Joe Lewis, a resident of Arrowhead in unincorporated Pierce County, has been awarded the R. Lorraine Wojahn Award for outstanding volunteer service advancing the work of the Washington State Historical Society by the Washington State Historical Society Board of Trustees.
The honor was presented on June 21 at the State Museum’s annual meeting.
Paraphrasing King Henry VIII, Joe said, making a few comments after accepting the award, he promised that he “wouldn’t keep us long.”
Joe has been an information desk volunteer at the Washington State History Museum since 2002. This past year, he volunteered 197 hours. The museum’s 89 other volunteers contributed an average of 71.33 hours during that same time.
According to Joe, the museum has around 100 volunteers who are available Tues.-Sun. to assist with visitors’ questions. This past spring the museum hosted about 16,000 school students in tours during April-June. That’s a 14 percent increase over last year, said Jane Archer, Volunteer Coordinator at the State Museum.
A strong mentor for other volunteers, Joe is very knowledgeable about the building and the exhibits, and he goes out of his way to make sure that visitors have the information they need.
This museum is a portal into the past which provides a sense of perspective on the present. Our job as volunteers is to share our enthusiasm for history with our visitors and help them to enter that portal.
When not welcoming visitors, the retired Air Force colonel tends to his koi pond and also is the secretary of the Historic Fort Steilacoom Association.
Joe revels in the time he spends at the museum. “I thank you for this award,” he said, “as I continue to live my life in the past lane.”