By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
In this morning’s West Seattle Grand Parade, your WSB co-publishers will be proudly carrying the Orville Rummel Trophy for Outstanding Service to the Community, bestowed by parade-sponsoring American Legion Post 160. It’s been awarded annually since 1984:
When parade organizers shared the news, they also observed that aside from the trophy itself, which each recipient gets to keep till the following summer, there wasn’t much written history about it. So we set out to see if we could take a swing at starting to change that.
Orville Rummel founded the parade back in 1934. The photo at left is from a framed, crinkled-but-treasured copy of the front page of what the logo declared to be the “West Seattle Herald Incorporating The West Seattle News,” published at the start of the Hi-Yu Festival, that same year. It hangs on the north wall of the American Legion Post 160 Hall in The Triangle; Rummel was the post’s commander, and chair of the Hi-Yu Committee, in 1934. Unfortunately, he’s not still around to tell his stories; online records show he died in Kitsap County right about Hi-Yu time in 1998 – July 16, to be exact – just a few weeks short of what would have been his 99th birthday.
Back in Orville Rummel’s heyday, the Legion stopped running Hi-Yu after a few years; it resumed as an independent effort in 1949, though Post 160 remains a Hi-Yu trustee.
Ahead, the list of a quarter-century-plus of winners. And then – we check in with two of the longtime West Seattle businesspeople who’ve been honored with the Orville Rummel Trophy.
Here’s the full list of winners – from the engraving on two sides of the trophy:
1984: Charles and Ann Gage
1985: RB Chris Crisler Jr.
1986: Morgan and Carol McBride
1987: Margaret Miaullis
1988: Charles Jung
1989: Aurlo Bonney
1990: Katie Thorburn
1991: Dorothy Poplawski
1992: Dan Wiseman
1993: Virgil Sheppard
1994: Dorene Smith
1995: Doris Richards
1996: John Kelly
1997: Dick Kennedy
1998: Jim Edwards and Barbara Edwards
1999: Lt. David E. Cass
2000: Husky Deli/Miller Family
2001: Stephanie Haskins
2002: Forest Lawn
2003: Sue Lindblom
2004: Edgar and Ann Phipps
2005: Karen Sisson
2006: Walt DeLong
2007: David and Doreen Vague
2008: Tim St. Clair
2009: Morey Skaret
Maybe next year we’ll be able to tell you more about them all. This year, though, we set out to check on a few, and here are the two we reached:
VIRGIL SHEPPARD, 1993 ORVILLE RUMMEL TROPHY WINNER
He owned Sheppard’s Drug Store for more than 30 years – 1956 to 1987 – and still owns the California/Admiral building where he had the store – originally in the Linda’s Flowers and Gifts space right on the corner, which he says had held a pharmacy since 1909 – then in the space that’s currently home to Alki Bike and Board.
Virgil, 89, now lives up in the North Sound, where we reached him by phone for a chat on Friday. He was watching goldfinches at the bird feeder just before he picked up.
Turning the clock back a few decades, he recalls the 1993 parade ride with the Rummel Trophy. “I didn’t do community service to win an award – I was worrying about everything that was going on in West Seattle,” he says. Over the course of the next half-hour, we hear about many ways in which he pitched in to strengthen the community, but one of the first he mentions is a campaign to help convince kids not to abuse drugs – an interesting choice for a pharmacist, but it also worked hand-in-hand with his industry leadership; he mentions being president of the state association the year a methadone program was founded, and he went around to schools with three young recovering addicts to talk about the dangers of drugs. (And other substances – he mentions glue and paint sniffing.”
He has tales to tell about being in the thick of things for fighting crime – spending years on a citywide commission that among other things founded the neighborhood crime councils, like the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council – and trying to get West Seattle a new bridge, as part of a campaign he recalls as “fun” – including advocates getting out on the bay and rowing around to make their point. Eventually, he said, after he and other community advocates “kept pounding on” the issue, there was a breakthrough – too bad now, he chuckles, the bridge has such trafifc trouble.
