Pioneers ready to get festive

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As winter rolls in, the rushing waters of irrigation and Washington’s oldest festival aren’t too far away.


Sequim’s 119th Irrigation Festival begins May 2-11, 2014, with one of its traditions honoring Sequim’s long-time and cherished residents ready to go.


The Sequim Pioneer Association’s board recently announced the 2014 Irrigation Festival Grand Pioneers — Jack Stevens and Dorothy Daniels Ludke — and Honorary Pioneers — Glenn Greathouse and Mabel Heine Sorensen.


Bud Knapp, president of the association, said the four will be honored at the annual Pioneer Dinner, ride in the the Grand Parade and will attend several other festival events including the Sequim High School’s Operetta and Festival Kick-off dinner. Aside from Stevens, this will be three of the participants’ first time riding in a parade.


To be honored as a pioneer, you must be born and raised in Sequim to become a grand pioneer, or you must have lived in Sequim for at least 40 years to be an honorary pioneer.


The pioneer honors began at the association’s first luncheon, then called the Old Timer’s Club, in 1949.

The festival’s 2014 Pioneers include:


• Jack Stevens, grand pioneer
Stevens, 80, is a retired scientist and professor from UCLA School of Medicine. He is married to Nancy with whom he has two children and five grandchildren.  
He was born and raised in Sequim until he went off to college but returned 17 years ago.
“It’s nice to get away from the huge city (Los Angeles) and come back to a simpler living,” he said.
Stevens said he still thinks of the Irrigation Festival as a “cool thing.”

“I remember being in the Kids Parade leading a rooster with a leash. I won 25 cents,” he said.


• Dorothy Daniels Ludke, grand pioneer
Ludke, 83, is a retired cafeteria cook from Helen Haller Elementary.
She loved the children but particularly loves her own three along with her 10 grandchildren and four great-grandsons. She was married to her husband Gayhard Ludke until his death in 1985.
Her family has rich roots in Sequim, she said, including her great-grandfather John Bell who donated the property that helped start the City of Sequim.
She loves the Irrigation Festival and thinks of it’s a wonderful experience for everyone. Her Aunt Lilly was even a grand pioneer.
“I even watch for the water every year to come back down (the irrigation ditches),” she said.

When asked why she’s stayed in Sequim her whole life, Ludke said, “it is my home. Sequim has so many of my childhood friends. It’s a wonderful place to live.”


• Mabel Sorensen, honorary pioneer
Sorensen, 84, said she really hasn’t stopped working in her life. Her current project is working on her mother’s (Mabel Heine) home off Vautier Road.
She’s married to Donald Sorensen and they have four children, five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
She moved to Sequim around age 5 but moved around a lot because her father Charles Heine was a logger.
“He was the real pioneer,” she said. “He logged in Blyn and all over. I went to school a lot of places. We went where he went.”
Sorensen fondly remembers the Maypole dances of the Irrigation Festival.
“They were so fun,” she said. “It was pretty and I remember we got out of school to practice.”

Every year, her family makes a tradition out of the festival parking at Creamery Square to sit in chairs in the back of trucks, eat snacks and watch the parade.


• Glenn Greathouse, honorary pioneer
Greathouse, 82, moved to Sequim in 1955.
“I came to Sequim because I like to fish and hunt but I got too busy to fish and hunt,” he said. “But I stayed. It’s a great place to raise a family.”
Greathouse and his wife Jacquelyn, who died in 2010, have three children, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
He grew up in Arlington and went to Western Washington University before teaching for two weeks at Bellingham High School. He then taught for 30 years in Sequim Middle and High Schools as a shop teacher and football coach along with a few other subjects.
“In those days, we taught whatever they needed,” he said.
One claim to fame he remembers was coaching the junior high school football teams that went 10 years without a loss.
As for his honor as a pioneer, Greathouse thinks it’s great. “I appreciate people nominating me,” he said. “I’ve tried to be a good community member.”

For more on the Sequim Irrigation Festival and its upcoming events, visit
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