Chehalis Aquatic Center Named in Honor of Shaws


The $2 million Chehalis Outdoor Pool will now be known as the Gail and Carolyn Shaw Aquatic Center, in honor of two long-time community members and supporters of the pool. 

Gail, 94, who was surprised by the honor at a Chehalis Foundation luncheon at Mackinaw’s on Friday afternoon, humbly accepted the recognition. Carolyn was unable to attend the luncheon.

“It is unbelieveable and you guys know notoriety is not my main objective in life,” Gail said. “I don’t need anything more than your approval.” 

Gail, the former chairman of the Industrial Commission, an economic development group he helped create in the 1950s to build an industrial area south of Chehalis, has been involved with various community projects ever since. 

“I had no idea,” Gail said about the naming. “I don’t need the recognition.” 

Orin Smith, a Chehalis native and retired Starbucks Coffee Company president and CEO, presented Gail with the distinction at the Chehalis Foundation meeting. 

Smith, the largest contributor to the outdoor pool renovations, was tasked with naming the pool and chose the Shaws.

“There is no doubt they deserve this honor and more,” Smith said. “They inspire me.” 

Pool donors Don Rhodes and Jim Lintott are also selecting names for the spray park and pool. The spray park will be known as the “Chester V and Henrietta Rhodes Spray Park,” named after Rhodes’ parents. Lintott has not decided a name for the pool yet. 

Along with naming the complex, the Chehalis Foundation also released new designs of the outdoor pool that include slides, water toys and a zero depth pool or a beach-entry style pool connected to the original swimming pool. 

The outdoor pool will also have new fencing, concrete walkways and benches. The pool building will be demolished and rebuilt 1,000-square-feet larger.

“(The additions) will make the whole area look like an aquatic center,” Chehalis Foundation member Connie Bode said. 

The ambitious designs for the pool, crafted by Pfaff Architects in Chehalis, were made possible by donations from a variety of community members and two $250,000 state grants. 

The Chehalis Foundation and the city of Chehalis had about $200,000 to replace some pipes last October, and now the partners have about $2 million for the pool project. 

Kevin Smith, Orin’s brother, also spoke at the luncheon on Friday and applauded the leadership in the room, which included county commissioners, educators and local business owners. 

Kevin pointed out that many in the audience are the sons and daughters of those who helped open the pool in 1959. 

“Now it’s our turn,” Kevin said. 

Construction on the outdoor pool is scheduled for Labor Day after the pool closes for the season. 

The project will go out to bid next month and construction will be complete by next spring. 

Connie Bode, the lead Chehalis Foundation organizer for the pool project, said she is still impressed with the community transforming the project from a $200,000 budget last year to raising $2 million. 

“It’s beyond my wildest expectations,” Bode said.