Meet the Board: Kathy Sizer

Do you know who’s running the show at the Washington State Genealogical Society? Who are these people? In the coming months, we’ll introduce them to you, so you can say “hi” the next time you see them. (Note: a variation of Kathy’s story was published in October 2017.)

Kathy and her 2nd cousins, once removed in England.

In today’s “Meet the Board” series, we’re introducing you to Kathy Sizer. Kathy lives in Granger (Yakima County) and is WSGS’s President. She has been a member of the WSGS since 2011. She is also a member of the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society where she has been president, vice president, recording secretary, hospitality chair and current treasurer.

Kathleen Louise was born in Oakland, California in 1951 to August Edward and Vivian Jane (Washburn) Weddle. Her mother liked the name Kathleen (as did approximately one million other mothers at the time), but when she told her husband, he said he did too as his former fiance’s name was Kathleen. Horrified, Kathy’s mother said they needed to pick another name, to which her husband replied, “I didn’t marry her. I married YOU, didn’t I?” 

Kathy’s interest in genealogy began when her grandmother Edith Clarke Washburn and her sister Avice Ramos Clarke were discussing family history when Kathy was in the 4th grade. That discussion sparked Kathy’s interest. Later, after college, Kathy found a handwritten family history her grandmother had done and that really secured her lifelong passion.

Kathy with her cousin Diana Walcom at their great grandfather John Clarkes’ home in Gargrave England.
Kathy and cousin Diana Walcom in England during Diana’s first trip to see the family home.

Even though her DNA ancestry says she’s only 36 percent English, Kathy’s ancestors come from England, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Scotland, Arabic and Ireland. She has been lucky enough to travel to England and Scotland to see where her grandmother’s family was from.  A genealogist’s work is never done!

Kathy has quite a few interesting characters in her ancestry. Her distant grandmother, Sarah Lord Wilson of Andover, Massachusetts, and daughter Sarah Wilson Preston (also Kathy’s grandmother) were imprisoned for witchcraft, but released when the community began to realize the awful practice of imprisoning (or worse) was wrong. Kathy also has a great grandmother, Marie R. Cornioley, who was governess to Louis Comfort Tiffany, the famous glass maker. And what about John Billington, her distant grandfather, who came over on the Mayflower and was the first man in the Plymouth Colony to hang for killing a man? True story.

When not searching for her ancestors, Kathy enjoys gardening, travel and reading. She  has four grown children and seven grandchildren. “Her two sons are adopted from India and have done their DNA and have English and Irish blood (Queen Victoria and her British Empire most likely came into play).”

A few more interesting tidbits about Kathy:

  • Favorite genealogy websites: Ancestry, Family Search, Nantucket Historical Association and
  • Favorite color: Green, of course, as Kathy’s ancestry takes her to England and her DNA shows she’s 17 percent Irish
  • Favorite dessert: Eclairs, pumpkin pie and homemade oatmeal raisin cookies
  • When asked for one word that described her, she replied, “bookish.”

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

Stories Behind the Stars

I would like to make you aware of a project that may be of great interest to your organization and many of your members.

I am the director of a non-profit initiative known as Stories Behind the Stars, under the auspices of The Greatest Generations Foundation.

The ambitious goal of this project is to collect short profiles of all of the 400,000+ US World War II fallen in one online database. There will be a smartphone app that will allow anyone visiting a war memorial or cemetery to scan the name of the fallen and get a link to automatically take them to his/her story. This will work at Arlington National Cemetery, Honolulu’s National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, even memorials in Washington state. It will make visits to the final resting places of our World War II fallen a much richer experience. Whereas now, a visitor just sees names and dates, when this project is finished, a visit to any WWII memorial or gravesite will come with that person’s story.

As a genealogy organization, you are aware that resources online now make genealogical research easier than ever. I learned this first hand over the past three years. I have had a lifelong interest in history, and particularly enjoyed reading memoirs. After the 2016 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, a lot of news coverage was given to the remaining World War II veterans. It bothered me that little attention was given to any of the 400,000+ fallen who did not come home. WWII memoirs all mentioned how much these fallen meant to a victory they did not enjoy. I decided to do something about this.

