Video: Rotarians watch as the totem pole they donated returns

July 28, 2010 at 6:54 pm | In Rotary Club of West Seattle, West Seattle news | 24 Comments

(Photo by Christopher Boffoli)
The Rotary Club of West Seattle had a delegation on hand this morning as a crew from Artech re-installed the now-restored, repainted totem pole stolen eight months ago from the park they donated to the city 34 years ago. Our as-it-happened coverage of this morning’s operation is here; Christopher Boffoli‘s video compilation shows the key scenes as the pole was returned to its place with the help of a crane:

The official rededication celebration is set for the evening of August 10. Among those on hand this morning: Duane Ruud, who, along with fellow longtime Rotarian Ken Wise, followed a track of clues that helped lead police to the discovery the pole had been taken to Oregon after the November 30th theft. Duane had hoped Ken would be well enough to be on hand to watch today’s reinstallation – while we all watched the operation this morning, he and others kept looking to see if someone might pull up, bringing him to the park – but ultimately he couldn’t (his son Tom is at left in our top photo). We asked Duane about Ken as well as about what it was like to see the pole put back in place today:

As for the future of the 34-year-old pole itself – read ahead for more on that and more photos from this morning’s operation:

(Photo by Christopher Boffoli)
At left in that photo is Artech’s Roger Waterhouse (a West Seattleite, by the way). He says that if the pole is left to the elements now, it will, within a few years, return to the faded grayish color that it held before it was stolen. At this point, the plan, he says, is for a coat of oil to be applied about once a year to prevent that.

(Photo by Christopher Boffoli)
The pole’s artist, Robin Young, was not involved in the restoration, we are told, but may be at the rededication next month. Meantime, the Rotary is talking about ways to improve the often-overlooked (except for the landmark totem pole) park that they donated to the city in 1976 – including the landscaping.

24 Comments

  1. Thanks for this WSB -
    You deliver
    the best local news
    on the planet!

    Comment by old timer — 7:08 pm July 28, 2010 #

  2. Thanks for being there and giving us all this information about a West Seattle icon.

    Comment by Cathy Rouyer — 7:59 pm July 28, 2010 #

  3. thanks for the video, too!

    Comment by fiz — 9:40 pm July 28, 2010 #

  4. KIller! So excited this is back but sorry to have missed the return. My son is gong to freak out when I take him over tomorrow as a surprise. This is just great. Thanks WSB. Thanks Rotary Club of West Seattle. :))

    Comment by ellenater — 10:41 pm July 28, 2010 #

  5. wow the Seattle Times is quoting the spokesman for the King County prosecutors office that Jenks stole the pole. First time I’ve seen this name except the twitter posting.
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2012475284_totem29m.html
    At least the guy has a web record now. I wonder if this was a planned disclosure after all of this.

    Comment by ScottA — 11:37 pm July 28, 2010 #

  6. That’s the name we had previously but since charges were never filed and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said there were no official documents saying he had confessed, we didn’t have 100% confirmation. (We also had attempted to contact that person earlier in the case for comment.) Interesting that the Times has chosen to go with the name just the same; I hadn’t read their story as they didn’t show up this morning till everything was ending. Thanks for pointing it out – TR

    Comment by WSB — 11:57 pm July 28, 2010 #

  7. The Seattle Times has published in today’s edition the name of the man who paid for the pole’s restoration.

    Comment by nulu — 7:04 am July 29, 2010 #

  8. Good to know that stealing public art and paying to avoid prosecution is an option. I’ll have to rethink my retirement plans.

    Comment by Josh — 7:38 am July 29, 2010 #

  9. Thank you WSB for not having all kinds of ridiculous popup adverts (unlike the site at the link in a previous post which tried to sell me cupcakes before letting me have information).

    Comment by austin — 8:12 am July 29, 2010 #

  10. Austin – We do hope you will consider doing business with our sponsors (which include in fact a cupcake purveyor, Cupcake Royale), but we are indeed committed to non-intrusive advertising formats, as we have been since going commercial almost 3 years ago. We are glad to have sponsors who agree that their messages can be conveyed effectively without getting in the way of the news.

