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Families honor loved ones

HANSVILLE — In memory of two women from two very different generations, a group of residents created something that allows the rest of the community to enjoy the Hansville Greenway Trails as much as they did.

A new viewing platform at the south end of the trail system, overlooking the 40-acre wetlands of Lower Hawks Pond, was constructed and dedicated this summer in honor of late Hansville residents Lauren Keen and Weencie Fite.

Lauren, Linda and Chip Keen’s daughter, often spent time on the trails. She was a junior at University of Washington when she died in January 2001.

“It’s quite close to where we lived and Lauren really loved Hansville and really loved the environment,” Linda Keen said. “We felt so much support from the community. We wanted to give back to the community in her name.”

Fite, who died in October 2000, was a very active community member, remembered Hansville Greenway Trails volunteer Sid Knutson.

“She was a fabulous. She was great to know,” he said of the “Hansville Matriarch.”

The idea to construct and dedicate the platform to the ladies came at a time when the community was mourning the loss of both.

“It just felt right. Weencie and Lauren both loved Hansville,” explained Linda Keen. “They knew each other. I called Weencie’s oldest daughter, Mary Fite Black and we talked about it and thought it sounded like a really good thing to do.”

Both the Keen and Fite families provided funding for the project and Knutson organized the work parties and materials, while resident John Armstrong designed the structure. About 13-14 volunteers built the platform in a week in May, Knutson said.

Volunteers hauled lumber, building materials, a power generator for the tools and what Knutson estimated to be 5,000 pounds of concrete mix into the site.

“Those guys were just incredible,” Linda Keen said. “Such an amazing group of men who just volunteered so much of their time and energy and, really, they’re the spirit of what Hansville is.”

“It’s just a gift that that team did there,” Fite Black said. “It’s just a wonderful contribution to that community. It’s a destination of peace and beauty.”

The platform can be accessed from the Greenway trailhead at Buck Lake Park and is about one and one-half miles into the forest on the paths that lead to Lower Hawks Pond. From the platform, the view includes the still waters of the wetlands and its inhabitants as well as an osprey nest that is located within a group of dead tree trunks.

Knutson said he was concerned that the construction would disturb the wildlife, however, the platform — which replaced a previous structure at the site — took up very little space on the bank of the pond and the osprey didn’t seem to be bothered by the work.

In June, a private memorial was held with the families. Recently, a plaque was added to the platform with women’s names and the phrase “Celebrate The Day!”

“I just loved what it said,” Fite Black said. “I just thought it was a beautiful way to express the spirit of those two people.”

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