I began a daily personal passion project to start writing about these mostly forgotten heroes. Each day I wrote a profile of one of the fallen on the 100th anniversary of his/her birthday. I recorded these stories in a  blog at I shared it with various World War II groups on Facebook. Others started joining me to write these stories and there are now more than 1,200 of these short profiles, including more than a dozen from Washington (see that have been read more than one million times. The newspaper in the town where I grew up, the Pueblo Chieftain, did a story about my efforts that was picked up by many papers around the country (see The project was slated to end this September with the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. However, at the encouragement of others, I decided to expand this project so that the stories of all of the 400,000+ US World War II fallen can be told.

The 400,000+ number is very daunting, but it is much more manageable for western states. In the case of Washington, WWII losses were probably around 6,000. I already have access to a database that has 5,000+ Washington related names. I just need help finding people who want to write profiles of the Washington fallen. has generously agreed to provide free access to their research tools (,, and to anyone helping me with this project.

I created the website to promote and manage this project. Though it just barely started, I already have volunteers helping from a dozen states.

The reason I am contacting WSGS is that I am sure you know of many, many Washington residents who would be interested in helping with this project. I need volunteers to research and write the stories of these ~6,000 Washington World War II fallen. It takes less than 45 minutes to research and write the average story. I have created a YouTube page (see with short training videos showing how to do the research.

Can you share information about my project with your members? At this time of social distancing, I think this project would be a wonderful use of time for those with their skills.

Feel free to call or email me to move this discussion further.


Don Milne

Stories Behind the Stars Founder and Director

Washington State Genealogical Society News

Announcement from the Board of Directors

The Board of WSGS met in Yakima on May 10th & 11th to consider our future. Many changes have come about in the past few years to the science and practice of genealogy. We recognized that WSGS was no longer fulfilling some of our missions developed many years ago. Our current model of business was no longer working.

The Board was challenged with the decision of whether to close our doors or to reinvent WSGS to meet the challenges of staying relevant. The Board made a unanimous decision to take WSGS in a new direction. The renewed WSGS will be rolling out our vision later this year. Hint: preservation! So stay tuned!

Virginia Majewski, President

Annual Volunteer Awards Grants & Educational Assistance

It’s Time to Recognize our Wonderful Volunteers!

Nominations for the WSGS Awards program opened on Feb. 1, 2019.  Information on how to recommend a volunteer, team, communication or special genealogist are available on the WSGS website, .  Applications for awards are open until March 30th

Does Your Society need Financial Assistance? 

Applications for Grants and Educational Assistance are now open!  Details are available for both programs on the WSGS website, .  Applications are open until March 30th!

Looking for a Last Minute Christmas Gift?

Looking for that last minute Christmas gift for someone — or yourself? How about a WSGS membership? It’s only $12/year whether an individual or couple — only $1 a month! We need your membership support so we can continue sponsoring this WSGS Blog; promote local genealogical meetings, workshops and conferences; and — it’s the right thing to do to support statewide organizations like the Washington State Genealogical Society.

It’s easy to join (or renew). Just click here to join (new members) or here to renew (current members must log in). 

Updated Genealogy Society Page

Need help with research in WA State?  Check out our updated Genealogy Society Page.  All known genealogical societies or historical societies with genealogical collections are listed by region.  Information includes how to contact each society, meeting schedules, archive locations and hours and Special Collections.  Local Societies are one of your best resources!  If you know of a genealogical society or historical society with a genealogical collection that we missed, please contact us so we can include them.  Happy Hunting!

Washington State Genealogical Society at the NW Genealogy Conference

Come See WSGS at the NW Genealogy Conference

The Washington State Genealogical Society is delighted to partner with the Northwest Regional Genealogy Conference and have the opportunity to share thoughts on society management. Virginia Majewski, WSGS president, and Donna Potter Phillips, WSGS vice-president, will each offer a free session aligned with the theme of society management.  The sessions will be offered during lunch breaks on Thursday & Friday, so grab your lunch and come on in.

