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History's Window: Gregory LeGrand Steen

by BOB GUNTER Contributing Writer
| April 28, 2021 1:00 AM

Editor’s note: Longtime historian Bob Gunter spent his life diving into history, capturing the people and places of the community, highlighting what made it special. Bob’s tales would take the reader on a journey of someone in the community, sharing their life, their stories and celebrate what make each person unique. “Tell me a story,” he would ask the person - or two, or three, or as many as he could coax out of them.

Below is one such tale, where Bob would offer tantalizing clues and challenge his reader to guess “Who Am I?” Below are the stories he wrote about Gregory Steen, which originally ran in mid May 2006.

Part 1

I was born on October 5, 1947 in Spokane, Washington, at the old St. Luke’s hospital. My dad’s name was Warren, and my mother’s name is Ruth. I have one brother and two sisters. Before coming to Bonner County, my family lived in the Spokane Valley; then we moved to Cheney, and back to Spokane Valley.

The things I remember about my pre-school days were the long, hot, summers in Cheney. I remember laying in the grass watching giant B-36 bombers flying over, and landing at Fairchild. Almost every weekend during the summer, my family would come to Glengary Bay. I recall that we would stay in a tent.

I went to elementary school at the Campus School in Cheney. Eastern Washington University used to be called a Normal School. It was a training school for teachers. In the fifties, the Campus School was where the people came to learn how to be teachers, using real kids. I finished elementary school in 1960.

I went to Betz Junior High school in Cheney, and I played organized basketball for the first time. When I got home I had chores to do. I did dishes, and I was in charge of bringing in wood and splitting it. I also had to do my homework. I went to Betz for two years and graduated in 1962.

I went to Central Valley High School, out in the Spokane Valley. At Central, I played basketball, was on the track team, and I liked auto shop. I went to a few of the school dances, and I liked the girls, but I was too scared to talk to them. I had a teacher in auto shop that meant a lot to me. He was a philosopher and he had been a B-26 pilot during WWII. He was the person that got me interested in history.

My grandparents owned a print shop, and I worked for them in the summer. I was what they called a Printer’s Devil. I worked with type, cut paper, and I did everything else that no one else wanted to do. I worked there from the time I was in the sixth grade through my sophomore year in high school. At that time, my grandparents retired, and I ran the shop by myself.

I graduated from high school in 1966, and two weeks later I joined the army. I took my basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. After discharge, I moved to Los Angeles for a while, but it was too crowded for me. I came back to Bonner County and went to work at the Daily Bee, as a printer. At that time, the paper was printed at the Bee. I worked there for five years.

I went back to Spokane and started a print shop and I ran that for 11 years before we moved back to Glengary, in 1986.

I met my wife in Spokane. We were married on 7 August, 1970, and we have three children. My hobbies are woodworking, history, and I really like playing with our grandkids. We have two, and a third one on the way.

Part 2

My name is Gregory LeGrand Steen. I was born on October 5, 1947 in Spokane, Washington. Before coming to Bonner County, my immediate family lived in the Spokane Valley; then we moved to Cheney, and back to Spokane Valley. My dad’s name was Warren, and my mother’s name is Ruth Wooliscroft. I have a brother named David, and two sisters, Colleen and Kathleen.

My dad worked for Eastern Washington University in Cheney, and the main thing I remember about my pre-school days were the long, hot, summers in Cheney. I don’t remember their names, but I played with all the neighborhood kids. Almost every weekend during the summer, my family would come up to Glengary Bay. I recall that we would stay in a tent. My mother and father had purchased the land from my grandfather. Living in Cheney was confining to me. As a kid, I needed a lot of room to throw rocks, bat balls, run, and ride my bike. I didn’t enjoy living there, and I liked it when I could go to Glengary, where I had lots of room.

I went to elementary school at the Campus School in Cheney. It was located at the Eastern Washington University, and it was used as a training school for teachers. When I was in elementary school, I liked playing softball. One of my teachers, that I remember, was an art teacher. She really bugged me. She thought I could draw, and she kept me after school to learn art, and I hated it. I finished elementary school in 1960.

I went to Betz Junior High school in Cheney. I remember I had to go to class early to try and figure out algebra. I had a lot of friends, but none I ran around with constantly. When I got home I had chores to do, and I had to do my homework. I went to Betz for two years and graduated in 1962.

I went to Central Valley High School, out in the Spokane Valley. At Central, I played basketball, and I was on the track team. I guess auto shop was my favorite subject, and the shop teacher meant a lot to me. His name was Charlie Packard, and he was the person that got me interested in history. I didn’t belong to any organizations while I was at Central. I went to a few of the school dances, and I liked the girls, but I was too scared to talk to them. I was a very average student.

I worked while I was in high school. My grandparents owned a print shop, and I worked for them in the summer. I was what they called a printer’s devil. I worked with type, cut paper, and I did everything else that no one else wanted to do. The shop was called, Steen Printing. I worked there from the time I was in the sixth grade through my sophomore year in high school. At that time, my grandparents retired, and I ran the shop by myself. I would do my printing work after school, and during the summers.

I graduated from high school in 1966, and two weeks later I joined the Army. I had three years of active duty, and three years in the reserves. I took my basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. I left there and went to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. I was there 11 months, going to school. I was in the infantry, and was trained for the signal corps. I was sent to the Canal Zone, and stayed there for 18 months. I then went to Fort Lewis, and while there, I was in a riot squad. I was discharged from active duty in June of 1969.

I moved to Los Angeles for a while, but it was too crowded for me. I came back to Bonner County and went to work at the Daily Bee, as a printer. At that time, the paper was printed there at the Bee. I worked there for five years.

I went back to Spokane and started a print shop there. I ran that for 11 years before we moved back to Glengary, in 1986. Today, I have my print shop next to my house.

I met Donna Perdue in Spokane. We were married on 7 August, 1970. Donna and I have three children. Eric lives in Germany, Kristy lives in Washington, and Matthew lives in Spokane. We have two grandkids, and a third one on the way.

photo

Gregory Steen as pictured in May 2006.