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‘Mr. and Mrs. Kenmore’ still remembered
Thirty years ago this month, city named park after well-known volunteers
A June 1980 article on their “second retirement” nicely spells out why the Kenmore community decided to make a pretty big deal out of what was then the impending departure of John and Anne Wallace.
The article appeared in the Northshore Citizen, a direct ancestor of the Bothell-Kenmore Reporter.
According to that article, among the local groups and activities touched by the couple: the Kenmore Little League. The Kenmore Library Board. The Kenmore Community Club. Frontier Days. The Lions Club. What was then known as the Greater Kenmore Business Association. The article described John Wallace as instrumental in getting the Northshore YMCA off the ground.
“Dad was at the meetings, mom was on the phone,” Kristi Wallace Ollestad said of her parents. Those phone calls involved setting schedules, fund-raising or really pretty much anything that needed doing for the various organizations Ollestad said her mom and dad were involved with.
Another Citizen article explains one of the key reasons for this article. On June 7, 1980, what was Swamp Creek Park officially became Wallace Swamp Creek Park, named after John and Ann Wallace, making this the 30th anniversary of the renaming of what is now a city of Kenmore institution.
The naming of the park really was only one part of “Wallace Week in Kenmore,” marking and celebrating John and Anne’s “second retirement,” which meant a move from Kenmore to Whitefish, Mont., where John Wallace, 89, still lives today.
Anne Wallace passed away in 1985.
Back in 1980, Wallace Week included everything from Wallace T-shirts to a dinner and “roasting” of the couple by community leaders and officials. Someone presented Anne Wallace with a gold-colored phone.
“Wherever I go, people recognize me, they ask about my father,” said Ollestad, who returned to Kenmore a number of years ago after spending some time in California.
A Navy pilot, John Wallace is a World War II and Korean War veteran. (A Veteran’s Day article in a Montana paper talks about him chasing German submarines from the air.) After 21 years in the service, John retired and he and Anne settled down in Kenmore in 1962. As already stated, they didn’t exactly take to any rocking chairs.
“I think they probably did more than I was aware of at the time,” Ollestad said. “I used to think it all was something they did to keep an eye on my brother and me... Now that I’m older and I have kids of my own, I can appreciate it a lot more.”
“I had just retired from the Navy and I needed something to do,” John Wallace said from his Montana home.
“Really, I thought I could make Kenmore a better place to live.”
Wallace talked a bit about helping the local schools, but mentioned the Kenmore Library as one of his favorite projects. He said he still subscribes to the Kenmore Community Club newsletter.
Since leaving Kenmore, Wallace has remarried, his wife Arlene is an old high-school friend he became reacquainted with during a 40-year class reunion. Predictably, John said the couple is still involved with their community, mostly through the American Legion and the local Whitefish historical group. He tries to visit Kenmore as much as possible.
“He’s still got that twinkle,” Ollestad said.
Community involvement really is a Wallace family tradition. In fact, the Kenmore park isn’t the only one named in honor of the Wallace clan. Both John and his daughter talked about a park in tiny Kendrick, Iowa, named after John’s parents, Lester and Lilly Wallace.
“The pressure is on,” Ollestad said of trying to live up to her parents’ reputation. “I don’t think we’re as good at it as they were.”
Still, she’s involved with her children’s schools and her church. Her oldest daughter is set to go on a mission trip to build houses through the family’s church.
“We’ve tried to pass it all on,” Ollestad said.