    Comment by WSB — 8:19 am July 29, 2010 #

  11. A hearty “THANK YOU!” to West Seattle resident Charles Edward Jenks, 70, who is not a thief, but just a clumsy philanthropist.

    Jenks agreed to pay more than $20,000 to retrieve and restore the totem pole in lieu of facing criminal charges, said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County Prosecutor’s Office.

    Comment by I. Ponder — 8:37 am July 29, 2010 #

  12. Are any Native Americans going to be at the re-dedication? Seems to me to be appropriate. This is about the Totem and not the park. Wasn’t there an earlier story about the artist and his son? How about some history in this? The art lives, but our people are being forgotten…How much does the general public really know about totem history. It’s not just something interesting to look at….

    Comment by R Perrault — 9:03 am July 29, 2010 #

  13. RP – Yes, I believe we mentioned in the earlier story that the family, including the artist, plans to be at the rededication. We published a story about the artist, Robin Young, after speaking with him in December:
    http://westseattleblog.com/2009/12/west-seattles-stolen-totem-pole-meet-the-man-who-carved-it
    .
    That story includes a photo provided by the family, with him and others at the dedication.

    Comment by WSB — 9:07 am July 29, 2010 #

  14. Fantastic! Thank you!! :O)

    Comment by R Perrault — 9:33 am July 29, 2010 #

  15. Not fantastic, AWESOME!! The artistry of the totem reminded me of home. Now that I know he’s from N Dakota, no wonder. I grew up in northern Minnesota and I’m affiliated with Couchiching First Nation (Ontario, CA – just across the border) Ojibwe Anishinabe. Thanks for the great feelings WSB!!

    Comment by R Perrault — 9:39 am July 29, 2010 #

  16. I.Ponder,

    What possesed him to have the totem pole yanked from it’s spot in the first place? Just curious.

    Did he not think that anybody would notice that it was gone?

    I am glad it is back and it looks wonderful.

    Comment by Lola — 10:08 am July 29, 2010 #

  17. Yay! It’s Gorgeous!!!

    Comment by st — 10:43 am July 29, 2010 #

  18. It’s beautifully restored! Compare the photos from the original WSB article that show the freshly carved wood color, and then the deteriorated state, with the new shots. The enriched, aged wood makes it prettier than ever.

    Comment by RPH — 10:45 am July 29, 2010 #

  19. I still believe that that POS Jenks should do some time behind bars. I had no idea you could bargain your way out of grand larceny…

    Great job WSB!

    Comment by Prestolog — 12:09 pm July 29, 2010 #

  20. For those asking about the motive – we apologize for not enough background in some of these stories, when we should know not everyone has followed every last little detail…I’m afraid we’ve taken lately to writing as if we assume you DO know all the background. Went to the Times site to answer a comment there and brought up this URL, from a past document in the case. To summarize: Neighbors say he was going to put it in his rural Black Diamond home.
    http://westseattleblog.com/2009/12/one-more-totem-theft-case-update-the-alleged-motive

    Comment by WSB — 1:41 pm July 29, 2010 #

  21. Yeah! It’s beautiful.

    Comment by EPL — 3:14 pm July 29, 2010 #

  22. Assuming Jenks has a family, I just wonder how he justified the theft to his kids … or to his wife. “Hey, honey, look what I got at a garage sale yesterday! It’s a good thing I was there, too, otherwise they were gonna just throw this old totem pole away.”

    Comment by mark — 4:41 pm July 29, 2010 #

  23. It looks shorter. Any explanation?

    Comment by Laetis — 8:28 pm July 29, 2010 #

  24. At each phase of this story, I think, WSB needs to write a book about this theft. It is weirdly fascinating — the nerve of the guy, the way the theft was discovered, how the pole was found, and the reinstallation… it is oddly compelling, and, I’m sorry, entertaining.

    But I STILL think it’s a travesty that there were no charges. The guy is a THIEF. He should have been prosecuted AND had to pay for the restoration/re-installation. I honestly don’t understand why “we” let him off the hook.

    Comment by pam — 7:11 am July 30, 2010 #

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