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Honors, memories and lots of love for centenarian Laura Hagen Westeren | Multimedia
POULSBO — There was no shortage of stories, or honors, April 30 at the celebration of Laura Hagen Westeren’s 100th birthday.
Westeren, a Poulsbo native and logger’s wife who became Darrington’s first First Lady before returning to her beloved Seabeck home, was feted by more than 100 family members and friends at Crista Shores Retirement Community in Silverdale. She received congratulatory letters from Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson and Gov. Chris Gregoire, and her birthday was declared Laura Hagen Westeren Day at Crista Shores.
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. She 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. They later lived in Darrington. On Sept. 25, 1945, Darrington became a city, Reidar Westeren was elected the first mayor and Laura became the city’s first First Lady. She was active in her role, baking pies for local Thanksgiving Day celebrations and building award-winning floats for the Darrington Logging Festival.
After their 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 were there April 30 to celebrate a life that the family describes as “some ride.”
The celebration will included displays, a program, and the reading of congratulatory letters. Lydia Ophus of sang “Amazing Grace” and “Happy Birthday” in Norwegian.