Meet the Board: Janet McKinnon

Do you know who’s running the show at the Washington State Genealogical Society? Did you know we have an Executive Committee, six standing committee chairs and three appointed non-elected officers? Who are all these people? In the coming months, we’ll introduce them to you, so you can say “hi” the next time you see them.

Janet McKinnon

In today’s “Meet the Board” series, we’re introducing you to Janet McKinnon from Richland (Benton County). You might recognize the McKinnon name — she and her husband Mikal (Immediate Past President of WSGS) have been active in WSGS business for many years. Currently, Janet is WSGS’s Region 6 Representative for Adams, Asotin, Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Garfield, Walla Walla and Whitman Counties. Janet’s also a proud member of the Tri-City Genealogical Society where she has served as vice president and program chair. And if that’s not enough, she’s been the Librarian at the Richland Family History Center since 2000, helping patrons with their genealogy research. No wonder she was named a Washington State Genealogical Society Outstanding Volunteer in 2012!

Janet’s Grandmother Kate (on the right) watching her mother Emma get a picture taken next to a new car. Emma walked across the Mormon / Oregon Trail as a 13-year-old girl.

Janet’s 2x great grandmother (mother of Emma). This is the earliest female ancestor that Janet has a picture of.

It all began when little Janet Lemon was born in Coleville, Utah, the first of four children (and only daughter) of Karl and Bessie (Kirkham) Lemon. She was named after her mother’s middle name. Janet graduated from North Cache High School (Utah) in 1961 and entered the Utah State University that fall. On December 18, 1964, Janet married her partner for eternity Mikal A. McKinnon in the Logan temple. After their graduation from USU, the couple moved to California, then to Washington in 1975.

December 1964

Janet and Mikal are the parents of five children: four sons and a daughter. Their Down Syndrome son lives with them. They’re also the loving grandparents of 13 from a 10-year-old Boy Scout to a college graduate granddaughter.

Janet’s interest in genealogy started with her mother and her family. While Janet’s mother didn’t do formal research, she loved and valued her ancestors. Her father (Janet’s grandfather) pioneered areas of genealogy for the Genealogical Society of Utah. He and other family members did the research and shared it. Janet’s mother shared the stories that she heard first hand from the pioneer generation, and passed those stories on to Janet. Even today, Janet’s greatest interest is in family stories, photos, memories and sharing them.

Janet uses for much of her research, especially for her early American and English ancestors. One of her most interesting genealogical finds was a Civil War record for the son of a “Dependent Mother” listed in the pension books.

A few more interesting tidbits about Janet:

  • Favorite color: red
  • Favorite dessert: ice cream
  • When asked the word that best describes her, she replied, “friendly.”

Now you know a little more about another of the WSGS Board members. The next time you see Janet, say hello and thank her for her service to WSGS.

How to Post on the Blog

Do you want to broadcast information about your local society, workshop, genealogical tip, or a research query? Just post to the WSGS Blog! You can reach hundreds of genealogists from around the state. Just email a Word document, text file, PDF or graphic to and the blog masters will do the rest.

We’re always looking to publicize local events and workshops, feature stories, updates from your society, and other genealogical information that might be of interest to our many subscribers.

We hope to hear from you soon! And don’t forget to encourage your Society members to subscribe to the Blog for the most up-to-date information from around the state.

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Nancy Bonafede Named Region 1 North Representative

Nancy Bonafede

Nancy Bonafede of Sedro Woolley has been appointed the WSGS Representative for Region 1 North by President Virginia Majewski. Nancy has been a member of Skagit Valley Genealogical Society for more than 10 years. She has also been the volunteer coordinator for the library collection at the Burlington library.

Region 1 North includes Skagit, Whatcom, San Juan Counties and parts of Island and Snohomish Counties. There is still a vacancy for Region 1 South which includes parts of Island and Snohomish Counties. For more information about the responsibilities of the Regional Representative, click here.

Nancy will be featured in a future “Meet the Board” story. Welcome to the Board, Nancy!

Like Dirty Socks, Cancer Stinks!

Kim Wyman

“Like dirty socks, cancer stinks!” Those are the words written on one of the nearly 100 paper socks sent to Kim Wyman, Washington’s Secretary of State who is undergoing treatment for colon cancer. Her latest update is available here.

