Ken Balsley Historian of the Year
Nominations open March 4, 2024.
Established in 2002, the Ken Balsley Lacey Historian of the Year award recognizes local residents and organizations that have made significant contributions to the preservation or promotion of Lacey’s history.
Review the Criteria
The individual or group must have made a significant contribution to the promotion or preservation of Lacey’s history.
Criteria may include but is not limited to:
- hours or time given
- duration of service
- significance of service
- donation of tangible property or monetary contribution.
Historical Commission Review
The Lacey Historical Commission reviews nominations at their regularly scheduled meeting in April.
Award recipients are notified by City staff.
Awards are announced during Lacey History Month in May at a City Council meeting.
Dr. Thelma Jackson
Congratulations to Dr. Thelma Jackson, the 2023 Ken Balsley Lacey Historian of the Year!
Dr Jackson has spent decades researching the Black people of Thurston County, culminating in a book, Blacks in Thurston County, Washington, 1950-1975: A Community Album. Jackson took on this project because there has been a large gap in the historical documentation of Black people in the area. She chose the 25-year period of 1950-1975 because of the increase of emigration during that times as well as the ability to conduct oral histories with still-living people. This book gives accounts of the struggle and triumph of civil rights and cultural identity of Blacks in Lacey. Dr. Jackson’s book adds yet another layer to Lacey’s story and inspires us to investigate what is know and unknown about Black community members in Lacey’s past.
Past Historians of the Year
2022 – Seth Huff
Seth was on the Lacey Historical Commission from 2017-2021. He was always willing to serve in whatever capacity he was needed. It was in 2019 during the museum’s popular Sasquatch exhibit that he became an invaluable member of the museum team, filling in as a gallery host during the summer when guests were lined up outside the door. He took on every task during his tenure with thoughtfulness and a deep sense of commitment to the Lacey community.
2020 – Marisa Merkel
Marisa was the Lacey Museum educator from 2018 until 2020. Although she was arguably “just doing her job,” Marisa went above and beyond what was expected–starting from zero knowledge of Lacey history, she took on the task of learning with gusto, putting together an impressive slate of new programming in the middle of the biggest year in the museum’s history. Through all of this she never complained, had a smile on her face, and an unbelievable enthusiasm for Lacey’s history.
2017 – Amy Turner
Amy Turner (1935-2016) grew up in Lacey and was a longtime member of the Lacey Historical Society and later a trustee. Her gift of making each person feel welcome and attended to was integral to her work on the Lacey School reunions. She would contact alumni and invite them to come out for a reunion. People rarely said no to her warm smile. Her beautiful floral arrangements and creative centerpieces graced many Society events.
2017 – Nora Brown
Aside from traveling the world as an army wife, Nora Brown (1927-2015) was a lifelong resident of Lacey, descended from Lacey pioneers. She was a longtime member of the Lacey Historical Society and became a trustee in 1992. Nora has donated numerous items over the years, especially photographs of the Lacey area, including photos of family, the Lacey School, Saint Martin’s, the Women’s Club, Union Mills and local businesses. Several of her donated photos have become iconic Lacey images.
2016 – Lori Flemm
Lori Flemm was the Director of Lacey Parks & Recreation from 2009 until 2016. She was an enthusiastic supporter and champion of Lacey history and the Lacey Museum. It was under her leadership that the new Lacey Museum project first got its wings—she spent countless hours planning, visiting museums, garnering support, and building partnerships for the project. She passed away in 2016.
2015 – Ken Balsley
Ken Balsley has been a non-stop force in the preservation and promotion of Lacey’s modern history for the last 40 years. Balsley was the founding president of the Lacey Historical Commission and a founding board member of the Lacey Historical Society. He has donated tens of thousands of photographs, documents and memorabilia to the Lacey Museum and was instrumental in the saving of Lacey’s first City Hall (now the Lacey Museum).
