A `lesson' in community involvement
October 2, 2008 · Updated 2:19 PM
Many students in the Snoqualmie Valley School District have had Dick or Kris Kirby
as their teacher. In fact, several generations of local families have
attended their classes.
Between them, the Kirbys have taught here for 51 years
she for 17, he for 34. And the Valley residents who have not
taken their classes know and appreciate the couple for their
community involvement and their passion for antiques.
"I see that they've made a big contribution to the
Snoqualmie community, in a positive way," said Rick Krona, vice
president of the Snoqualmie Valley School District board. Krona was
in Dick's seventh-grade science class in 1967, where he
"They have dedicated their lives to our school system,
and both of them at different levels have offered different skills
and opportunities for our kids," Krona said. "And both are
well-respected by their peers."
The Kirbys' roots to the Valley run deep. Kris is a Valley
native whose Norwegian family came to the Carnation area
two generations before her.
After spending his first 12 years of life in Nebraska, Dick
and his family also moved to Carnation. The two were friends in
the same graduating class at Tolt High School, in Carnation,
formerly known as Tolt, but married years later without ever having
dated in school.
As a young couple, Dick taught school on weekdays
and spent weekends and summers working for the Forest Service
in fire prevention, while Kris stayed home to raise their children.
It didn't matter that the couple wasn't wealthy; they were rich
"It was worth it," Kris said. "We've got great kids we
After their children were raised, Kris went to work for
the Snoqualmie Valley School District and has been there ever since.
She has taught fifth-graders, middle-school students, and this year
she teaches first-graders at Sno-qualmie Elementary.
Dick taught at Snoqualmie Middle School for 24 years,
and has been at Chief Kanim for 10. He continued to work for the
Forest Service until a few years ago.
Throughout the years, Dick has coached
middle-school sports, including eighth-grade boys' junior-varsity
basketball and eighth-grade girls' varsity basketball. He currently coaches
volleyball and baseball.
Besides their jobs, which can easily fill up a week, the
Kirbys make a point to be involved in the community. Dick is in
his fourth year as a Snoqualmie City Council member, is the chair
of the council's Planning and Parks Committee, and is the liaison
between the council and the Planning Commission.
"He's the calming voice. He brings a sense of balance to
the council," Snoqualmie Mayor Fuzzy Fletcher said. Dick is
also on the flood task force for Snoqualmie and is a board
member for the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Society.
"In everyone's life, a time comes for them to volunteer
for something, and this is Dick's time," Fletcher added. "He's
always been very civic-minded and community-oriented, and
he's just trying to make the community he lives in better."
Kris also performs her share of community service. She's
currently on the Snoqualmie Valley Library Board, in which she
has participated for a decade, and holds a spot on the
Snoqualmie Valley Historical Society Board, of which she is co-president
this year with Susan Sherman.
In past years, Kris was involved with the Snoqualmie
Education Association; the local education union. The
accomplishment she feels most proud of with the association is helping to
negotiate the concept of shared decision making between
teachers, the school board and school administration.
And if all their community work wasn't enough, the
Kirbys spend additional time on their business, called The
Farmer's Daughter Antiques. They have a display case and booth set up
in Gilman Village in Issaquah for the business, and they go to four
antique shows each year to sell their wares, which Dick calls
"primitive country antiques."
The Kirbys also have a passion for antiques at home.
Their Snoqualmie residence is full of Norwegian country pieces,
including spinning wheels, hand-painted grandfather clocks
and unique and sturdy wood cupboards.
Aside from their antique collecting, school and
community work, what many don't know is their sense of family and
the people it encompasses. For the Kirbys, family has a
broader meaning than the traditional 2.5 children and a few in-laws.
"A family is someone who you care for that's just the
way it is," Kris said.
The couple's family is made up of daughter Kristen, 25,
son Jeremy, 22, foster child Michael, 40, and his two daughters,
Dick's daughter, Elisa, and an assortment of parents and
extended family. The Kirbys are also co-guardians for a deceased
friend's three developmentally challenged adult children, and
consider them part of the family, as well. The couple feels that
spending time with family is important.
"We feel blessed because we have our parents nearby and
want to be a part of their lives, and our children nearby so we can be
a part of their lives, too," Kris said. "We just feel lucky, really lucky."
Valley Portraits is a monthly feature that takes a look at
people who contribute to the community. To suggest someone for an
article, call Michelle Gisi at (425) 888-2311 or e-mail