Issaquah burglary offers lesson in vigilance

August 14, 2012

The call from the Issaquah Police Department interrupted dinner at Pogacha for Fred and Mardi Nystrom, longtime residents in the Sycamore neighborhood south of downtown.

The officer on the line asked if the Nystroms expected any family members to leave their home through a bedroom window.

“I told him, ‘Not our family, man, we wouldn’t fit through that window,’” Fred Nystrom recalled Aug. 13.

They rushed home July 6 to discover their home had been burglarized. The thief shimmied into the home through a small bedroom window left open in the July heat, and stole jewelry, computers and family heirlooms.

“Most of what she stole from me were memories,” Fred Nystrom said.

Police later identified the suspect as Jackie Jean Johnston, 45, a SeaTac resident with a long rap sheet.

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High school sweethearts celebrate platinum anniversary, 70 years of marriage

August 7, 2012

Lorraine and Bud Cochran enjoy summer from the wicker patio swing at their home near Issaquah High School.
By Greg Farrar

Bud Cochran used to walk more than a mile to see his sweetheart Lorraine back when they were students at Puyallup High School in the late 1930s. With no car and a girlfriend that lived on the opposite side of town, the trek became a familiar path for the love-struck Bud.

“It didn’t seem far at all,” he said. “I was just smitten.”

Seven decades later, the two longtime Issaquah residents are still together, having celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary May 2. Sitting in their cozy ranch-style home situated next to Issaquah High School, Bud, 90, and Lorraine, 88, fondly reminisced about their eventful 70 years together.

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What is the Festival of New Musicals?

August 7, 2012

The summertime festival at Village Theatre is a laboratory to test original musicals before audiences.

Often, selections from the festival re-emerge later at the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, or Mainstage, and sometimes on Broadway.

The festival introduced audiences to “Next to Normal” precursor “Feeling Electric” and “Million Dollar Quartet” before the musicals carted off Tony Awards on Broadway. “Next to Normal” also garnered the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a rarity for musicals.

The recent Mainstage productions “Take Me America” and “It Shoulda Been You” debuted to Issaquah audiences at the festival.

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See ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ for free

July 31, 2012

“Captain America: The First Avenger” comes to Issaquah soon for the summertime Movie on the Green.

The film starts at 8 p.m. Sept. 8 on the Issaquah Community Center lawn, 301 Rainier Blvd. S. The free event is presented by the municipal Parks & Recreation Department and Lunar Flicks.

Lunar Flicks provides the inflatable screen and the digital projectors to screen the film.

Released last year, “Captain America: The First Avenger” features Chris Evans as the title character, a patriotic crusader unleashed against the Nazis — and super-villain Red Skull — in World War II. Tommy Lee Jones stars as a gruff colonel; Hayley Atwell is Peggy Carter, Captain America’s love interest.

(Evans’ character later popped up in the summer mega-blockbuster “The Avengers.”)

The film runs for 124 minutes, so attendees should bring a blanket or lawn chair to remain comfortable during the event. Organizers also plan to sell concessions during the film.

“Captain America: The First Avenger” is rated PG-13.

American Hero Quilts Galleria offers thanks to Iraq, Afghanistan veterans

July 17, 2012

Bellewood Retirement Center residents Ursula Tueffers (from left), Merle Klavano, Herb Lyons and Peggy Duncan unfold a quilt that will be displayed with others in the galleria display space for four weeks before being sent to soldiers. By Greg Farrar

She never heard his voice.

She never shook his hand or gave him a hug.

She didn’t even know his name until after he hanged himself.

But the story of Ken Dennis, a 22-year-old Marine who took his short life in 2004 after serving in Iraq, still haunts Sue Nebeker eight years later.

“He and his dad were at the mall,” she said, “and his dad said he looked around and said, ‘You know, I don’t fit in here anymore. I can’t do this. I’ve seen too much.’”

Nebeker would first learn of the Marine’s story in “The War Comes Home: Rifleman couldn’t take any more,” an August 2004 Seattle Post-Intelligencer article about Dennis’ struggle — facing the challenges of a recently discharged serviceman. And while most people would absorb the information and move on, Nebeker knew she had to do something.

That’s when she started American Hero Quilts, a project that aims to ensure wounded veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan come home to a tangible thank you through the warmth and comfort of a patriotic quilt. Nebeker vows to continue the project until U.S. forces are out of Afghanistan, and she is working to make quilts available to Vietnam veterans as well.

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Off the Press

July 10, 2012

Christina Lords
Press reporter

Remembering Mr. Bentz

There are few better aspects of this job than sitting down with the likes of William Bentz.

A 92-year-old World War II veteran who spent much of his Army service in the South Pacific, William constructed and supervised pump stations to ensure those fighting the enemy in the Air Force had ample fuel.

William, his wife Onadee and their daughter Judy welcomed me into their Issaquah home at Providence Point one May afternoon so I could tell William’s story of service for The Issaquah Press’ annual Lest We Forget Memorial Day section. The section highlights and honors every Issaquah veteran of which we’re aware.

