Marine Corps, Vietnam shaped Jerry Pearson’s servant nature

May 21, 2014

In a small box that’s usually tucked away in his home library, Issaquah attorney Jerry Pearson has several keepsakes from his three-year stint in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Among the items are a set of dog tags made to commemorate three of his fellow Marines; a brass dragon head he found in a village; and the two Purple Hearts he was awarded for combat-related wounds in Vietnam.

The dragon head, in particular, brings back a flood of memories for Pearson, who was born in Seattle before moving to Issaquah as a small child in 1951. He associates it with Ron Dexter and Lester Bell, two members of the Fifth Marine Division who were shipped to the jungles of Southeast Asia and never came home.

By Neil Pierson Issaquah native Jerry Pearson, surrounded by legal texts at his Pearson Law Firm office, is more than 40 years removed from his duties as a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

By Neil Pierson
Issaquah native Jerry Pearson, surrounded by legal texts at his Pearson Law Firm office, is more than 40 years removed from his duties as a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

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Join ‘Civil War Reader’s Theater’ on April 12

April 8, 2014

Come hear and participate in a dramatic performance of the Washington Territory’s Civil War connections April 12.

The free event starts at 1 p.m. at the Train Depot Museum, 78 First Ave. N.E.

The Issaquah History Museums has partnered with Humanities Washington to invite the community to “Territorial Voices, A Civil War Reader’s Theater,” an engaging conversation with historian Lorraine McConaghy, a member of the 2012-14 Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau.

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Off the Press

February 14, 2012

To our Hall of Famer and MVP, Bob Taylor

Hey Bob,

Greg Farrar Press photographer

You are an awesome sports editor, and your decision to bow out on March 9 to pursue your book-writing projects is going to make my transition from black-and-white film to color-digital photography seem like a piece of cake.

Thank you so much for the 12 years of wisdom and experience you have brought to your sports section. We hardly deserved to have you, considering your 19 “and-a-half” previous years covering Eastside sports for the old Journal-American. Any daily newspaper around Puget Sound would have been a better one with you on its staff.

It always amazed me when covering an event with you to see how grown dads and even coaches would approach you to reminisce about the times you covered their own high school athletic careers. You’re like the living encyclopedia of Eastside sports, and whenever it was relevant, any story you wrote could link to the past of a school’s athletic program.

We’ve had more time on the road together than I’ve spent with any other reporter in this business. No trip to Bellingham, Tacoma or Yakima ever seemed too long as we gabbed away the miles. I learned about your growing up in the southwest corner of the state, your awesome love for your wife Pauline and son David, and how you’ve worked with quite a few interesting characters, some sober and some inebriated, over the years.

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Friend describes Issaquah gunman as kind, laidback guy

October 4, 2011

Conversation offered clue to mental turmoil

The reason Ronald W. Ficker engaged in a fatal gun battle against Issaquah police at Clark Elementary School continues to elude detectives, but the gunman’s self-described best friend said the only clue to the incident came less than 48 hours before the Sept. 24 shootout.

Ronald Ficker

Mark Risdon, Ficker’s longtime friend, last spoke to the gunman just after 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 — the night before police said Ficker rented a silver Kia Forte at a Seattle rental car counter.

The vehicle surfaced in Issaquah the next morning after police said the sedan stalled along Interstate 90 and again near a downtown intersection. Police fatally shot Ficker on the Clark Elementary campus at about 11:40 a.m. Sept. 24.

“The content of our conversation gave me a lot of concern,” Risdon said. “He just wasn’t making sense. He was talking, he was saying something about going into outer space.”

Risdon suggested watching a movie the next night, but in the end, decided not to call Ficker after the odd interaction. In the conversation, Ficker did not mention plans to rent a car or travel.

“I was kind of afraid to call him, because the conversation that we had Thursday was, well, alarming,” Risdon said. “I wish I had called him.”

Risdon said he attempted — but failed — to reach Ficker’s physician to discuss the episode. Risdon said Ficker had not said anything similar before the Sept. 22 conversation.

“When I talked to him Thursday, I was asking him questions in kind of a roundabout way — if he had been to his doctor recently, if he was having a bad reaction to any kind of a new medication or something,” he continued. “It just seemed like he was having, maybe, a medication reaction or something.”

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Connections link Issaquah to Civil War 150 years after conflict started

August 30, 2011

George Tibbetts and William Goode were just teenagers. If they lived today, the future Issaquah residents might have been concerned with such important details as saving to purchase a car. Tibbetts might even have been anxious about getting prepared for a prom or studying for the SATs.

Issaquah history museums Some of Issaquah’s earliest settlers were Civil War veterans, including local Grand Army of the Republic members (above) and three of the their granddaughters, shown circa 1900. Issaquah History Museums

But 150 years ago, the nation was quite different than it is today. It was a nation divided.

