Walla Walla woman feted at 106th birthday bash

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With a slew of candles ablaze and music of the century provided by pianist Roger Thiesen, Park Plaza staffers, residents, family and friends honored Dorothy Anne Hill on her 106th birthday recently.

The candles — one for each year — made quite the conflagration, her niece, Carolyn Olson, said. Eric Naftzger, Park Plaza’s executive chef, came in on his day off to make her "a pretty fancy, round, huge, tall chocolate cake," Carolyn said. To be precise, Dorothy and guests celebrated with a three-layer chocolate fudge cake with raspberry filling, cream cheese chocolate frosting and dark chocolate shavings.

Dorothy’s two remaining siblings, Winifred Thomsen, also of Park Plaza, and Fred Hill and wife Beth of Culver, Ore., were present along with nieces and spouses, Anne and Fred Haberstich of Boardman, Harry, Carolyn and Karen Olson of Walla Walla, and friends Jack and Eileen Sobotta of Hermiston. Walla Walla native Dorothy was born Aug. 17, 1903, on Cherry Street and baptized at St. Patrick Catholic Church in January 1904.

Her parents, Walter and Margaret Brogan Hill moved to the area to be near Margaret’s sister and husband Anna Brogan Ryan and Walter Ryan. Dorothy’s father owned a candy store in Walla Walla.

The Ryans were the great-aunt and -uncle of Ryan Crocker, a Whitman College graduate and former ambassador to Iraq.

Most of Dorothy’s childhood was spent in The Dalles and Antelope, Ore., and her adult years were spent in Seattle where she was employed as a telephone operator.

She remembers at age 11, in 1914, hearing many bells peal one day in The Dalles. Her mother explained it was for the opening of the Panama Canal.

In 1926, she was among those on the street in Portland who watched Marie, Queen of Romania, pass through en route to the dedication of the Maryhill Museum.

The queen brought 15 crates filled with art and artifacts, including her coronation gown, crown, silverware, gilt furniture, jewelry and other memorabilia, as gifts to the museum.

Dorothy remains active with walks around Park Plaza, travel to family events, keeping up with sports and world events, politics, church, family and friends.

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Visitors to Walla Walla are a big part of Fort Walla Walla Museum’s focus. Tourism dollars roll over approximately eight times before disappearing, helping many aspects of the region’s economy, said Paul Franzmann, communications manager.

On average, according to Tourism Walla Walla’s most recent survey, each tourist spends in excess of $200 in the area, which translates into lots of dollars in circulation. "We like to do our part to promote community visitation," Paul said. "We get frequent requests to contribute to a variety of causes and we’re happy to participate when we can." One of those requests was from Gig Harbor’s Hosanna Christian School. Museum staff put together a package and sent it off for the school’s "Walla Walla Getaway" fundraising auction. On Aug. 18, 16 folks representing five families arrived at the Museum for their visit. In addition, the group lodged at Waitsburg’s Lewis Peak Estates guest house, dined at Crossroads Steakhouse & Lounge, visited Bergevin Lane Vineyards and L’Ecole No. 41 wineries and took in the Walla Walla Children’s Museum. "They’re just a great bunch of people, here in town to have a great time. They especially liked the warm weather we provided them," Paul said.

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Of 11 Walla Walla Public Schools applicants for the Teaching & Learning in the 21st Century grant, six have been awarded the competitive grant.

The field of winning applicants represent 70 districts and 152 schools across all nine Educational Service Districts, according to Walla Walla Public Schools Week in Review online.

It is the first cadre of TL21 trainees. The new grant program is made possible in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Grant recipients include Kristen Harvey, Garrison Middle School; Jean Tobin and Paula Michelle Carpenter, both at Green Park Elementary; Erica Wauchek, Lincoln Alternative High School; Kami Kuhlmann, Prospect Point Elementary; and Anne Swant, Walla Walla High School. Each $7,600 award funds 62 hours of professional development during the 2009-2010 school year, travel, substitute teachers and hardware and software for participating classrooms.

Grant recipients will receive $3,500 in the 2010-2011 school year for more training and classroom equipment.

The grant focuses on instructional tools that promote teacher facilitation of large group learning activities using electronic boards with projectors, document cameras, classroom performance systems, electronic slates, and more; student use of technology to increase productivity and enhance learning; and integration with desktops, laptops, PDAs and sound field systems that improve students’ ability to hear instruction; and a 21st century learning environment to support:

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The Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days grand champion award recipient in the first Commercial Window Decorating Contest is Hidden Treasures.

Huge ribbons were presented on Aug. 24 to the winners by Rita Kaufmann, contest coordinator and Tina Hedley of Windermere Real Estate, one of the contest judges. "Choosing winners was far more difficult than the judges anticipated due to the high quality of entries. It was obvious how much work was involved" Rita said. "We were really excited by the level of participation for the first year of the contest and anticipate that next year will be even better."

Other winners are Inland Octopus, Best for Fair Theme "Harvest Moon-Country Tunes;" Tallman’s, Best for Western Spirit; Martin’s Jewelers, Best for Fair memories; Walla Walla Sew & Vac & Spas, Best for Farming & Ranching; Sterling Savings Bank, Best for Cowboy-Up; Pete’s Sports Shop, Best of Class Painted Window; Romanza, Best of Class Display Window.

Cory Hewitt, Walla Walla Fairgrounds manager, commended the merchants who participated in the contest and encouraged everyone to walk downtown and see the creative displays.

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Walla Wallan Charlotte Gennick Mercado enjoyed catching up with a fellow Mio (Mich.) AuSable High School classmate recently.

She estimates she and Ursula Holsbeke, her best friend from high school, last got together 18-20 years ago.

Ursula pedaled into town from Curran, Oscoda County, Mich., recently, en route to San Francisco.

"It was exciting to see such a close friend again," Charlotte said.

Ursula is living her dream to see California, Charlotte said. It took Ursula 37 days and 2,300 miles to reach the Walla Walla Valley.

Ursula took to her two-wheeler a year ago in order to save money, since gas prices had shot through the roof. She made 60-mile round trips into the town of Mio, Mich., from her home outside Curran on her bike.

Because she’d accomplished that distance, she started thinking bigger. She went through three inexpensive bicycles treking back and forth before her boyfriend invested in a long-distance bicycle for her that’s worthy of such an ambitious long haul.

Ursula, 37, told the Oskoda County Herald that she intends to ride about 50 miles every day and make 58 scheduled stops, spending about $20 per day for food, shelter and bike repairs. Part of the journey is to get closer to God. "I can see the signs better now. They’re not hidden in everyday, crazy life. You don’t notice all the lucky breaks."

She also told the Herald that it’s key for people to realize they’re the only ones who can effect positive change in their own lives. "Should of, would of, could of never got anyone anywhere," she said in the Aug. 5 article. "Get out there and do something."

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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