Few people explored the history of the Puyallup Valley as thoroughly as Lori Price, whose articles about the community’s dynamic past were published by The Puyallup Herald for more than three decades.
Her stories were a bridge to countless yesteryears. Readers — including this writer — thrilled in crossing that bridge with her as their gentle guide.
“I grew up in an age where a man’s (or woman’s) word was his bond, where a handshake was as good as a written contract…” she once wrote.
Loretta (Lori) Price introduced us to people from banking, business, farming and other walks of life — historical pioneers all — for whom many Puyallup streets and schools are named today. She portrayed the past as a pretty good place and time. She reminded us that the past is the backdrop for the stage on which the present takes a bow. With her elegant storytelling, Lori focused a warm light of renewed vibrancy on figures and places of long ago. If not for her, their significance to our community might be lost to the ages. She cared too deeply to let them be forgotten, and for that we can be eternally grateful.
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I had the privilege of serving as editor of The Herald for a while and meeting Lori several times. I would often go to a place she had written about to see how the location looked today in comparison to the black and white photograph that accompanied her article. This was my attempt to blend past and present, perhaps, and travel across time through my imagination.
Born in Kentucky, Lori spent most of her adult years in Puyallup. “I have found … that rain is necessary to my peace of mind, which indicates to me that I have finally, after 27 years, entered the ranks of the ‘natives’ of the Pacific Northwest,” she penned in 1986.
Her achievements included serving as president of the Ezra Meeker Historical Society (now the Puyallup Historical Society); being named City of Puyallup Historian by the City Council in 1986; and co-authoring with Ruth Anderson, “Puyallup: A Pioneer Paradise,” a definitive account of the Valley’s early days that has been reprinted several times. She was also a wife, a mother and a friend to many.
Lori died in January 2007 at age 82.
“An icon of the community, Ms. Price believed that history tells us about the current world in which we live, and that our search for meaning through historical records gives us a wiser understanding of who we are and what we are capable of achieving,” a Puyallup Herald editorial stated shortly after her passing. “We will miss her.”
We do indeed.
Lori’s writings and research were donated to, and are preserved for future generations by, the Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion at 312 Spring St. The Mansion is open from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. For more information, visit the mansion online at MeekerMansion.org or call 253-848-1770.
Gale B. Robinette is a member of the Puyallup Historical Society Board of Directors.