Message from my sister, Jan Crook Pierson, regarding the Sue C Boynton Poetry Awards. Sue Boynton was my grandmother, and there are many of my siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends who remember her with love and respect. In her later years she wrote poetry, and put together a book for family and friends. Later, an amazing group came together to honor her by creating an annual poetry contest. This has grown exponentially.
Last night in Bellingham at the Sue C. Boynton Awards Ceremony, professor (WWU in Bellingham, Washington) George F. Drake (nearing 90) spoke and gave a $10,000 check to the foundation. This is a marvelous event that gives aspiring poets a chance. I have been honored to have been able to speak on behalf of our grandma Sue for 14 years. I pray our family will continue to be a part of this amazing endeavor. Grandma lectured in his sociology class and got standing ovations again and again. He adored her and called her Mother Sue. They both gave each other so much in the last few years of her life while she lived in the nursing home.
He has never forgotten her. Obviously.
Thank you who have donated every year to keep this going and to keep the Boynton family and poetry alive in Bellingham and Whatcom County. There were probably close to 200 people there last night! If you visit Bellingham, be sure to visit the Boynton Poetry Walk at the Bellingham Public Library. It’s a lovely garden walk which includes grandma Sue’s life story and those who contribute Plus the winning poems each year. Next year I hope some of the family can join me!
2019 Contest Winners
The Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest has numerous reasons to be grateful to George F. Drake. Here are two:
- In 1976, as a member of the Bellingham City Council, George organized a ceremony to honor those who served in elective office. A highlight of the event, held at Western Washington University, was the presence of Sue C. Boynton, then 95. George escorted her to the podium where she read a poem of her own followed by a message sent for the occasion by President Gerald Ford. In 2005, George approached Sue Boynton’s daughter, Ethel Boynton Crook, to propose naming a community poetry contest to honor Sue C. Boynton. The first Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest and Poetry Walk was held in 2006 with the enthusiastic support of the extended Boynton family.
- A stalwart champion of the Contest through the intervening years, George Drake took the podium at the May 16, 2019, awards ceremony, where he presented the above photo of himself with Sue C. Boynton taken by Tore Ofteness at that 1976 event. He then presented the contest committee with an exceedingly generous surprise: a check for $10,000 to express his belief in the importance of this community poetry contest and to assure its continuation in the years to come.
Beyond the evening’s raucous and prolonged applause, the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest and all the past, present, and future poets of Whatcom County, and their fans, owe George Drake a huge THANK YOU.