Bill Moeller Commentary: Remembering Jolene


I had wanted to submit this column to The Chronicle last week, but I also didn’t want to interrupt the series I was writing about the Gate schoolhouse and I knew my comments on her passing would be well noted by others. 

Some of my observations tie in with a column I wrote earlier this year about interviewing two women on the radio program I initiated on KELA, “Let’s Talk About It.” 

One was Patty Murray who was running for the United States Senate for the first time. The other was a member of the Washington state House of Representatives. 

I praised both of them, but for some reason I can’t justify today, I only mentioned the name Murray in that column. 

I identified the other interviewee by mischievously saying I was madly in love for the 30 minutes of the show.  My only excuse for that blooper was to say, as comedian Flip Wilson used to say back in the 1970s, “the devil made me do it.”

I was, of course, referring to Jolene Unsoeld, who passed away Nov. 28. 

I can only justify that blooper of mine in that I said what others have thought, namely that— with Jolene — the individual came before any party platform.

I hope you read every word of the tribute to her in the Dec. 2 issue of this newspaper, The Olympian and others. 

Limited space denies me the ability to list all the things she fought for, but if you type in her name on your computer, you’ll find enough references to keep you busy for quite a while.

In thinking back through the years, I realize that, although we would meet and say “hello” or something similar on several occasions, the only other meeting was when — quite a few years ago — I was invited to a backyard picnic at her home. 

I pondered the reason for my having received the invitation but that didn’t stop me from attending it.

Over the years that followed, I’ve thought less and less about who was there but have remembered how closely together her children worked in seeing that the guests were comfortable and fed. 

It was a nice family feeling. I have no recollection of any liquor being served, but I also have no recollection that it wasn’t.

For those who knew her better than I did, the loss must be difficult to accept.

There’s one more thing I’d like to mention before I reach the end of the allotted space. That is to use those four stripes that once decorated the arms of my olive drab uniform and order each and every one of you to not miss the annual display of lights, color and motion that make up this year’s Christmas display at Centralia’s Fort Borst Park. 

I didn’t count the lighted — and moving — displays but it seemed that there are at least twice the amount as in previous years.

The route has been moved but there are enough lighted signs displayed along the way to it and you’d have to drive with your eyes closed to miss it. 

Just head toward the baseball fields and let the lighted signs take it from there. 

One aspect of the annual event has been changed: the advertising signs that used to line the entire driveway have been eliminated from the lighted display and placed at the entrance. 

The income from them will be missed but the pleasure of a better view of the entire display should draw more cars full of family members. 

The cost has not been raised. It’s still $5 per car, no matter how many family members are crammed into it.  And, if you have a spare can or two of food, it’ll be well received at the opening gate.


Bill Moeller is a former entertainer, mayor, bookstore owner, city council member, paratrooper and pilot living in Centralia. He can be reached at