Donna’s presentation will discuss “How To Lasso A Good Speaker.” Every genealogy society struggles to find programs, presentations and good speakers. Donna will present some criteria on how to “lasso” or find a good speaker.

Ginny’s presentation will discuss “So You’ve Been Elected”; hints, helps and resources for society officers.  Officers, do you ever wonder what have I gotten myself into?  Ginny will present thoughts on what you need to know, what you ought to consider and resources to help.
Don’t forget to stop by the WSGS table at the NW Genealogy Conference and learn how you can win a free DNA kit!

Norma Yost Awarded 2017 Outstanding Volunteer Honor

Since 2003, the Washington State Genealogical Society has recognized over 500 outstanding volunteers and teams, nominated by their local society or genealogical organization for their service and dedication. These volunteers are the backbone of their local society, giving their time and expertise, to the organization and the field of genealogy. In the coming weeks, you will be introduced to each of the 2017 award recipients and learn why they received the 2017 WSGS Outstanding Volunteer and Team Award.

Norma Yost

Today we’re introducing Norma Yost of Colville, Washington, who was nominated by the Northeast Washington Genealogical Society (NeWGS). She was recognized for her dedication to the preservation of a local pioneer cemetery.

Since joining in 2014, Ms. Yost has been involved in the clean-up and maintenance of Evergreen Cemetery in Colville, a local pioneer cemetery established in 1868. She is a favorite speaker at NeWGS meetings, and has been a member of the board of directors serving as member-at-large and currently as librarian. As librarian, Ms. Yost has used her talents to design outstanding displays for National Family History Month. She is also a gifted seamstress and has personalized NeWGS vests by embroidering their names on them.

Ms. Yost is a respected and diligent member of the NeWGS. Her accomplishments and dedication illustrate that she richly deserved being a recipient of a 2017 WSGS Outstanding Volunteer Award.

For more information on the WSGS Outstanding Volunteer Award program, visit the Recognition page of the WSGS website or contact Roxanne Lowe, Interim Recognition Chair, at

Catherine and Gilbert Wooden Awarded 2017 Outstanding Volunteer Honors

Since 2003, the Washington State Genealogical Society has recognized over 500 outstanding volunteers and teams, nominated by their local society or genealogical organization for their service and dedication. These volunteers are the backbone of their local society, giving their time and expertise, to the organization and the field of genealogy. In the coming weeks, you will be introduced to each of the 2017 award recipients and learn why they received the 2017 WSGS Outstanding Volunteer and Team Award.

Catherine Wooden

Gilbert Wooden

Today we’re introducing Catherine and Gilbert Wooden of Renton, Washington, who were nominated by the South King County Genealogical Society (SKCGS). This dedicated duo was recognized for their loyal service to the operation of their local society.

Cathy and Gil provide the crucial behind- the-scenes support every society depends on for smooth operation. Cathy always serves at registration tables, providing name tags, handouts or other items as needed. Gil has operated the audio equipment for meetings, transporting everything back and forth from home to venue. They both have served on the board of directors and various committees.

Cathy and Gil are respected and diligent members of the SKCGS, and richly deserve the honor of being Washington State Genealogical Society Outstanding Volunteers.

For more information on the WSGS Outstanding Volunteer Award program, visit the Recognition page of the WSGS website or contact Roxanne Lowe, Interim Recognition Chair, at

Join us in Vancouver

Momentum is building for a fabulous and meaningful weekend full of genealogical as well as historical events! Register now for the Clark County Genealogical Society‘s Spring Seminar with David Allen Lambert from the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Registration info here.

And there’s more!

  • The Washington State Genealogical Society will be presenting their awards during the seminar’s lunch hour on Saturday.
  • An 1833-35 Hudson Bay Company (HBC) descendant is attending the HCB Gala Reception Friday evening and he has stories.
  • The Ft. Vancouver Tapestry will be showing at the CCGS Library Annex for 5 Full Days (24th-28th).
  • There’s a walking Cemetery Tour is scheduled for Sunday (meet up at Library).