SinC Puget Sound

Chapter History

1989-1994: The Early Days

by Maria

It was a dark and stormy night in 1989, but Ginny Evans perked up my spirits by announcing that those interested in starting a Sisters in Crime chapter get together before the next MWA meeting to discuss plans. Alas, only two women showed.

For some mysterious reason, this went on for a whole year. Ginny kept announcing it until a few of us did get thirsty. As we gathered around a table and talked, it became obvious that this group wanted the chapter to be free-wheeling and informal. No officers and no set agenda. We were interested in reading and writing mysteries, but we would not be ORGANIZED.

Nan Robkin volunteered to do a monthly newsletter and we haphazardly each chipped in a dollar to take care of mailing—for an unspecified length of time! The newsletter began including material which could be helpful resources for writing, ranging from cooking to archaeology to finding an agent and much more.

By1991, we were still a raggedy group, but we upped the ante to ten dollars a year per member and found a permanent home at the Killing Time Mystery Bookstore due to the largess of the owners, Miriam Uhlig and Sue Nevins. We were still officer-free and agenda-less which chafed those who like more structure. In reaction, one energetic person tried to “do it all,” but when she realized this was a mutinous bunch, she suggested it might be time to dissolve the chapter. Well! There is nothing like a perceived threat to bring a group together and—we got ORGANIZED! We soon learned each local member had to be a national member and we had to have by-laws, etc.

Still balky, we elected two co-presidents instead of one, one instead of two individuals serving as secretary-treasurer, and a membership chair. We had by-laws and went gone so far as to have each member responsible for a program. Plus we added an annual rite, an outing at Joan Metheny’s home on Whidbey Island.

ca. 2006
With the resignation of early member Carol Thiel, Susan Schreyer and Joe Massucco stepped up to become co-presidents. Nan Robkin continued as secretary/treasurer.

During this period the chapter met in the Stadler Room, Third Place Commons, in Lake Forest Park. The room was small, but parking was plentiful and free. . . and the adjacent bakery and food court made it possible for people to gather informally for dinner or snacks beforehand. To say nothing of the advantages offered by the inspiring presence of Third Place Books. Traditions such as the summer picnic and holiday party became firmly established, and the chapter had a small, but strong, core of members.

By 2017, new members were eager to move on from the more casual approach of the past few years. As a result, the chapter held an election that led to the nomination of new officers, with Alice K. Boatwright and Marty Wingate as co-presidents, and Waverly Fitzgerald as secretary/treasurer. At this time, participation had shrunk so there were only 11 people who were paid-up members of both national and the local chapter and therefore eligible to vote.

Once the new officers were installed in January, SinC National expected the chapter to revise its very old bylaws to meet their new requirements. With the new bylaws came a new structure for the executive committee. We transitioned from two co-presidents and a secretary/treasurer to a president (filled by Alice K. Boatwright), vice-president (filled by Marty Wingate), treasurer (filled by Waverly Fitzgerald), and secretary (Sarah Niebuhr Rubin appointed). Sarah had already been serving as a volunteer webmaster, revitalizing the website.

Nan Robkin

These were busy years with the chapter endeavoring to grow its own membership as well as collaborate with national and local groups, such as the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Mystery Writers of America Northwest Chapter, and the Romance Writers Association.  We offered our usual slate of monthly programs, but also actively promoted SinC through participation in conferences, supporting SinC National’s We Love Bookstores program, and more. Grants from SinC National enabled us to bring well-known authors from their Speakers Bureau, and we worked closely with Third Place Books to feature the work of guest authors and chapter members. By this time, membership had grown to about 40 with attendance at in-person monthly meetings at about 25.

In April 2019, we celebrated Nan Robkin for her three decades of service by presenting her with a Lifetime Honorary Membership, the first for our chapter. Later that month, we held our first-ever all-day workshop, “Heroes, Villains, and Victims: The Eternal Triangle”, featuring Nancy Martin and with a panel of local authors.

In the fall of 2019, we faced the challenge of having to turn over all positions in the Executive Committee for 2020 since our by-laws limited people to two-year terms. We successfully made this transition with a new team voted in: Luanne C. Brown as President, Charlotte Stuart as Vice President/Secretary, and Curt Colbert as Treasurer. The COVID pandemic created both the new challenge of ending our in-person programs—but also presented us with the opportunity of reaching a broader Puget Sound audience through Zoom.

As the pandemic continued, we had to forgo even our annual outdoor picnic in 2021, but did gratefully meet up at the Richmond Beach Seawater Park in 2022. Monthly programs continued on Zoom, planned by the next generation of leaders: Charlotte Stuart, President; Robert Herold, Vice President; Peggy Barnet, Secretary; and Curt Colbert, Treasurer. Meetings were attended by members from the islands to the mountains, as well as the greater Seattle area. Our membership grew to almost 60 during this period.

2021 Annual Report