Meet the Board: Frank McLean

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.

Frank McLean

In today’s “Meet the Board” series, we’re introducing you to Frank McLean. Frank lives in Yakima and is WSGS’s chair of the Pioneer and First Citizen Program and the Conference Liaison. He has been a member of the WSGS since 1986, previously serving as President and Vice President. He was named as a WSGS Outstanding Volunteer in 2003, 2005 and 2006. He’s been a proud member (and past President) of the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society since 1986.

Frank’s high school picture

Frank Leroy McLean was born in Chewelah (Stevens County), Washington in 1937 to Jonathan Cornelius and Margaret Ella (Starz) McLean, the third of six children. After high school, Frank served proudly in the Army for 20-plus years, then worked for 19 years at the U.S. Department of Defense, with a short break in between working in Spokane. In 1958, Frank married Delma Dee Roloff. They have three surviving children and seven grandchildren.

Frank has a special interest and knack in technology and computers. In fact, he maintains a database for the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia Society that holds about 560,000 names. He also manages the WSGS Pioneer and First Citizen certificate database — almost 30,000 strong. For an index of the names, click here.

Frank, Delma and their children

John Robertson McLean (1847 – 1919)

Speaking of Germans from Russia…that’s how Frank got his interest in genealogy. No, he doesn’t have German ancestors from Russia, but Delma does. She joined the Central Washington chapter of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia Society in 1985 and Frank tagged along as “driver, cemetery walker and microfilm cranker.” From there, his interest grew. His ancestors hail from Germany, Nova Scotia,  Maine and Minnesota. Frank’s grandfather, John Robertson McLean (pictured at left) was born in Nova Scotia, but moved to St. James, Minnesota in 1870. While there, he started a church in a boxcar on a siding. Frank and his family attended the 125th anniversary of the church, where they were given a copy of the picture that hangs in the church. There is also a miniature replica of the boxcar on the lawn in front of the church.

Frank likes the research part of the genealogical search, but he’s not as thrilled with the documentation part. He also prefers his hard-copy paper charts and lists over paperless research.

A few more interesting tidbits about Frank:
• Favorite genealogy website: Family Search
• Favorite color: Blue
• Favorite dessert: Lemon Cream Pie

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

Local Society Management Classes Offered – Free!

WSGS President Ginny Majewski (center) with Board Members Nancy Cordell and Patty Olsen at “Nuts and Bolts of Society Management” class

Ginny Majewski, WSGS President, recently presented her “Nuts and Bolts of Society Management” class to a group of local genealogists hosted by the Lewis County Genealogical Society. By all accounts, the class was well-received and packed with valuable information, as well providing answers to a lot of society management questions — and some questions that attendees didn’t even know to ask.

Ginny’s “Nuts and Bolts” class is one of two society management classes being offered by WSGS on Wednesday, August 16, 2017, at the Northwest Genealogy Conference in Arlington, WA. The other class, taught by WSGS VP Donna Potter Phillips, is “How to Attract and Keep Members…Awake.” More information about the FREE society management classes is available in this Blog post.

For those local societies not able to take advantage of the management classes at the Northwest Genealogy Conference, arrangements are possible to present the classes at a more convenient time and location. Contact Ginny for more information.

Meet the Board: Donna Potter Phillips

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.

Donna Potter Phillips

In today’s “Meet the Board” series, we’re introducing you to Donna Potter Phillips. Donna lives in Spokane and is WSGS’s Vice President, Communication Chair, on the Blog Team, and Region 7 Representative for Ferry, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, and Stevens Counties. She also served as WSGS Vice President a number of years ago. She is a proud member of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society where she has been president (twice!), program chair, newsletter editor and held “jack of all” jobs. She is currently EWGS’s Federation of Genealogical Societies’ representative and Education chair.

Besides being a member of WSGS (since 1984) and EWGS, Donna is a member of the Mayflower Society, DAR, St. Clair County (Illinois) Genealogical Society, National Genealogical Society, Whitman County Genealogical Society and the Northeast Washington Genealogical Society. In addition, Donna was named a WSGS Outstanding Volunteer in 2008 and 2014. That’s a lot of genealogy, but that’s what Donna does!

Donna, age 5

Donna Ruth Potter was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan to Francis Harold and June Magdalen (Gurney) Potter. She was named for the heroine Lady Dona in Daphne Du Maurier’s 1941 novel “Frenchman’s Creek.”

Donna and her husband John are the proud parents of three, grandparents of eight and great-grandparents of 2-3/4 great-granddaughters.

