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70 descendants celebrate Laura Hagen Westeren's 100th birthday April 30
POULSBO — There will be no shortage of stories to tell Saturday at the celebration of Laura Hagen Westeren’s 100th birthday.
She was born May 4, 1911 in Poulsbo, as Norwegian as the city of her birth. Her parents, Peter and Karen Hagen, had immigrated from Norway in 1902 and Peter became a boat builder and fisherman here.
William Howard Taft was serving as our nation’s 27th president, Marion E. Hay was serving as Washington’s seventh governor. Peter Iverson was mayor of Poulsbo, as well as editor of the Kitsap County Herald.
Big news of the day: Bremerton state Sen. J.W. Bryan, an attorney, was defending himself against charges he committed perjury when he requested a change of venue for his client, a murder suspect (Bryan was acquitted). And the county fair executive committee was meeting to decide the dates and location of the 1911 county fair.
At local dances, couples danced to the latest hits, “It’s Always June When You’re in Love,” “Under the Yum Yum Tree,” “Oh, That Moonlight Glide,” and “Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey.”
Passenger boats traveled regularly between Seattle and Agate Point, Keyport, Lemolo, Pearson, Port Madison, Poulsbo, Scandia, Scheurman’s, Seabold and Suquamish.
Gas was 18 cents a gallon at Paulson, Hostmark & Borgen. A gent could buy a tailor-made suit from Emil Brunsch of Port Gamble and Port Ludlow for $20 and up.
Boyd’s Pharmacy was not only the place to get Peters’ Kuriko spring tonic and blood purifier, but also “the best place to get a dish of good ice cream or ice cream soda and ice cold soft drinks.”
Laura grew up in Seabeck in a home her father built. As a teen, she worked as a housekeeper and cook in Seattle. As a young married woman, she and her logger husband, Reidar Westeren, and their growing family followed logging work throughout the Northwest. She hauled water by pail to the house for cooking and cleaning.
They later lived in Darrington, and there they made history. On Sept. 25, 1945, Darrington became a city, Reidar Westeren was elected the first mayor and Laura became the city’s first First Lady. Laura was active in her role, baking pies for local Thanksgiving Day celebrations and building award-winning floats for the Darrington Logging Festival.
After the children were grown, Reidar and Laura Westeren moved to Seattle; he worked at a pallet plant, she fileted fish on the Seattle waterfront. They retired to Seabeck in 1973 and were among the first residents of Crista Shores Retirement Community in Silverdale in 1994. Reidar died there in 2002.
Today, Laura Westeren has 70 descendants — six children, 17 grandchildren, 38 great-grandchildren and nine great-great-grandchildren. And they’ll be there Saturday to celebrate a life that the family describes as “some ride.” The party is 1:30-4:30 p.m. at Crista Shores, 1600 NW Crista Shores Lane, Silverdale.
“It’s going to be kind of a family reunion,” son Ray Westeren said. “We’re kind of anxious.”
The celebration will include displays, a program, and the reading of congratulatory letters from Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson, Gov. Chris Gregoire, and possibly President Obama. (Note to NBC’s Willard Scott: A lot of folks in the Poulsbo area will be watching The Today Show to see if you’ll give Darrington’s former first lady her due.)