To show support and encouragement, Kim suggested that people take a photo of their silly socks and post it on her Facebook page with the hashtag #wymanrocksthesocks. Because Kim is such a good friend to our genealogy community, WSGS decided to take it one step further, asking its members to sign a paper sock and send it to her to show how much we care.

We’re encouraging you to take a photo of you in your silliest socks and post it on social media (don’t forget the hashtag #wymanrocksthesocks). OR you can e-mail a photo of your socks to for posting in their online gallery.

The Secretary of State’s office oversees a number of areas within state government, including elections, the State Library and the State Archives.


Judy Russell in Tacoma Today – Saturday, 29 April

Ignore today’s sunshine! I know that’s hard to do, considering the long winter we’ve had, but you won’t be sorry if you get yourself to Tacoma’s LaQuinta Inn & Suites to hear Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist. The Tacoma-Pierce County Genealogical Society is hosting this nationally acclaimed lawyer/genealogist. Wickedly funny, sharp as a tack — not to be missed.

Walk-in registration starts at 8:00 a.m. ($45, cash or check only). Cindy Ingle kicks off the day at 9:00, then Judy will educate and entertain you for the rest of the day. If you need more convincing, check out the flyer.

Tacoma-Pierce County Spring Seminar on Saturday

Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist, is coming! And it’s not too late to be wow’d by her!

The Tacoma-Pierce County Genealogical Society’s Spring Seminar promises to be a great one with Judy. You can register at the door — only $45 (cash or check only, please) on Saturday, April 29 at the La Quinta Inn and Suites, 1425 East 27th Street in Tacoma. Doors open at 8:00 a.m.

Join us beginning at 9:00 a.m., to hear Cyndi Ingle (yes — THAT Cyndi!) introduce Judy who will educate and entertain us about:

  • No Vitals? No Problem! — Building a Family through Circumstantial Evidence
  • When Worlds Collide: Resolving Conflicts in Genealogical Records
  • “Don’t Forget the Ladies” — A Genealogist’s Guide to Women and the Law
  • Beyond X and Y: The Promise and Pitfalls of Autosomal DNA Testing

For more information, download the seminar brochure: 2017TPCGSSeminarBrochure

WSGS Awards Announced at Annual Meeting in Yakima

Many thanks are extended to the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society for hosting the WSGS Annual Meeting and Awards Event on Saturday, 22 April 2017. The annual meeting was held in conjunction with YVGS’s Spring Seminar featuring Jay Fonkert, a Minnesota-based genealogy researcher, educator, and writer who focuses on nineteenth-century Midwest research. Nearly 90 people attended the seminar and annual meeting.

WSGS Vice President Donna Phillips presenting Outstanding Volunteer Award to Patricia McCann Manning from the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society.

Region 6 Representative Janet McKinnon presenting an Outstanding Team member award to husband Mikal McKinnon for his work on the Tri-City Genealogical Society’s Library Recataloging and Renumbering Team.

During the annual meeting and awards lunch, nearly 40 local society members were recognized with Outstanding Volunteer and Team awards. These volunteers were praised for their commitment and energies to promote genealogy and family history in their local communities.

Some of the 2017 local society award winners

Other awards presented included:

  • Outstanding CommunicationWhitman County Genealogical Society for its newsletter filled with personal stories, photos and “snippets from the olden days.” Their newsletter started on in 1984 with just a few pages focusing on Whitman County. Today the newsletter is 10 pages with a continued focus on the county, but has expanded to include a wide variety of genealogy-related articles, designed to educate and entertain the society’s members and other readers. Special acknowledgement was extended to newsletter editor Judy Standar McMurray, with assistance from Monica Bartlett Peters.
  • Outstanding ProjectGrays Harbor Genealogical Society for the preservation of thousands of records from a 100-year-old funeral home that closed suddenly. The records were in danger of being lost or discarded until the society stepped in. Twelve boxes of paper were organized, scanned, cataloged and indexed into 19 binders. While this was an effort tackled by almost half of this small society, special recognition was extended to Cathy Cook, Gary Parfitt, Marlene Payne and Bonnie Johannes.

Five local societies were awarded Innovative Grant Awards. See separate blog feature.

The President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement was presented to Joanne Egbert Calhoun of the Wenatchee Area Genealogical Society. See separate blog feature.

