February 14, 2000
Bob Kosters and granddaughter Rikki Blanken.
by Lisa Allen, Valley View editor
DUVALL--As a writer of local history, Gerrit "Bob" Kosters was meticulous.
Because he had lived in the area for over half a century and knew many of the early pioneers, he probably could have relied on his memory for much of the information he used in articles he wrote for the Duvall Historical Society's newsletter, The Wagon Wheel. But memory wasn't enough.
"He was a careful researcher," said longtime Wagon Wheel colleague Mary Lampson. "Before committing to an article, if he couldn't prove it, he wouldn't write it."
Bob Kosters is now part of the history he worked so hard to preserve. Mr. Kosters, a family man, retired farmer and beloved local historian, died February 4 at his home of 51 years, on the farm near Duvall where his wife, Mae, was born. He was 76.
He has left a lasting legacy with his historical accounts which have been compiled into a book. He also archived an extensive collection of photos and newspaper articles in countless albums at his home. For 17 years, he wrote most of the stories for The Wagon Wheel.
Lampson, who co-edited the newsletter with Bob, said last week he will be greatly missed. "We had a great working relationship," she recalled. "Bob did all the research and writing and I did the word processing."
Lampson said Bob wrote enough additional stories that the Society can publish another book. "There are stories of the people in the Valley, activities, floods, the big snow ... any kinds of memories he could dig up," she said.
Mae said Bob loved to read and write, even though he had been ill for a long time with diabetes and lung disease. "There are a lot of things still here he had been working on," she said. "He had to do something to keep busy, and he enjoyed it."
Mr. Kosters was born January 9, 1924, in Douglas County, South Dakota, on a farm near Harrison where his grandparents had homesteaded in 1882. Bob's family moved from South Dakota to Grangeville, Idaho, in 1933, where he lived and worked for farmers until 1940, when they moved to the Rosen farm at Novelty, Washington. He worked for several farmers in the Duvall area and also worked at the Carnation Cannery and Kirkland shipyards.
In October 1944, he married Mae Spoelstra in Duvall. In 1949, they began dairy farming on the Spoelstra farm where they raised their family.
According to his son, Ken, while operating the farm, Bob served on several farm organizations and spent many years on the Lower Snoqualmie School District Board. In the late 1960s, many farmers organized the Valley Greenbelt Association, which worked to preserve the Valley for future generations. Bob was a member of the board, and one of their first efforts blocked sewage from being dumped into the river.
In the 1970s, Bob began to gather information and write about the area's history. In a tribute to Bob, Lampson noted in the last edition of The Wagon Wheel, that "although Bob was not born here, he loved the area like an adopted son.
"He was able to indulge his passion for history and put his knowledge of the Valley to good use ... his work has provided material for nearly 17 years of The Wagon Wheel. Researchers were directed to Bob and Mae for information about the Valley ... now it is Bob's turn to be remembered. Bob, your days among us are gone, but you will be remembered. Your life and contributions to our community's history will never be forgotten. We are grateful for the treasures you have shared."
Mr. Kosters is survived by his wife of 55 years, Mae; sons Ken, Ted, and Bob; four grandsons, two granddaughters, and one great-granddaughter; brothers Bill, Tony, Leroy, and Kurtis, and sisters Dorthy, Phyliss, Mae Rose, Joyce, and Patty. He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother, and one sister.
The family wishes to thank the community for the time they spent with Bob. A memorial gathering will be held at the Duvall Depot on February 19 from 1-4 p.m. Any remembrances may be made to the Duvall Historical Society or to Fire District 45.