Family album comes alive

Unexpected connection in Port Townsend

Port Townsend house

Kathy Solheim spent the first two years of her life in Port Townsend, Wash. The home now belongs to Marlene and Pat Okeefe. Recently, Kathy was their guest there through a mutual connection in the Daughters of Norway.

Kathy Solheim
Vancouver, Wash.

Kathy Solheim

The Solheim family album contains old letters addressed to their old home in Port Townsend, Wash., where Kathy visited.

Kathy Solheim, a genealogist and member of the Agnes Mathilde Wergeland Daughters of Norway Lodge #52 in Junction City, Ore., currently donates her services as a genealogical class presenter for the entire Daughters of Norway organization.

Recently, she was invited by Linda Morris, cultural director of the Thea Foss Lodge #45 in Port Townsend, Wash., to make a presentation  to the members there.

Kathy was born in Port Townsend in the late ’60s, and, as such,  she was thrilled with the opportunity to revisit her past home.

Her parents, Peter and Joan, were married back East and were transferred soon after to Port Townsend by her father’s employer. They eventually purchased a new home, and Kathy was born not long after.

Kathy Solheim

A family photo shows Kathy Solheim as a toddler on her father’s lap at the old family home in Port Townsend, Wash.

When Kathy reached the age of 2, her father’s employer transferred the family to Vancouver, Wash.

Kathy indicated to Linda that she was, in fact, born in Port Townsend and that her parents were the first owners of a home there. Then when Kathy provided her the address, Linda was surprised to see that it was the address of her friend, Marlene Okeefe, also a member of Thea Foss Lodge.

Marlene agreed to host Kathy for one night in the home Kathy had spent the first two years of her life.

This was a trip of a lifetime for Kathy. She brought along a photo album containing photos of her and her parents inside and outside the Port Townsend home, and a binder containing correspondence between her parents and her father’s parents with the addressed envelopes.

Kathy Solheim

Kathy Solheim (left) enjoyed spending time with the Okeefes, Pat (center) and Marlene (right) at their home in Port Townsend, Wash., where she lived with her family until she was 2 years old.

This unexpected connection in which a family album came back to life was a dream come true as well as a happy coincidence for Kathy and everyone involved.

This wonderful meeting and new friendship is also testimony to power for the Daughters of Norway network.

To learn more about the Daughters of Norway, including membership benefits, visit: daughtersofnorway.org.

Photos courtesy of Kathy Solheim

 

Read about Thea Foss, the namesake of the Port Townsend Daughters of Norway Lodge in “A woman of substance” by lodge sister Sharon Jordan in the Feb. 1, 2021 issue of The Norwegian American.

 

This article originally appeared in the June 2024 issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.