For more photos of the seminar and annual meeting, visit our Facebook page.

Local Societies Awarded Innovative Grants

In an announcement made at the WSGS Annual Meeting on 22 Apr 2017 in Yakima, five local societies were  awarded Innovative Grants.

  1. WSGS President Virginia Majewski (middle) presenting an Innovative Grant to Eastern Washington Genealogical Society members Pat Ayers and Mary Holcomb

    Eastside Genealogical Society – to support the scanning and preservation of the society’s historical records for posting on their website.

  2. Eastern Washington Genealogical Society– the purchase of gravestones for nearly forgotten Civil War veterans in the local historic Evergreen Cemetery.
  3. Tri-City Genealogical Society– labeling equipment to provide labels for more than 3,000 books in their research library.
  4. Wenatchee Area Genealogical Society– support of promotional events with genealogy-related themes in WAGS’ “Community Connections” program.
  5. Whitman County Genealogical Society– upgrade office equipment in their research library for safety and efficiency reasons.

The Innovative Grant program was started in 2015 to support the inventive and creative efforts of local societies and organizations. When created, Recognition Chair Roxanne Lowe explained, “We know that local societies can do a lot with very little, so we’re hoping the Innovative Grant Program will be what you need to jump-start a project that has been dreamed about for some time.”

More information about the Innovative Grant program, including a Guidance Document, is available here. A blog article with a list of the 2015 and 2016 recipients and their projects is available here.

For more information, contact Roxanne Lowe, WSGS Recognition Chair at

Joanne Calhoun Honored with President’s Award

President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement honoree Joanne Egbert Calhoun

In an announcement made at the WSGS Annual Meeting on 22 Apr 2017, Joanne Egbert Calhoun was awarded the WSGS President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement. The award, made by WSGS President Virginia Majewski, is designed to single out that rare individual, society or organization that has demonstrated exemplary service above and beyond expectations. And Joanne certainly exemplifies that.

Veterans memorial shrine, Wenatchee City Cemetery

Joanne has been a member of the Wenatchee Area Genealogical Society (WAGS) and its predecessor since 1945, and is often called the “glue” that has kept the society active and strong.  Her willingness to serve as WAGS Treasurer for over 40 years, as well as president for three years, demonstrates exemplary service above and beyond expectations.

Over the years, Joanne has recorded and indexed cemeteries in Chelan and Douglas Counties, as well as indexed 38 years of society’s “Appleland Bulletin” (1972 – 2010). But a few years ago, she really stepped up her involvement, turning a community project that began with the observation, “somebody ought to…” into a full-time commitment.  She identified and collected the histories of World War I veterans once honored in an American Legion Memorial Shrine located at the Veterans’ Memorial Hall, which, sadly, was abandoned when the Hall was destroyed by fire. In 2009, representatives of WAGS, the Wenatchee Valley Museum and the City of Wenatchee arranged for relocation of the memorial building to a place of honor in the Veterans’ section of the Wenatchee City Cemetery.  Joanne’s extensive research and compilation of records included those whose identities had been desecrated or were missing from the monument. After completing four large notebooks containing records for all Chelan and Douglas County veterans serving in World War I, Joanne summarized her efforts, “I thought they shouldn’t be forgotten.”

In determining the award recipient, President Majewski said, “There were some great nominations for the President’s Award and all are certainly deserving, but Joanne stood out as demonstrating a lifetime of contribution to the community.” We honor her accomplishments.

Support Kim Wyman with Silly Socks!

Clark County Genealogical Society’s Brian Runyan shows his support by wearing his wacky socks.

Washington’s Secretary of State Kim Wyman has been diagnosed with colon cancer and could use our support.

Since her diagnosis, many have asked her how they could bring her cheer and show support. In her April 2017 newsletter “Wyman’s Wire,” Kim encouraged us to take pictures of our silly, wacky socks and post them to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #wymanrocksthesocks. Or you can email your photo to  In addition, WSGS will have a membership table at some of the larger workshops and conferences around the state where you can sign a paper sock with your best wishes. We’ll make sure she gets the messages.

Kim is a good friend to our genealogical community. As Secretary of State, she oversees elections, corporation and charity filings, the Washington State Library, Washington Talking Book & Braille Library, State Archives and Digital Archives.

Show Kim that our genealogical family supports her!  #wymanrocksthesocks