A group of individuals, caring about the area history, came together first in 1976. This event is commemorated in our telephone number 360-533-1976. Two years later, The Friends of the Aberdeen Museum incorporated as the non-profit 501c3 they are today. Using the City owned collection, they purchased needed display cases and materials and had the museum ready to open in 1981.
The original Friends had varied backgrounds but had historical roots in Grays Harbor:
James Stewart was raised in a family that originally settled on the lower Wishkah. Stewart’s Ball Field & James Stewart Memorial Park are named for his father. “Jimmy” practiced law in the area for many years.
Emily Airhart came from Malinowski stock who settled on the upper Wishkah in the early 1900’s. The Malinowski Dam which supplies the city’s water from the upper Wishkah River is named for her uncle, Joseph Malinowski. Emily was the last original founder still volunteering until 3 weeks before her death in February of 2018.
Louise Fairbairn was raised in Hoquiam, where her father served as Mayor. Louise was known for many years by all the area’s sports teams as a frequent confident. She & her husband, known to all as Bus, cared for and resided at the Natatorium pool, basketball court & football stadium. There door was always open and frequently used!
Cy Gonigam was not from the area but he pastor-ed the First Congregational Church. It was from the original 1890 Congregational church building that the beautiful Pioneer & No Cross No Crown stained glass windows and large bell were later moved to the Aberdeen Armory museum.
A lot is not known about the other founding members and we ask that family members of these individuals provide us with their histories.
Art Beck was a member of the Ancient Mariner Group at the GH Historical Seaport. He was also instrumental in the rebuilding of Museum gift shop.
Al Brecht graduated from Weatherwax in 1936. Al was employed by Ocean Sprayfor 43 years. He was a member of the Eagles, Sons of Norway, a volunteer for the Aberdeen Police Dept and a member of the Pioneer Association.
Connie White was employed by Penney’s.
William (Bill) Vogler was the Grays Harbor County official.
Sally McClean was employed by Reiner’s.
Dorothy Mann ran a catering business.
The Friends & City were ready to open the Aberdeen Museum of History in 1982. The original group had been joined by a number of others including the lead librarian, Rosalie Spellman; and a volunteer curator, Lynn Daneker (Retired from the Carpenter’s Union).
Lynn obtained carpenter volunteers who created the “walk through a town” buildings placed along the Armory walls. Many years later with the city’s backing, the group felt financially stable enough to hire a curator. Dann Sears, who was originally from Aberdeen, returned from the east to accept the position.
A good friend of the museum, Bob McCausland, decorated several walls in the museum with his remarkable murals.
Throughout their history, the Friends have managed the donated City collection. Friends raised money to pay operating costs and buy equipment such as display cases, tables & chairs for events, computers, as well as, for printing and advertising. The Friends goal has been, and remains, making the area’s history available and interesting to visitors and citizens of all ages.
In 2016 the Friends decided to put more emphasis on the preservation of the photographic collection. Dann Sears accepted the photographic archivist position. The Friends hired Dave Morris as the new Museum Director/Curator.
The Friends meet the first Tuesday of the month at 6 pm. Meetings are held at their office at the Art Center, Market & K with entrance on the K Street side. You can also find information about what’s happening by checking this web site, our Facebook page or calling 360-533-1976.
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