Mark Foutch, President

I’m truly honored to succeed Ralph Blankenship as president of the Olympia Historical Society.  Under Ralph’s leadership OHS has increased its visibility in the community, given community members new ways to learn about our programs and resources, and made significant progress in accessing and preserving local historical materials.

What’s so remarkable about all this is that it’s been accomplished with very little money and by a very few—but VERY dedicated—lovers of local history.

That’s why I was pleased to be asked to join the OHS Board in December, and more than willing to step up to a leadership position when the need arose.  I’m particularly grateful to Ralph for agreeing to stay on the Board and serve as our new Treasurer.

Our outgoing Vice President Russ Hupe’, Treasurer Lois Fenske, and Secretary Deborah Ross have devoted years of dedicated service to OHS.  Longtime member-volunteer Sue Goff continues as our one-person collections “staff.”  Together they have formed the bedrock foundation that has enabled OHS to function so productively.  They all deserve our sincere thanks.

With Board member Karen Bowen moving up to Vice President, and renowned local historian Shanna Stevenson bringing her very extensive knowledge, statewide experience and reputation to the Board as Program Chair, OHS is positioned to serve the community even better.  But difficult challenges do face us.

Most obviously, looming State budget cuts threaten to close the State Capitol Museum, with its stored materials, exhibits and programs that are vital for preserving and promoting Olympia’s history as the Capital City.  Also clearly at risk is general State support for historic preservation.  Meanwhile, Olympia still has no local history museum or other physical focal point that residents and visitors would recognize as “the” place to go to find Olympia’s fascinating story.  And there’s still no safe, secure, climate-controlled facility where families and businesses would KNOW that their irreplaceable collections of documents, images, sounds and artifacts could be deposited, protected, preserved and accessed in perpetuity by the public and scholars alike.

On the “plus” side, recent leaps in computer technology have made it possible for even such a small group as OHS to find, organize and distribute much more local history information and to communicate much more easily with the public about our goals, programs, events and opportunities.  We’re very fortunate to have younger “tech savvy” members like Secretary Mark Derricott and Webmaster Sean Krier to take advantage of these new capabilities.

To our current OHS members, THANK YOU for your past interest and support.  We need you even more in 2011.  You can do practical things to spread the word about this organization.  Let your friends and acquaintances know about or website and how little it costs to join.  Invite them to events and programs organized or just publicized by OHS.  Consider what you could contribute to our success with a small investment of your time and unique skills.  After a quarter century in this community I continue to be amazed at the range of knowledge and experience that exists out there, waiting to be motivated.

I think this is going to be a great year for your Olympia Historical Society!