SEATTLE — Former Steilacoom first lady Anna Louella Dunkin turned 107 on Monday.
Dunkin celebrated a life well lived surrounded by friends and family at Arcadia Medical Resorts of University Place near Tacoma. The Mayor of University Place spoke at a celebration for Louella as she reflected on her cross-country adventures and quaint town on the shores of Puget Sound that she fought to protect.
“Lou” has seen and done a lot in her 107 years of life and even wrote a passionate book that aimed to protect a local town that would become her temporary home and eventual retirement location of choice. “Save Old Steilacoom” is still available on Amazon and follows the story of a small town on the shores of Puget Sound, adjusting to the sudden changes of urban sprawl. The Book eventually turned into two volumes ranging from 1976-81 and the second book covered 1980-2010.
Current Mayor Dick Muri said the Dunkin’s are responsible for much of the progress and protected beauty that Steilacoom enjoys today.
“When I got into politics in the 90’s I would go to their house and sit with them to get advice.” Muri said. Steilacoom is “wireless” because of the Dunkin's vision. “They buried our power lines and a big part of what make the city so picturesque today is that move they fought for.”
Louella came to western Washington with her husband Lyle as a part of a 26-year-career with the Department of Justice and a tour with the Navy. Retirement provided options in Texas, California and Washington D.C but the Dunkins chose to return to tiny Steilacoom and became involved in local politics.
Lyle served six years on the town council before becoming mayor for eight years. It was a tough time for Steilacoom, with explosive growth leading to the local history being destroyed.
Louella found her calling and wrote about the civic leaders who were determined to protect the historical town.
Lyle passed away in 2005 and Louella remained in the South Sound.
Louella and her Husband Lyle were such a dynamic duo that people often referred to them as “LouandLyle.” They have two daughters, Judith Ellen and Karen Diane.