Donna’s been interested in genealogy for more than 40 years – since she first learned she was a direct descendant of Englishman William Bradford of the Mayflower. She got “hooked” in 1971, joined EWGS in 1976 and has been researching, sharing, educating and promoting genealogy ever since. One of her favorite experiences was going with her son Benjamin and his son Austin to Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane to see a B-52 bomber jet on display. According to the serial number on the plane, it was one Donna’s father flew as an Aircraft Commander in the U.S. Air Force. Such serendipity! And speaking of “serendipity,” Donna publishes a weekly feature on the WSGS Blog called “Friday Serendipity” – assorted musings to entertain one and all. She also publishes “Monday Mystery,” “Tuesday Trivia,” and “Wednesday Nostalgia.”

On Donna’s ever-growing genealogy To Do List:
• Get all her genealogy research and information in order in case…well, you know.
• Upload her photos to
• Put her family tree on Ancestry, FamilySearch and MyHeritage.
• Make sure her list of contacts and passwords are updated.

When Donna’s not doing genealogy, she enjoys gardening (both inside and out), reading, rock collecting, taking educational classes and travel, including her ancestral homelands: Germany, England and Wales. She’s also a devoted dachshund lover!

A few more interesting tidbits about Donna:
• Favorite genealogy sites: Ancestry, FamilySearch and the Washington Digital Archives
• Favorite color: red
• Favorite dessert: Anything chocolate
• Word or phrase that describes her: Outspokenly energetic!

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

Blog is Success, Thanks to You!

WSGS Blog Team: Roxanne Lowe, Charles Hansen & Donna Potter Phillips

Since our first post in January 2015, the Blog Masters have posted 1,o90 genealogy-related articles, special features, events announcements and a plethora of other postings and musings. To date, almost 600 genealogy enthusiasts from around the region subscribe to the blog.

You can help us continue our success:

  • Send information about your local society, workshop, genealogical tip, or a research query to Charles, our Head Blog Master, will get it posted in a jiffy. 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 subscribers.
  • Encourage your friends and local society members to subscribe to the Blog for the most up-to-date information from around the state. It’s easy — just click here.

Thanks for making the Washington State Genealogical Society Blog a success!

The Legend of the Coyote Mascots — and a Happy Reunion!

WAGS Coyote (right) sitting with twin brother AppleSox Coyote on the steps of the WAGS Museum Annex Building. (Photo by Barbara Congdon)

Many years ago, two coyote brothers were romping the hillsides around Wenatchee. Playing hide and seek, the twins exuberantly worked their way into the mountain heights, losing track of time and place. The coyote youngsters were lost – neither twin could find tracks made by the other brother.

Before long, one of the youngsters was found by a coach hiking in the high hills, and taken to a beautiful ballpark in the city to spend his days. The other coyote was eventually rescued by a librarian and taken to Wenatchee just in time for presentations of the first Art on the Avenues. The Coyote was shaped into a new role, creating within him a voracious appetite for reading. He eagerly devoured a book of poetry by Blue Flute, and read whatever else he could get his hands on, most often a candy wrapper.

After many years of sitting on the steps of the Museum Annex Building, in 2016, the Wenatchee Area Genealogical Society officially adopted WAGS Coyote as its mascot. No more reading just a candy wrapper – this astute WAGS Coyote became a genealogist. He researched books, maps, and even census records, and inquired of all the people he greeted at the Genealogy Library if they might know about his brother. At last, WAGS Coyote located his brother at the AppleSox ballpark in Wenatchee!

The ballgame on Sunday, July 23rd is celebrating their reunion at Paul Thomas Field in Wenatchee! You are invited to join in this celebration as the Coyote mascots make history! For more information, visit the WAGS website. Cheers to AppleSox Coyote and WAGS Coyote!!!

Story by Lynda Pheasant, Past President, Wenatchee Area Genealogical Society

Bettye Hull Shares Photos for Blog Banner Challenge

Many thanks are extended to Bettye Hull of Cheney, Washington, for sharing some of her picturesque photos of Washington for our Blog Banner Challenge. Bettye sent us a collection of photos from:

  • Hoh Rain Forest
  • Near Third Beach on the Washington Peninsula
  • Snohomish Falls
  • Spokane Falls
  • Skagit Valley

The blog masters are always looking for scenic photos of our beautiful state for the rotating photos on the blog banner. For more details about the challenges, click here.

Northwest Genealogy Conference Next Month

Registration is still open for one of the region’s premier genealogical events: the Northwest Genealogy Conference.

Sponsored by the hard-working Stillaquamish Valley Genealogical Society, the four-day conference will be in Arlington, WA from Wednesday, August 16 through Saturday, August 19th.

