A Look Back in Time: Two Men Use False Identity, Wine to Rob Centralia Resident in 1943


Warrants charging two Centralia residents with grand larceny were announced by Lewis County Sheriff J.A. Blankenship on Thursday, May 27, 1943. The warrants were for George King and Glenn Darnell Starr. The warrants were the “outcome of a Monday night drinking party from which Earl Baxter, also of Centralia, claims he awoke minus his car and more than $250 in personal property and money.” 

According to Baxter, Starr, with whom Baxter was acquainted, “came to his home Monday evening, accompanied by King.”

“Ill at the Baxter home was his nephew, and Starr represented King as a physician from a Chehalis hospital. Whether King pretended to administer to the nephew was not ascertained, but in any event he and Starr instituted on having a drink of wine,” The Chronicle reported.

Baxter wasn’t sure what happened after he started drinking, but told officers “wine was practically forced down his throat.” 

The three men then went on a drive in Baxter’s car before coming to a farmhouse, by which time Baxter was nearly unconscious. After saying they would soon return, Starr and King left Baxter at the farmhouse.

Later, it was determined that in addition to his car, Starr and King had taken a “suit of clothing,” a watch, a wallet with $50 cash, bedding, 25 shirts and other personal property.


Saturday, May 27, 1933

• A gathering of Lutherans from as far north as Everett to as far south as The Dalles, Oregon was to take place in Centralia on Sunday, May 28. The gathering was a joint rally of the Pacific Northwest and Columbia Luther Leagues. The program was to begin at 4:30 p.m. with devotional services at the Centralia Lutheran church. About 80 members of the leagues were expected to attend. 

• Diplomas were awarded on the night of Friday, May 26 to the largest graduating class in the history of Centralia Junior College, The Chronicle reported. In total, 29 students were given diplomas after completing two years of college work. The commencement speaker was Linden Mander, an associate professor of political science at the University of Washington. His speech was on the subject of “The Graduate and Statesman of Today.”

• David Seeley, a resident of Centralia for 43 years, had reportedly died in a local hospital following a lingering illness. Described by The Chronicle as a “pioneering Centralian,” Seeley was survived by a sister and two brothers. 

• Mary Moore, 72, died on Thursday, May 25 at her Tenino area home. Born in Illinois, Moore moved with her husband to Kansas for 16 years before the family moved to Washington 30 years before her death. She was survived by her husband, a son, three daughters, two brothers and three sisters. 

• A Sunday service celebrating Memorial Day was to be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Chehalis, The Chronicle reported. The church’s pastor, Rev. J.C. Tourtellot was to deliver a sermon entitled “Spiritual Disarmament.”

• The 91 members of the Chehalis High School Class of 1933 were to receive their diplomas at the school’s 41st annual commencement on Thursday, June 1 at 8 p.m. The class consisted of 44 girls and 47 boys. Of the graduates, 10 girls and four boys were honor students. Helen Waldron was the valedictorian and Fran Tourtellot was the salutatorian. Rev. J.C. Tourtellot of Chehalis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church was to deliver the invocation. 

• In an Associated Press story featured in The Chronicle, it was reported the heads of Germany’s 29 “landeskirchen,” or protestant church groups, ratified the nomination of Rev. Friedrich von Bodelschwingh as Bishop of the Reich. The decision was in defiance of a threat of “most dire consequences” by the German Christians, a Nazi-aligned group of protestant churches. “Although belonging to the Lutheran Church, he was endorsed along with the reformed churches and the united churches, as well as the smaller protestant bodies,” The AP reported. 


Thursday, May 27, 1943

• Centralia was expected to observe Memorial Day on Monday, May 31 at the city park “with World War II adding a significance not known in other years,” The Chronicle reported. The ceremony was to feature Lt. Col. Clarence Nelsen, post chaplain for Fort Lewis, as the main speaker. Nelsen, in addition to serving 19 years in the Army and National Guard, had served as mayor of Salt Lake City for 10 years, a Utah state Senator and was the Utah state Insurance Commissioner when he resigned in 1941 to rejoin active military service. The event, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., was to include the participation of veterans’ groups, including the United Spanish War Veterans and Auxiliary.

• Diplomas were expected to be given out to 87 Chehalis Senior High School students during the school’s 51st annual commencement, The Chronicle reported. The ceremony was to take place in the junior high school auditorium on May 27 at 8 p.m. During the event, a pageant entitled “The Spirit of ‘76” was to be performed, depicting the development of the United States since the Declaration of Independence. Norman Handlin was to graduate as valedictorian with a 4.0 GPA. Robert Quick was to graduate salutatorian with a 3.85 GPA. Quick was to attend West Point after graduation. 