2014 – Richard Jones
Richard “Dick” Jones was a museum volunteer from 2013 until his death in 2019. Jones brought an incredibly rich knowledge of Lacey history with him; he served on Lacey’s first City Council and wrote the original municipal code. He worked very diligently on cataloguing hundreds of items in the museum collection, essentially building the foundation of the online database available today.
2013 – Susan Goff
Susan began as a volunteer at the Lacey Museum in 1987. She later assisted her daughter, Andrea, who was the museum curator in the 1990s by making negatives for the collection and slides for presentation. She has donated numerous items to the museum collection and has researched and contributed to many programs for the Lacey Historical Society’s annual meetings. She has clipped and copied newspaper articles over several years for the museum’s research files.
2012 – Diane Dean
Diane Dean served on the Lacey Historical Commission from 2003 to 2009, including serving as chair for a time. She spent countless hours as chair of the Lacey Museum at the Depot Committee working on the early stages of planning for the new museum project. She also chaired the 2012 Thurston County Through the Decades Committee, putting on a spectacular highly-successful event at Huntamer Park for thousands of community members.
2011 – Matthew Connor
Matthew Connor was the Youth Representative on the Lacey Historical Commission from 2010-2011. Connor researched and redeveloped the Lacey Museum’s educational outreach program. He gave his presentation to numerous classes in the North Thurston Public School system, local service organizations and other groups. He took on his commitment with enthusiasm and dedication to local history and public service.
2010 – Lanny Weaver
Lanny Weaver was the first Researcher at the Lacey Museum from 1993 – 1996. She spent many hours combing through old newspapers and archive collections to document Lacey’s history, essentially creating the museum’s research archive that we still rely on today. She has researched and written numerous articles that contribute to local history. Today Weaver is the president of the Lacey Historical Society and continues to give her time in dedication of local history.
2007 – Lyman Fleetwood
Lyman Fleetwood was a lifelong resident of Lacey with ancestral ties to Lacey’s pioneer family, the Fleetwoods. He was instrumental in saving the 1913 Lacey School bell which is on display at the Lacey Museum. He donated thousands of artifacts and photographs from his family to the Lacey Museum, substantially enriching the community’s archives and collection. He passed away in 2009.
2005 – Andrea Taylor
Andrea Goff (formerly Taylor) was the museum curator for the City of Lacey from 1993 to 2005. Andrea was instrumental in improving the museum’s professional standards. She organized the museum collections, improved acquisition procedures, and with her incredible design skills updated the museum exhibits. She built many relationships in the community, leading to donations or artifacts and archival collections to the Museum.
2004 – Dr. William Ehlers
Besides being a part of Lacey’s history himself as Lacey’s first doctor, Dr. William Ehlers was a founding member of the Lacey Historical Society, serving as Vice President and Treasurer. He was devoted to preserving the significant historical resources in Lacey and worked diligently to protect and preserve Lacey’s rich history.
2003 – Lacey Women’s Club
Formed in 1930, the Lacey Women’s Club has been serving the community for almost a century by fundraising and making needed items for local charities. In 1979, the Lacey Women’s Club donated the property for the Lacey Museum. They still meet in their clubhouse which is on the Lacey Historic Register.
2003 – Roger Easton
Roger Easton taught for 35 years in the North Thurston Public School District, most recently at Chinook Middle School in the History Department. Among his many contributions to local history, Roger served for 18 years on the Lacey Historical Commission. He devoted thousands of hours to researching local history, including transcribing pioneer George Himes’ diaries for the Lacey Museum. He passed away in 2010.
2002 – Shirley Dziedzic
A leader in the Lacey Historical Society, Shirley Dziedzic headed efforts for several historic projects, including the Remembrance Place at the Lacey Museum, the preservation of the Gallagher House, Lacey School reunions and the Lacey School memorial at the Carpenter Safeway. Active in the Sacred Heart Church, she was also a co-chair of Saint Martin’s 75th Anniversary Celebration. She has served on the Lacey Planning Commission and Historical Commission, has been recognized with her own day by the Lacey City Council, and was named the first Lacey Historian of the Year in 2002.