsized, and he decided that donating the chair to the Meeker Mansion was the right thing to do.

Read the rest of the story here: Full News Tribune Article

Meeker Mansion Highlighted on the Travel Channel

Meeker Mansion Highlighted on the Travel Channel

fundraising history News

See a news segment done by KIROTV that highlights the Meeker Mansion, the episode on the Travel Channel and the Puyallup Historical Society’s hope for support from the Legislature.

You can also watch the episode on the Travel Channel, “Witchfinder General” which first aired Thursday, March 24th. Ezra Meeker, the Meeker Mansion and his trek across the Oregon Trail are in the last segment of the episode.  If you have a cable subscription you can watch it online here:

Mysterias at the Castle, Ezra Meeker, Oregon Trail