After 5 decades, pioneer group is still going strong

After a century, the descendants of Sequim’s early settlers continue to honor their ancestors, pioneers in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.

Twice a year, at the annual Sequim Pioneer Association dinner in May and a picnic potluck in August, pioneer families gather. The first official recognition of the valley’s pioneers came in 1949 with the Old Timers

Club and out of it grew the Sequim Pioneer Association. In 1960, the group named its first grand pioneers to be honored at the Irrigation Festival.

To be a grand pioneer, the person must have lived in Sequim his/her entire life. In 1962, honorary pioneers were added; it’s restricted to people who have lived in Sequim 40 years or more.

About 200 people attend the dinner each year at the Sequim Prairie Grange, said Bud Knapp, president of the association. Knapp was born and raised in Sequim and returned to the area after his military service.

The dinner’s profits allow the association to give two $1,000 scholarships to Sequim High School graduates.

“The nicest part is the camaraderie with classmates,” Knapp said.

“We used to think this is for the old folks — now we are them,” he laughed.

Many of Sequim’s roads are named after pioneer families, such as Cays and Lotzgesell.

Bob Clark, one of the Sequim Pioneer Association’s stalwarts, said that when he calls the roster at the dinner, there are at least 100 different family names represented.

“We’ve got a real good board to work with,” Knapp said. “Our big goal is still honoring all the pioneers still here and we extend the offer to older people to be grand and honorary pioneers. The hardest part is getting people to say yes — They’re in their twilight years and don’t want the attention.”

Board members are Lorretta Bekkevar Grant, Cindy Tietzel, Dave Knapman, Teri Schnuriger Lilliquist, Debbie Keeting-Hansen, Jerry Brownfield, Terry Petersen and Sue Ault. They serve three-year terms.

In 1956, Knapp recalled, there were 315 people in Sequim and even though it’s grown to a city of 6,700, “the small town is still here,” Knapp said.

“Maybe we’re a two-horse town instead of one,” he said. “In 10 years, I see the Pioneer Association going strong because of pride in your roots. I don’t see it not continuing and I hope it’s going on the rest of the century.”

Join the pioneers

The Pioneer Association Dinner is Friday, May 9, with a social hour beginning at 4:30 p.m. and dinner at 5:30 p.m. at the Sequim Prairie Grange, 290 Macleay Road, Sequim. Tickets are available at BrokersGroup for $17.


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