• The commencement ceremony for Centralia High School was scheduled for 8 p.m. on May 27 with 139 seniors receiving their diplomas, 12 less than in 1942. Ruth Wasson was the valedictorian and Lelaand McElfresh was the salutatorian. 

• The Chehalis School District was expected to lose teachers due the U.S.’ ongoing participation in World War II and some teachers moving to other districts, according to Chehalis Superintendent John Glann. Three teachers, two of whom were women, were to receive commissions in the Navy. William Richert, the junior high school civics teacher, would be commissioned as a lieutenant in the Navy; Cora Harms, the senior high school librarian, was to receive a commission in the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES); and Ann Walsh, a school nurse, was to be commissioned and join the Navy Nursing Corps. Several other teachers were also leaving the district to join the military.

• A picture from the Association Press of Helen McWirter working with a machine was featured in The Chronicle. According to the picture’s caption, McWirter, a 25-year-old housewife, was the 100,000th trainee of the Seattle Schools’ war production training program, since it was created in May of 1939. The machine she was working with was reported to be a vertical milling machine in the training center. 

• Virgil Ward, 16, had reportedly suffered a compound fracture on his right leg just after 10 p.m. on Tuesday, May 25 when a “heavy truck” collided with his bicycle on the Pacific Highway about half a mile west of Centralia. Ward was taken to the Lewis County General Hospital where a doctor said Ward had only suffered bruises besides his broken leg. State Patrolman George Cobb said the truck’s lights appear to have failed as it neared Ward, who was riding on the wrong side of the pavement. 

• War bond sales were down in Centralia, The Chronicle reported. While during the first three weeks of May bond sales totaled $55,495, during the previous week the rate of bond sales had declined with only $14,420 being sold.


Wednesday, May 27, 1953

• Lewis County School Superintendent Florence Kennicott announced there would be a public hearing on whether the Centralia School Board was justified in terminating the contract of Centralia Superintendent William Bloom, The Chronicle reported. The hearing, announced by Kennicott, would be in Kennicott’s courthouse office at 9 a.m. the next Tuesday. According to Morrill Folsom, the president of the Centralia School Board, all members of the board would be present. The controversy over Bloom when the board declined to renew his contract for when it expired in June 1954. After a March 10 school board election, the board voted for Bloom to leave his post on June 30, 1953. Bloom was appealing to Kennicott the decision to terminate his contract before June 1954. The Chronicle reported Bloom made an annual salary of about $8,000.

• The eighth grade class of St. Joseph’s School in Chehalis held its annual commencement on the evening of Friday, May 22. Two plays were presented at the commencement, “The Selfish Giant” was performed by the “primary” grades and “The Pampered Darling” was performed by the eighth grade. James Thummel won the achievement award for highest scholastic standing while Carol Schuser received the Knights of Columbus religion award. The members of the graduating class were Leslie Atkins, David Burgen, Robert McCormick, James Thummel, Wayne Limmer, John Huett, Carla Lindner, Theresa Sareault, Dolores Baginski, Judith Spry, Carol Schuster and Dolores Habersetzer. 

• Ture Hanson, a 71-year-old who had lived in Rochester for 40 years, died at his home on the morning of Tuesday, May 26. Hanson was born on May 23, 1882 in Finland. He was survived by his wife, two daughters and five grandchildren. 

• Diplomas were to be handed out to 28 grade school graduates in Adna on Friday, May 29, The Chronicle reported. The announcement came from Principal Robert Eastman. The graduates were Joan Balsley, Donna Benberg, Mary Courtney, Anna Geiszler, Edith Geiszler, Sharon Kerrigan, Janice Ozar, Marion Patch, May Lou Setzer, Mary Simonds, Marion Tanksley, Barbara Thayer, Ellen Toporke, Evelyn Vetter, Lawrence Adolphsen, Fred Ambsdorf, Claire Dykes, Ross Dykes, Walter Geiszler, Don Grigsby, Joseph Grigsby, Walter Grigsby, Don Haase, Joe Morgan, Bob Norman, Lee Thomas, Alan Waltar and Ken Wilson.