The first day, Wednesday, is a free day geared toward beginning genealogists (although we all have so much we can learn or relearn!). Wednesday will also feature two management classes specifically for local societies:

How to Attract & Keep Members…Awake with Donna Potter Phillips, WSGS Vice President

The Nuts and Bolts of Society Management with Virginia Forney Majewski, WSGS President

Wednesday’s classes are all free, but registration is required.

The remainder of the conference (Thursday through Saturday), will feature over a dozen speakers, including keynoters Diahan Southard (Thursday), Daniel Earl (Friday) and Kenyatta Berry (Saturday). There’ll also be vendors and lots of opportunities to network with fellow genealogists.

Don’t miss this conference! Visit the website for more information or to register.

Looking for Ideas to Energize Your Local Society?

The Washington State Genealogical Society is offering two free society management classes on Wednesday, August 16, 2017, at the Northwest Genealogy Conference in Arlington, WA. The classes will be held on “Free Day Wednesday,” along with a Genealogy 101 class with professional genealogy Peggy Lauritzen from Ohio. WSGS’s society management classes are:

How to Attract & Keep Members…Awake
Presenter: Donna Potter Phillips, WSGS Vice President

Donna will share some new, some old and some WOW ideas for your society to use to increase and retain your membership. She will also present some program-giving tips for keeping members “awake” and eager to attend your society’s programs. You’ll leave this class with ideas and energy galore!

The Nuts and Bolts of Society Management
Presenter: Virginia Forney Majewski, WSGS President

This presentation is geared toward officers, board members or those considering running for office. Attendees will learn about different types of societies and the legal requirements of maintaining each, insurance needs and about developing policies or rules to protect the society when problems or problem makers arise. You’ll leave this class knowing how to help your Board be functional, responsible and active.

Did you see that these classes are FREE? Ginny and Donna are long-time leaders in their local societies and experienced instructors. Attending “Free Day Wednesday” is a great way to start the Northwest Genealogy Conference. For more information about this premier conference, including registration information, click HERE.

Meet the Board: Opal Myhres

Opal Myhres

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.

In today’s “Meet the Board” series, we’re introducing you to Opal Myhres. Opal lives in Yakima and is WSGS’s Region 5 Representative for Kittitas, Klickitat and Yakima Counties. She is a proud member of the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society where she has been president, secretary and treasurer. She is currently the head librarian of YVGS’s amazing research library located at 1901 S. 12th Street in Union Gap. Between the 18,000+ bound volumes on the shelves and the massive microfilm/microfiche collection, the library hosts an equivalent collection of 35,000 volumes of genealogical research material covering all 50 states and a large number of foreign countries. Quite a job to be the head librarian!

Mr. and Mrs. Louis Myhres

Opal Irene Walsh was born in October 8, 1927 in northern Minnesota. Her parents Charles and Ethel (Olson) Walsh named their first daughter after October’s birthstone – the opal. She was the oldest girl in a family of five boys and three girls. After graduating high school in 1945, Opal married her sweetheart Louis Myhres in 1946 as soon as he got home from the Navy after the war. Not long after, the couple moved to Washington where Louis’s family lived. Opal was a stay-at-home Mom to their two children until Louis was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. When Louis went back to school, Opal went to work for Sears until 1974 when he had to retire. But they soon bought a motorhome, and with Opal as the driver, they hit the road. Louis passed away in 1984 while they were snow-birding in Arizona.

In addition to her two children, Opal is the proud grandmother of three granddaughters – and 12 great-grandchildren, ages 23 to 3.

Opal’s interest in genealogy started early. Her father had always told the family that there was a family Bible that traced his mother’s family back to early England. It was passed down from the youngest son to the youngest son. When Opal and Louis lived in Olympia, she located the son who should have had the Bible who was living in the Seattle area. He told Opal the book was too fragile to send, but there was a book with the same info in the Seattle Library. What an amazing find! Opal copied it, and later found one to purchase. The book outlined the family lineage from England to Massachusetts from 1635, through the generations of Opal’s paternal line — the George Weekes family. Opal’s father also knew that his family came from Washington County, NY and his father was the youngest of 14, born in 1848. Opal went to the Olympia library and met Alma Greenwood, former WSGS president, who showed her how to order a census and how to find him. From those two experiences, Opal was able to fill in details about many members of her family – and become “hooked” on genealogy.

Besides being a member of the Washington State Genealogical Society since 2002 (and a WSGS Outstanding Volunteer in 2005), Opal belongs to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) where she is the state Archivist; the Daughters of the American Colonists, Descendants of Washington’s Army at Valley Forge, and Sons of Norway. She is also a former member of the Colonial Dames.

When she’s not researching her family roots, Opal enjoys quilting, embroidery and reading.

A few more interesting tidbits about Opal:

Favorite color – blue
Favorite dessert – anything chocolate
Favorite genealogy websites – Ancestry and Fold3

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