Western Blue Genes clan to gather at Donner Pass

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The Blue clan doesn’t mess around when it comes to reunions.

Most of the Blue families in North America belong to either the Dutch Blue family or the Scottish Blue family, according to an online post.

Amos Blue is from the Dutch family that came to New Amsterdam in 1651 and received a land grant on Manhattan Island.

The Western Blue Genes are so organized they have a registration form and make suggestions about what to bring and wear, where to eat, shop and stay, what to do, how to get there, a schedule of events and more.

Blue clan member Jim Irwin of Walla Walla plans to go and received a pile of information from new chairwoman/planning coordinator Lynda “Lindy” Toth of Los Angeles for an old-fashioned National Blue Family Association get-down get-together in Truckee, Calif., near Donner Pass.

In fact Jim handed over the reins after coordinating it himself a number of times, often in Walla Walla.

“I pay special homage to Jim ... who led the Western Blue Genes in such a marvelous manner for so many years. Jim has asked to take a less active role and we certainly understand. He brought together Blue families in the Pacific Northwest for six wonderful reunions,” Lindy wrote in a greeting to family.

“Jim is ‘True Blue’ and we hope he will be able to come to Truckee and share in the family fun. It was his hard work, consistency, dedication and plain ol’ elbow grease that made the Western Blue Genes the special family reunion it is today,” Lindy noted.

The seventh Western Blue Genes Reunion this spring is billed as a fun family blowout. Donner Pass was selected because some of the Blues married Donners in the 1800s in Springfield, Ill. They went west seeking a milder climate and greener pastures in California.

However, “Leaders of the wagon train made a bad decision to cut off 300 miles on the Oregon Trail and took a new, little-known route. That step turned out to be a historic disaster of epic proportions. The party arrived at the pass in the Sierras in late October and deep snow drifts forced them to set up camp for the winter.”

“Thirty-seven people out the original party of 85 who reached the pass died of hunger, cold, accidents or disease. Of the 10 Blue descendants on the wagon train, one adult and nine children, only five survived the desperate winter of 1846-1847,” Lindy noted.

She is the granddaughter of silent movie actor Monte Blue, Jim said.

Their story is real drama, laced with courage, the will to survive and many harrowing events that few westward bound pioneers ever faced in the nation’s history.

“That’s why these Blues are special. And we will pay tribute to them this June 15th and hope you will join us. Come honor their memory and walk the trails near which they labored to survive amid 12 foot snow levels for five, long and cold months,” she said in the family invitation.

On the program is a dynamic 45-minute PowerPoint image- and map-laden presentation about the Blues and Donners during their long struggle, as told by Ken Blue. The family specialist on Donner Pass, Ken wrote an article for the Autumn 2011 Chalice about events there.

The family will visit Alder Creek, the Donner/Blue campground and walk the same trails that Blues and Donners struggled through during the bitter winter.

Because the National Weather Service lists Truckee as “one of the coldest towns in the United States during summer,” attendees are encouraged to pack accordingly with sun screen, covered walking shoes for trails, sweaters and jackets at night, maybe day too, and warm hats.

Lastly, Lindy said, “this is a first for me … this chairing of a family reunion with the magnitude of the Western Blue Genes.

“It’s a little daunting to walk in the shoes of Jim Erwin. But Bill Blue and Ken Blue have been riding shotgun at my side.

“I am deeply grateful and thankful for their guidance and help. I’m looking forward to meeting all of you in June as family.

“So, saddle up folks! Grab your best pair of Levis. Tote the Stetson. And wear your finest Western belt buckle. We’re going to have some good ol’ Western fun, fun, fun.”


Volunteers are needed to give more local girls the opportunity to participate in Girl Scouts.

There are currently 50 active scouts in the area and 23 adult volunteers, but another 80 girls are waiting to join a troop, according to a release.

Girl Scouts has a long history in the Walla Walla Valley. To keep it going, Girl Scouts Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho is seeking more than 20 adult volunteers to work with Girl Scouts for troops forming this summer and fall.

Girls in kindergarten through 12th grade can join Girl Scouts in a traditional troop at any point during the year as long as there are five girls and two leaders per troop.

A volunteer information social will be from 5:15 -6:15 p.m. April 30 in the second-floor meeting room at the downtown Walla Walla AmericanWest Bank branch, 30 W. Main St. Refreshments will be provided. An RSVP is not necessary.

The meeting is for adults 18 years or older who are interested in learning more about volunteering with Girl Scouts and working with girls or troop activities in the Walla Walla Valley. Local volunteers and GSEWNI staff will be present to discuss volunteer opportunities, how to work as a team or “adopt a troop” as a company or organization and the tremendous gratification that comes with volunteering with Girl Scouts.

Girls are usually grouped by age or grade, but some troops have a wider range of ages because of a shortage of leaders. “We have 16 girls in our troop ranging from 6-year-old Daisies to 10-year-old Juniors, although most of the girls are second- and third-grade Girl Scout Brownies,” said Troop 3717 Co-Leader Tiffany Jenes in the release.

“We have so much fun with our activities and the girls really appreciate all the special things they plan to earn their badges, patches and progress through the three Girl Scout Leadership Journeys.”

On every Leadership Journey, everything girls do − whether performing science experiments, creating art projects, cooking simple meals, or learning to protect the planet’s water supply − is aimed at giving them the benefits of the Girl Scout “Keys to Leadership”: Discover, Connect, Take Action.

“We hope that parents, local college students, working professionals, servant leaders and retired men and women will join us to learn more about Girl Scouting in the Walla Walla Valley,” said Jennifer Monroe, program and outreach coordinator. “We have been providing outreach programs to girls in kindergarten through fifth grade this past year and Hands on Science for 80 girls at Blue Ridge Elementary School, participated in the Peach Basket Classic the past three years and many other community service and outreach efforts in the Valley.”

Questions may be directed to Jennifer at jmonroe@gsewni.org or 800-827-9478, ext. 415.

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

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