Saturday, December 09, 2023

MY TURN: Our local jewel within our gem of a state

by KELLY CONNAWAY/Guest opinion
| April 27, 2023 1:00 AM

As I returned to Coeur d’Alene in August 2018 to retire, I realized that my life was taking a new turn. One year later a friend asked me, “How do you like retirement?” I pondered briefly, responding, “it is weird … good weird, yet a little weird.”

Now, four years later, I still chuckle at having that interchange. For me, retirement was a new world. One that can only be known by experience. That experience is ongoing for me here in 2023.

I realized I needed to create replacements for the loss of the structure provided by having a career. I have done a few things to create that goal. One is volunteering at the Museum of North Idaho. It was and continues to be a great choice.

Four years ago, I became a greeter and cashier for the six-hour shift every Saturday from April through October. This shift gave a nice weekly structure to my life. The museum, which is on Northwest Boulevard on the eastern border of City Park, is open seven months of the year. I enjoy this time greeting locals and those from around our country. We even get international folks.

Two years ago, a local woman returned to Coeur d'Alene to become our museum’s new executive director. Britt Thurman grew up in Coeur d'Alene and spent years traveling around the USA pursuing her education and a career in the museum world. She has brought a great, young, new spirit to this demanding job. She has a goal of our museum becoming a regional powerhouse. Our previous executive director, Dorothy Dahlgren, provided us with the foundation to realize that dream.

The museum acquired a new home to begin this next phase toward a brand new museum at a new location. In October 2019, we moved the historic White House (built in 1902) from its downtown location at Eighth and Sherman. With great care, this tricky feat brought this large two-story building to rest on the new foundation at the base of Tubbs Hill. The White House is now located at the eastern edge of McEuen Park.

Our future home is beginning Phase I this coming week. Our goal is to open the Spring 2024 season in this new home. We still need financial assistance to complete this dream. We have an ongoing campaign to raise the necessary funds to complete Phase I and beyond to 100% completion.

One of our biggest and best events of the year is coming up Saturday, May 20. This is our second gala. The theme for last year was "The Great Gatsby" era of the 1920s. The location was the Jewett House on beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene.

This year’s gala theme is 1940s USO Club, celebrating our local men and women who served our country. It’s being held at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds in the original hangar where Gladys Buroker trained pilots for WWII. The fundraiser will have a big band, professional dancers, a classic car show, WWII military vehicle display, and a variety show with The Andrews Sisters. I get the pleasure of being involved as one of many volunteers who will devote many hours to making this event a stellar one.

If you want to volunteer with me or attend the event, please go to We have tickets, whole tables, sponsorships and the ability for donations which benefit our goals. We appreciate all of you in our community. We look forward to you visiting the current location Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

The Gala is just one of many events and programs we offer. We have history walking tours, field trips, changing exhibits, lectures, movies, over 38,000 digital photos (many on the website) and many others.

I truly feel like the Museum of North Idaho is a jewel in our gem state and highly encourage you all to join me in supporting it so we don’t lose North Idaho’s sense of place.

Kelly Connaway is a resident of Coeur d'Alene.

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