• Ten Chehalis High School Seniors received scholarships for “outstanding accomplishments” during high school, according to principal Roscoe Mitten. The awards were to be presented during the high school’s commencement at the R.E. Bennett auditorium on the night of Friday, May 29. Mike Stedham won a $200 scholarship from Washington State College. Barbara Kaufman and Lorraine Kaija, who served as the editor of the school paper and editor of the school radio program, respectively, both won $150 scholarships from Willamette University. Shirley Pemerl, the valedictorian, received a $100 scholarship to Gonzaga University. Larry Noel received a scholarship to Centralia Junior College. Dick Baldwin was awarded a $100 scholarship to Eastern Washington College of Education (now known as Eastern Washington University). Charlotte Temple won a scholarship of about $119 for Central Washington College of Education (now known as Central Washington University). Jessie Steep was awarded a $50 scholarship from Brigham Young University. Frances Atterton was awarded a Brigham Young music scholarship of an unspecified amount. Carol Trupp was awarded a $100 scholarship to Western Washington College of Education (now known as Western Washington University).

• The Centralia community swimming pool was expected to open for its third season on Sunday, May 31 at 2 p.m., “providing Jupe Pluvius doesn’t continue his drippy routine.” While the pool was expected to open during the upcoming weekend, the “popular youth swimming classes” would not begin until the middle of June. During the first two weeks of June, vacation bible schools would use the pool during mornings. Annual season tickets for the pool were to remain the same as in 1952, with a cost of $10 for a family and $7 for an individual. 

• What “about everybody” thought was a rainy first spring was actually below average, The Chronicle reported. Data reportedly showed monthly totals for the first five months of the year had been below average “with the exception of January, when residents almost sprouted web feet because of excess water.” The total rainfall for the first five months of 1953 stood at a reported 25.33 inches, 3.77 inches below the 1952 number of 29.10 inches. 


Monday, May 27, 1963

• Laura Johnson died in a Seattle hospital on Sunday, May 26 at the age of 64. A resident of Adna for 20 years, Johnson was born on Nov. 9, 1898 in Copenhagen, Denmark. She was survived by her husband, three daughters, a son, a sister and six grandchildren.

• A picture was featured in The Chronicle showing three Korean children, with one of them holding an American flag. The caption for the picture said the children had been adopted and were among the nine Lewis County residents who had been granted U.S. citizenship the week before during a naturalization hearing in Lewis County Superior Court. The ceremony was overseen by Judge Dorwin Cunningham. The three children were listed as being Janet Kay Hamilton, the three-year-old daughter of “Mrs. Marvin Hamilton” of Chehalis, Patty Sue Twiss, the eight-year-old daughter of “Dr. and Mrs. A.R. Twiss” of Chehalis and Kimme Darlene Osborn, the six-year-old daughter of “Mr. and Mrs. Eckert Osborn” of Winlock.

• “Mrs. Minnie Emerson” had died in a Centralia nursing home on Saturday, May 25 at the age of 90, The Chronicle reported. Emerson, a resident of Chehalis for 47 years, was born on April 15, 1873 in Russia. She had moved to the Chehalis area in 1916. She was survived by one son.

• The seniors of Mossyrock High School were expected to enjoy an all-night party put on for them by the Mossyrock Parent-Teacher Association. “The seniors at Mossyrock High School who plan to celebrate their graduation Friday night had better catch up on their sleep,” The Chronicle reported. The party was to start immediately after the end of commencement exercises. A breakfast was to be held at 5 a.m. at Fort Borst Park in Centralia. According to The Chronicle’s story, the Mossyrock PTA sponsored the event every year.

• According to an Associated Press story featured in The Chronicle, concerns were growing about the health of then-Pope John XXIII. The pope’s illness came as President John F. Kennedy was coming to visit him at the Vatican, forcing the meeting to be suspended. The 81-year-old pope was being confined to his apartment because he was “gravely weakened by recurrent hemorrhages.” Pope John XXIII would die a few days later on June 3.

• Centralia was expected to celebrate “Fiesta Days” on Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1. The event was sponsored by the retail trades committee of the Centralia Chamber of Commerce and was expected to include sales, sidewalk booths, dances, an art show, an auto show and a boat show. “Don’t plan on a siesta this Friday and Saturday - it’s Fiesta time in Centralia! With blue-eyed brunette Carol Yocom ruling as queen, the 10th annual Fiesta Days program is scheduled to start Friday and continue through Saturday,” The Chronicle reported. 

• Commencement exercises for Rochester High School were scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. on “Monday,” though The Chronicle failed to specify whether Monday referred to May 27 or June 3. Forty Rochester seniors were expected to receive their diplomas from Rochester School Board chair Blynn Cooper at the graduation ceremony. The ceremony was expected to include speeches from four students, Donna Hagedorn, the salutatorian; Kaye Mills, the valedictorian; Terry Schrader, the student body president; and Sandy Smith, the senior class president. The class motto for Rochester’s class of 1963 was “Fortune Favors the Brave.”