On June 18, I received a call from William’s nephew, who informed me that William had passed away the day before — less than one month after I interviewed him.

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World War II nurse treated wounded soldiers at decisive battles

May 22, 2012

In the distance, not far from beaches along Sainte-Maxime, a city along the Mediterranean Sea, a battle raged to liberate France from Nazi occupation.

Lucille Lundstrom

Offshore, a ship painted a radiant white girded for the inevitable casualties — incoming soldiers suffering from gunshot and shrapnel wounds. The crew aboard spent the months beforehand preparing for service in a combat zone.

The complement of nurses aboard the ship, U.S. Army Hospital Ship Marigold, included 21-year-old Lucille Lennart, a compassionate young woman from tiny Everson, near the border between Washington and British Columbia.

Nowadays, Lucille Lennart is Lucille Lundstrom, a retired nurse and resident at Providence Point in Issaquah. Like other World War II veterans — a group dubbed “The Greatest Generation” by journalist Tom Brokaw — Lundstrom is humble about the years she served aboard the Marigold.

“I thought I should,” she said in a recent interview. “There was a war on.”

Lundstrom served as a nurse aboard the Marigold — a cruise liner converted for wartime use — as the ship sailed around the globe and joined more than 350,000 American women in military service amid World War II.

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Issaquah man established fuel stations in the South Pacific during World War II

May 22, 2012

When William Bentz enlisted in the U.S. Army in July 1943 to serve in history’s most widespread world war, modern technological communication did not yet exist.

William Bentz, a 92-year-old World War II veteran, holds a collection of materials he obtained while visiting the rededication of the National WWII Memorial in May 2004 in Washington, D.C. By Christina Lords

That meant no cellphones, no Skype, no email.

What he and his wife Onadee did have, however, was V-Mail. Short for Victory Mail, the hybrid mail system used by Americans in World War II to securely correspond with soldiers stationed abroad.

“I wrote what they call V letters,” he said. “During the war times, instead of having your 8.5 by 10 legal paper, they reduced them down … those days you couldn’t run to the computer to get it across and I was certainly too far away to yell.”

William Bentz reported for active duty at Fort Lewis before taking on firefighting training at a WWII U.S. Army camp called Camp Claiborne in Louisiana.

Bentz opted to be what was called service personnel instead of in the infantry because he had a wife and infant at home.

It took 25 days via naval ship to get to his first long-term destination during the war — New Guinea.

“A lot of people don’t think about it, but there were 2,500 to 3,000 troops up there, but they zigzagged going across the Pacific because of submarines,” he said regarding a maneuver that was supposed to make ships harder targets to hit. “Coming home was a different story, of course.”

After spending seven months in New Guinea, he served in the 781st Engineer Petroleum Distribution Company on Leyte Island in the Philippines.

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World War II veteran recalls ‘Forgotten Battle’

May 22, 2012

Historians refer to the Aleutian Islands campaign as the Forgotten Battle.

Norman Peery served on the destroyer USS Jarvis for a year and a half in the harsh Aleutian Island chain off Alaska during World War II, and continues to serve his fellow veterans at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3436 events in Issaquah. By Greg Farrar

The battle occurred amid roiling seas and pea-soup fog in the chain of islands stretched between North America and Asia at almost the same time as the Battle of Guadalcanal started thousands of miles to the south.

Guadalcanal is engrained in history, but the Aleutian Islands campaign is almost relegated to a footnote.

Not for local veteran Norman Peery.

For Peery, 86, World War II meant rough seas in the Aleutian Islands and, in postwar military service, smooth sailing to occupied Japan.

The retired Boeing electrician participated in the Aleutian Islands campaign, a bitter struggle over the islands between the United States and Japan.

The islands stretch for more than 1,200 miles from the Alaskan Peninsula and form a dividing line between the Bering Strait and the North Pacific Ocean.

Peery entered the U.S. Navy on Dec. 16, 1943, and served 18 months in the remote island chain aboard the USS Jarvis, a destroyer. (The ship was built at a Seattle shipyard in 1943-44.)

“There was a lot of rough water, believe me,” Peery said in a recent interview. “If you’ve ever been up in that water, you know.”

The destroyer plied the water off Adak and Attu. The islands hosted fierce fighting in the campaign.

“The water up there was so rough that you had to stand in the kitchen and put an arm around a post at dinner and hang on to that post and eat with the other hand,” he said. “That was kind of hard.”

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120 years of Issaquah

April 24, 2012

Click on the image to view the full-size timeline.


  • Issaquah is founded as Gilman. The city is named for railroad baron Daniel Hunt Gilman.


  • The postmaster called for mail sent to Gilman to be addressed to Olney, Wash., to avoid confusion between Gilman and Gilmer, another city in the state.


  • Townsfolk start calling the frontier town Issaquah, or “the sound of water birds” in the language of the American Indians native to the region.


  • State lawmakers approve official name change from Gilman to Issaquah.


  • Wilbur W. Sylvester founds the Bank of Issaquah in a clapboard building.

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