1993 wasn’t the only year he rode in the West Seattle Grand Parade to celebrate an award; he mentions a Man of the Year award in the 1970s from the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce – of which, he points out proudly, he remains a member to this day.
He also helped organize the Admiral merchants’ association, and a tree-planting effort – same trees you see there now, he says, though he laughs, “They’re beautiful trees, but the city picked a lousy tree – they’re linden trees,” which seem to create a mess almost any season of the year, whether by dropping leaves or by dropping sticky sap.
Back to the parade: Besides his two award rides, Virgil says he drove a car in the parade a few times – once, noting somebody had managed to run down the gas tank, “so we had to stop for gas before we could get on the parade route!” Then there were the years he joined in serving hot dogs and hamburgers to the big community picnic at Lincoln Park that used to be a West Seattle tradition. He and Orville Rummel himself were among those “on duty” the day of the first moon landing, July 20, 1969. “People were listening on the radio and we heard them cheer!”
Fast forward 41 years. “I miss the people in West Seattle but I go down there once in a while – I’ll be out working on the sidewalk or something, and people will come say hi.”
Some of the people he remembers have long since moved away themselves – like Diane Friesen, aka actress Dyan Cannon. “She traded in our store,” Virgil notes, also mentioning the tiled bus shelter on the north side of his building, with tile art honoring Friesen/Cannon and other famous West Seattleites. Shortly after our conversation, we went up for a look, and took this photo:
Someone’s scrawled orange marks on some of the tiles – sadly ironic, since Virgil mentioned working to fight graffiti, decades ago.
SUE LINDBLOM, 2003 ORVILLE RUMMEL TROPHY WINNER
Sue’s been running her salon Illusions Hair Design (which is a WSB sponsor) since 1978, and it’s almost as much about community service as it is about hair.
For example, in today’s parade, the iconic iridescent Illusions-logo VW bug will roll down California SW to promote tomorrow’s car wash to raise money for Pencil Me In for Kids (11-3 Sunday at the West Seattle Eagles). As we sat down to chat in her salon a few days ago, the walls and counters were dotted with reminders of the “Roundup” campaign that was under way – rounding up your tab, to tack on a donation for the campaign, which provides school supplies to kids in need.
(Stylist Rita with client Jackie during “Have a Heart Day” 2009)
Even before getting involved with Pencil Me in for Kids, Sue says, they started Have a Heart Day, where the Illusions crew donates their time on a specific day so that haircuts can be booked with all proceeds going to charity (a different one each year).
“We’re all about trying to do things for people,” she smiles.
Her biggest upcoming role in that arena will be as president of the Rotary Club of West Seattle next year. She’s been part of the organization about a decade, recalling that she attended a meeting and felt, “This is where I belong.”
Sue is a West Seattle native, “born above Talarico’s,” where the old West Seattle Hospital used to be (a now-removed second floor atop the building on the southeast corner of California/Alaska). “That’s MY Junction,” she says proudly. Her daughter Heather, also part of the Illusions staff, doesn’t live far from where Sue lives now, and many other family members live in West Seattle, including five of her seven grandchildren.
She won’t be in the Illusions Bug during today’s parade – some other duty is calling. And as for the car wash the next day, she says it may be the last – not because they’re dropping the concept of car washes to raise money, but because they’ve discovered coupons that nonprofits can sell for “fish-friendly” car washes, providing both a nice discount to the buyer, and a hefty cut to the nonprofit. (They’ll sell these coupons tomorrow – and next year, that may be the entirety of the fundraiser.)
But while she says she “really enjoys” being in the parade with the bug, riding with the Orville Rummel Trophy in 2003 was her first time in the West Seattle Grand Parade – a cherished memory.
In a few hours, we’ll become caretakers of the trophy that bears the names of Sue Lindblom, Virgil Sheppard, and the others listed above who’ve received it over the past quarter-century-plus. And then, it’ll be off down the parade route, along with hundreds of people in a lineup that’s now up to 78 entries, according to parade co-coordinator Jim Edwards – himself a past Orville Rummel Trophy winner along with wife Barbara Edwards. Here’s to both history and new memories; hope to see you there.