Love is how you stay alive even after you are gone.


I’ve been a member of the Orcas Island Historical Museum for a few years now. I joined after spending a weekend circumnavigating the Island by car to visit resort properties and locations owned or managed by members of my family in days gone by, as well as spending time perusing the museum archive files doing personal research.

Last year, I donated money to purchase a commemorative a brick for the walkway of the Orcas Island Historical Museum in Eastsound – Orcas Island, Washington. An act of love and personal tribute to my maternal grandparents and a dream they shared years before I was born. Leif Henry and Ruth Odell Erickson relocated with their four children, the eldest being my mother, from Bellingham to Orcas Island, owning and operating Waldheim Resort in Eastsound in the 1940s.

I had no idea where the brick was installed. As it turned out, their commemorative brick was part of the latest installation, which I literally stepped over following the path from the sidewalk to the entrance of the museum to inquire about it’s placement.

Although this engraved brick is a special tribute to my beloved grandparents, it brings a flood of memories of my summertime visits to the San Islands – vacations and reunions during the 50s and 60s with our extended family who still lived on Orcas. Several generations – great grandparents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins beach combing for shells and driftwood, building bonfires, clamming, crowded together is cozy cabins, cooking meals together, cracking jokes, laughing, playing cards, reading books, boating, swimming, horseback riding along the lake…. Recollections that spring to life as if only last summer, reminding me how much I still love those who are gone, but remain so deeply rooted in my heart and fondest memories.


Love is how you stay alive even after you are gone.

Waldheim Resort

My maternal grandparents Leif Henry and Ruth Odell Erickson owned and operated the Waldheim Resort on Orcas Island, Washington in the 1940’s.

Waldheim, which means “forest home” in German opened on the hill overlooking East Sound Bay and Eastsound Village. Started by Frank and Mia Opperman, Waldheim eventually grew to 22 buildings, including a dining room that seated 75. The teachers at the Eastsound schools boarded there for many years, and Mrs. Opperman’s chicken dinners were popular with island residents. All the guest cottages had fireplaces and for many years, Mr. Opperman cut and delivered kindling wood to each cottage every morning. Guest could play croquet, tennis, or ping-pong a the resort. The village at Eastsound was close for shopping or beach excursions. Images of America – Orcas Island. The Orcas Island Historical Society and Museum. Published by Arcadia Publishing, 2006.

I came by Images of America – Orcas Island and this rare Waldheim brochure through the online research of my husband and daughter. Such gifts! Either this winter or this coming spring, I plan to return to Orcas to retrace my steps as a child who enjoyed  summer vacations on the island with family and revisit the Waldheim property. Some of the original cabins remain, but the resort is long gone… a story about my grandparents and family, Waldheim and Orcas Island I look forward to telling you after my return.

Waldheim Brochure - FrontWaldheim Brochure - Back