With the election of Abraham Lincoln as president, 11 Southern states led by South Carolina seceded from the nation. Lincoln had pledged to halt the spread of slavery, a stand that was unpopular in the South. The Southern states formed their own country — the Confederate States of America.

Everyone in the North and in the South knew it was just a matter of time before there would be war. On April 12, 1861, Confederate troops under Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard fired cannons on Fort Sumter and the war began.

Three days later, President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to serve the Union for 90 days. However, it soon became obvious that further troops would be needed and the president called for the enlistment of 100,000 troops to serve for three years.

Among those who answered the president’s call to arms were Tibbetts, 16, and Goode, 19.

Tibbetts, who was born in Maine but was sent to live with an aunt in New Hampshire when he was 4, was assigned to Company F, Fourth New Hampshire Infantry. He enlisted as a private and rose to be a sergeant by the time he was discharged.

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Birthday celebration helps others with rare developmental disorder

July 19, 2011

Dalean Pack prepares to blow out the candles on her 23rd birthday cake. By Dale Pack

Dalean Pack smiled as friends and family wished her a happy 23rd birthday at the Lake Sammamish Elks Lodge No. 1843 on June 16. But the party was more than just a birthday celebration.

Dalean, who was diagnosed with pachygyria soon after birth, is the Washington Elks Therapy Program for Children poster girl. The party was also a fundraiser for the program.

Dalean, of Preston, was originally diagnosed with lissencephaly, a gene-linked brain malformation that results in the absence of folds, called gyri, in the cerebral cortex.

“Doctors said she wouldn’t make it past her first year,” Dalean’s father Dale Pack said.

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Off the Press

May 24, 2011

Here’s to those who help us remember

Sometimes we all need a little reminder. Thank goodness we have people like Dave Waggoner in the Issaquah community.

Bob Taylor Press sports editor

Waggoner, a quartermaster in the Issaquah Veterans of Foreign Wars post, once left a small U.S. flag at the office so I would always remember Memorial Day. The flag still flies above my desk.

Each year, Waggoner, members of the VFW post and local Boy Scouts plant flags and/or crosses on the graves of former veterans at Hillside Cemetery for Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Waggoner makes sure these former vets are remembered.

Waggoner expressed a concern in an April Issaquah Press story that people are forgetting U.S. veterans. With Memorial Day coming up, none of us should forget veterans, especially those in our family.

I do a roll call every Memorial Day, setting aside some time to remember the veterans in my family.

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Uncover the dark side of Issaquah

February 15, 2011

Vehicles streak through the darkness in downtown Issaquah. By Greg Farrar

The tree-lined suburb of today evolved from a frontier town of sinister secrets

Welcome to Issaquah!

On your left, you’ll see the Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-In!

On your right, you’ll find the Village Theatre!

Oh look, over there is the beloved Issaquah Salmon Hatchery!

A typical tour of town might go something like that, detailing the proud past of a historic city.

What about the strange, seedy and sinister history of this former frontier town? What about the ominous undertones? Not many tours take you down the alleys of the city or expose what had been its underbelly.

But this one does, and it will tell you about some of the most notable incidents that occurred here in the decades after white settlers arrived in the 1850s. Murders. Bombings. Fires. Explosions. Abductions. Plus, plenty of other mayhem.

Get in your DeLorean and prepare to tickle your morbid curiosity, because we’re headed straight to the past and into the dark side of Issaquah.

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Readers digest novel at book club supper

January 18, 2011

The members of a local book club sit down to one of their regular dinners to discuss ‘My Name is Mary Sutter,’ which they spent six weeks reading before meeting their invited guest, Issaquah author Robin Oliveira. By Greg Farrar

The women could not stop talking about Mary Sutter — the 20-year-old midwife who left home to train as a surgeon during the Civil War.

Mary Sutter’s creator, Issaquah author Robin Oliveira, sat demurely on a chair near the kitchen counter, listening to the book club gab about her book between answering questions about her research and characters.

The Issaquah book club had spent the past six weeks reading, “My Name is Mary Sutter,” a fictional account of a woman aspiring to learn about medicine and surgery in the 1860s. Book club member Debbie Bichsel invited author Oliveira to join the discussion of her book at the group’s Jan. 11 meeting. Read more

Downtown Issaquah welcomes Santa at tree lighting

November 30, 2010

Santa Claus poses with Snoqualmie resident Ellen Ke and her daughter, Carol Gong, as husband and father Jeffrey Gong snaps a photo, during the 2009 Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Pedestrian Park. By Greg Farrar

Carolers and artists add holiday magic to Christmas kickoff

Though nighttime darkness falls at about 4:30 p.m. this time of year, Issaquah’s annual Christmas tree lighting is poised to light up the night with colorful ornaments, caroling, hot cider and cookies.

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