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Big nine-five for Snoqualmie’s Gloria McNeely

Snoqualmie’s Gloria McNeely, center, stands with friends at a city party in honor of her 95th birthday. From left are Lanice Gillard, Bob Jeans, Mayor Matt Larson, Harley Brumbaugh and Dave Battey. - Seth Truscott/Staff Photo
Snoqualmie’s Gloria McNeely, center, stands with friends at a city party in honor of her 95th birthday. From left are Lanice Gillard, Bob Jeans, Mayor Matt Larson, Harley Brumbaugh and Dave Battey.
— image credit: Seth Truscott/Staff Photo

Gloria McNeely is five years shy of a century. She plans to make it, too, and 2020 isn’t that much of a stretch.

McNelly was born on Feb. 12, 1919. She’s not only seen a lot, she’s done a lot, and made enough friends to warrant a 95th birthday celebration, held last Monday at Snoqualmie City Hall, put together by her local friends.

The Snoqualmie resident is humble about all the attention, but takes it all with good grace, and a few tears.

“I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful place, surrounded by so many warm, lovely people,” she said. “They all have a special part in my life.”

McNeely has been a Snoqualmie resident for more than 70 years. Part of the reason she’s going strong is her engagement in the community.

She’s a dedicated local historian and editor—Gloria was an editor, writer and bookkeeper at the Valley Record during the 1950s—who to this day, puts in work on the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum’s publications.

She helped plan the city’s centennial celebration, and meticulously documented the area’s history.

When the love of her life, husband Denton, died of cancer in 1987, Gloria did her best to fill the void with civic involvement.

“I started getting out and volunteering for stuff, because staying at home was not an option,” she told the Record in 2010, when she received a lifetime achievement award from the city, plus the key to Snoqualmie.

“That’s what motivated me,” she said. “How do you fill this gaping hole? Well, it turns out, you don’t.”

Instead, McNeely focused on her family, and her passion for history and the arts. She joined the museum board in 1987 because she enjoyed history and wanted to preserve the city’s heritage for her children. Later, she got involved with Snoqualmie Valley Arts Live, and served on the Snoqualmie Arts Commission. She’s an active member of the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce; she sings on the choir at the Snoqualmie United Methodist Church, which named her Mother of the Year in 1993; member of the original Voices of the Valley Singers; and member of the former Mount Si Business and Professional Women’s Association, a group that provided a network of support for businesswomen, and awarded an annual scholarship to a high school student.

At no point did she ever expect or seek her much-deserved accolades, and even as she graciously accepts them, she tries to share the credit with others.

She’s also a big reader, a book addict—a trait that runs in the family.

“She and I are really bad when it comes to books,” said Doreen Moore of Fall City, Gloria’s granddaughter, who attended Monday’s party. “Send us to the book store, and we need a cart to haul them out.”

Her goal, for years, was to see the turn of the millennium. When that happened, 14 years ago, “I needed another goal. I chose 2020. I’ll only be 101!”

Her birthday was a busy day. Her sons and their wives picked up Gloria after she had bowled two of the usual three games her group does every Tuesday, for lunch out. Later, she played pinochle with the dozen or so fellow women players in North Bend, “so that concluded another wonderful day.” The real family celebration followed Saturday, with a big party at Snoqualmie’s Adventure Bowl lanes.

“The great-grandchildren all think it’s fun to bowl with G.G. (great-grandma),” McNeely said. “And it is a real treat for me.”   Then it’s back to her house for ice cream and cake—“the one from the city celebration that had my photo as a 16-year-old somehow replicated on it,” McNeely said. “This birthday month is unbelievable.”

Go, Gloria!

 

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