Rotary totem-pole rededication, report #1: ‘Story of community’

As Rotary Club of West Seattle past president Amy Lee Derenthal spoke tonight to the 100-plus people who gathered at Rotary Viewpoint Park to celebrate the stolen-then-returned-and-restored totem pole, she invoked the memory of longtime Rotarian Ken Wise, who helped sleuth the case. Mr. Wise, who died of cancer a little over a week ago, wanted to see the pole reinstalled before he died – “We made it!” Derenthal said proudly (referring to the pole’s July 28th reinstallation), while lamenting he couldn’t have been there for tonight’s ceremony – and among the crowd, voices rippled, “He’s here, he’s here.” As were members of his family:

(From left, granddaughters Amy Bentrott and Kelly Bentrott, daughter MaryAnn Bentrott, and widow Anne Wise.) Past president Derenthal also explained how the totem-pole thief had given Rotarians a chance to practice their “four-way test” of integrity and justice. Even those disappointed by how the case turned out, with a settlement rather than prosecution, might want to hear that explained on video in our second report; right now, the celebration is continuing at the West Seattle Golf Course just beneath the viewpoint:

At the start of tonight’s ceremony, Haida master carver Ralph Bennett drummed, and spoke of the pole’s mainstays, the thunderbird and whale – representing, he said, “the story of community.”

Before he drummed, he asked permission from Duwamish Tribe chair Cecile Hansen, who was in attendance:

Returning to West Seattle for the ceremony was Robin Young, the Native American carver who created the pole more than three decades ago:

He was at its dedication too – here’s the 1976 photo his family shared with us for a December story:

(Photo provided by carver Robin Young(third from left) ‘s daughter Tracy Zimmerman)
At the time, he told WSB he hoped to be at the park for the totem pole’s rededication – and that wish came true. The event, by the way, began with a greeting from West Seattle Rotary president Steve Fuller:

Meantime, our video from tonight’s event is coming up in a separate story.

3 Replies to "Rotary totem-pole rededication, report #1: 'Story of community'"

  • W.e.t-nw August 10, 2010 (9:19 pm)

    You rock Amy Lee!

  • Donn August 10, 2010 (9:53 pm)

    It appears that the new colors are not the same as the original colors. Was there any reason for the change?

  • Mookie August 11, 2010 (12:42 am)

    So grateful to see the totem pole back, and so beautifully restored. Thank you for telling the story!

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