News Column

WWCC 'mystery trip' takes nonagenarian down memory lane

June 10, 2014

By Annie Charnley Eveland, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, Wash.



June 10--A trip with an unknown destination brought back early memories for Frances Isabelle Rasmussen Nonemaker, 97, who on May 23 ended up at Maryhill Museum of Art, east of The Dalles, Ore., and overlooking the Columbia River on the Washington side. She got there via a QUEST program mystery tour group led by Linnea Keatts through Walla Walla Community College.

Maryhill features a standing exhibit on Queen Marie of Romania (1875-1938), who was a friend of museum founder Sam Hill. Marie presided at the museum's dedication ceremony in 1926. Included in the museum collection are the queen's coronation gown, crown, silverware, gilded furniture, jewelry and other artifacts.

Frances was a third-grader in 1926. As the railroad tracks were close by, students in her school got to watch Queen Marie and her entourage of 89 people aboard a long train as it passed through their town of Washougal, Wash., Frances said. "The Queen smiled at us and raised her hand in greeting. Then we had to go back to school."

Frances' son-in-law Bob Berger said she talked about her memories on the trip.

A docent photographed and interviewed Frances and loaded the photo and information onto the Maryhill Museum's Facebook page.

Linnea noted on the Maryhill Facebook page that "It was such a treat to have Frances" along on the journey. "She takes all my Mystery Trips and is such a lovely, sweet lady."

Maryhill Museum of Art is housed in a beaux-arts mansion on 5,300 acres overlooking the Columbia River. It opened to the public on May 13, 1940. Sam Hill's original plans to establish a Quaker farming community there didn't pan out. Instead, friends Loie Fuller, Queen Marie and Alma de Bretteville Spreckles encouraged the entrepreneur to establish a museum. An extensive restoration was completed just two years ago.

"What a delightful experience for all of us. It made our trip extra special," Linnea said.

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(c)2014 Walla Walla Union-Bulletin (Walla Walla, Wash.)

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Source: Walla Walla Union-Bulletin (WA)