SEDRO-WOOLLEY — Local historian Noel V. Bourasaw, who penned the online Skagit River Journal, died this week at 71.
Bourasaw of Sedro-Woolley was called on by many for his knowledge about Skagit Valley’s storied past.
“He was our historian. He was an asset,” Sedro-Woolley Mayor Mike Anderson said. “The things he’d post on his website were valuable ... They told how the town grew and the feelings of the people who lived here. They gave people a sense of history.”
Cookson Beecher, who Bourasaw called one of his dearest friends, said Bourasaw was recognized last year with the Skagit County Historical Society’s Heritage Award.
Throughout Skagit County, he tracked the history of many of the oldest businesses, buildings, conflicts, characters and cemeteries.
Bourasaw, who grew up in Lyman, took great joy in seeing historic markers preserved.
He was particularly excited to see Lyman officials make the Minkler Mansion into Town Hall, and more recently to see the Woolley Market hit its one-year milestone in July.
“When I was in high school there were five grocery/markets downtown in Sedro-Woolley or within a block. For the last decade there have been none,” Bourasaw wrote.
In 1948, when Bourasaw was 4, his family moved to Skagit County from Missouri, according to the Skagit River Journal.
Deanna Ammons of Clear Lake, who is also a historian, described Bourasaw as “eccentric, quirky, brilliant, irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind.”
Ammons and Bourasaw went to school together in Sedro-Woolley and later shared research material, Beecher said.
Beecher and Bourasaw worked together at The Skagit River Post, which is now called The Courier-Times.
Over the years, Bourasaw became a trusted source of historical information. He is referenced by several area museums, historical societies and city governments.
He also had a way of sparking enthusiasm about Skagit Valley’s history.
Dan Royal, historian of the Skagit County Pioneer Association, said it was Bourasaw’s knowledge and enthusiasm about life in the county’s pioneering times that led him to realize the importance of his extended family, which settled in Birdsview in 1882.
After five years of battling cancer, Bourasaw died Tuesday.
Beecher said there were many damp eyes in town the day after his death.
“He had many friends,” she said. “He found just about everyone absolutely fascinating and loved hearing their stories. His enthusiasm for life made him stand out in a crowd.”