"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Werner Janssen writes about the intriguing life of Harriet Bullitt

By on October 25, 2020 in Arts with 0 Comments

By Werner Janssen

When I retired as manager of Holden Village after 20 years of being involved in the development of the facility and community, our family moved to Leavenworth, which had become an unofficial next-step community for numerous individuals and families leaving Holden after serving as employees or volunteers. 

As a result of Holden contacts, I was invited to meet with Harriet Bullitt in 1993 to discuss the possibility of joining Harriet — who was the new owner of what was known as Camp Field — and Reed Carlson, a former Holden volunteer, as a member of the Sleeping Lady Mountain Retreat Development and Construction team. This began a 10-year association with Harriet as an employee. 

Werner Janssen was the general manager of Sleeping Lady Mountain Retreat when he began to see the need for a book about Harriet Bullitt.

Working with Harriet is a community or almost family experience rather than a job. 

It is an opportunity for many conversations that have nothing to do with the project or job performance. It had more to do with enjoying conversations over a meal or enjoying a glass of wine. 

Conversations are a good time for ideas to develop and flow as stories are shared about the challenges of life. 

It was during these conversations that I became intrigued with the interesting life Harriet had lived and the challenges she had experienced working through her education. 

The more I worked with Harriet the more I wondered why her life story had not be documented. 

After I retired as general manger of Sleeping Lady Mountain Retreat in 2003, I approached Harriet about writing a book about her life. She graciously agreed. 

Harriet grew up in the exclusive Seattle Highlands where her grandparents lived alongside William Boeing, founder of The Boeing Company, the Nordstrom family, Harriet’s grandparents, the Stimson family of lumber fame and fortune as well as Harriet’s mother, who developed the KING Broadcasting company. 

Her initial school was in a one-room school house within the Seattle Highlands. Her initial exposure to religion was attending the small Episcopal church, the only church in the Highlands. 

Education became a challenge for Harriet while attending several private schools in the East. She began her university schooling at the University of Washington. 

Her interest was science and engineering but because she was the only girl in the School of Engineering, she was banned from using the library because “she was a distraction to the boys” who were all involved with ROTC and bound for military service. 

Young women during the years Harriet was in school found it difficult to break in to areas normally considered for men.

It is ironic that Harriet’s father was a Democratic organizer in the days when the Democratic Party in Washington State was almost non-existent. Her father Scott, to a great extent, created the Democratic party in the state. 

Breakfast conversation at home growing up discussed the need to provide more opportunities for women in school and the workplace and keep children out of the mines. 

After her father’s death when she was only seven, her mother, Dorothy was asked by the governor to serve on some of the state committees dealing with labor disputes. 

Harriet’s mother was the only woman on the committee and those who were involved with the labor disputes threatened to kidnap Harriet, her brother and sister unless the committee was disbanded. Their home was outfitted with bars on the windows and a night watchman to protect the children. 

Harriet didn’t finish her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington until she was 40 years old. Her degree was in Zoology and because of her love of nature she initiated the publication of the magazine, Pacific Search, and operated the publication for 23 years. 

The publication was unique in many ways but also became a launching point for some famous people such as Gary Larson of the Far Side fame as well as artists such as Art Wolfe and Tony Angell. 

Because of her concern for her employees, many who were volunteers, she perhaps had the first workspace in Seattle that was smoke-free. When Harriet was advertising for additional help, the Seattle PI newspaper would not run her help wanted ad because she advertised her work space as smoke-free. 

Following the sale of Pacific Search and her involvement in KING Broadcasting, Harriet moved to where her heart and life was the happiest, that being to the family acreage along the Icicle Creek in Leavenworth. 

Camp Field, the Catholic Youth Organization camp, was being sold and with Harriet being the neighboring landowner, the Yakima Diocese offered the potential to Harriet. 

She considered this area along Icicle Creek and into the Icicle Canyon as her spiritual home and felt that she needed to purchase the Catholic property to protect it from any development that might desecrate the property. 

Harriet greatly admired Father Joe O’Grady, director or Camp Field and also wanted to maintain some sense of the spiritual nature and ambiance that had been created by Father Joe. The development of Sleeping Lady was the result.

I have just completed a book titled, Conversations with Harriet Bullitt – The Development of Sleeping Lady Mountain Retreat. 

It covers in more detail the life of Harriet Bullitt and the unique development of a space that shares art, music and a facility allowing for connection to the earth and fine dining. 

The book will be available in several of the locally owned bookstores as well as through the North Central Washington Library and Amazon.

By Werner Janssen

When I retired as manager of Holden Village after 20 years of being involved in the development of the facility and community, our family moved to Leavenworth, which had become an unofficial next-step community for numerous individuals and families leaving Holden after serving as employees or volunteers. 

As a result of Holden contacts, I was invited to meet with Harriet Bullitt in 1993 to discuss the possibility of joining Harriet — who was the new owner of what was known as Camp Field — and Reed Carlson, a former Holden volunteer, as a member of the Sleeping Lady Mountain Retreat Development and Construction team. This began a 10-year association with Harriet as an employee. 

Working with Harriet is a community or almost family experience rather than a job. 

It is an opportunity for many conversations that have nothing to do with the project or job performance. It had more to do with enjoying conversations over a meal or enjoying a glass of wine. 

Conversations are a good time for ideas to develop and flow as stories are shared about the challenges of life. 

It was during these conversations that I became intrigued with the interesting life Harriet had lived and the challenges she had experienced working through her education. 

The more I worked with Harriet the more I wondered why her life story had not be documented. 

After I retired as general manger of Sleeping Lady Mountain Retreat in 2003, I approached Harriet about writing a book about her life. She graciously agreed. 

Harriet grew up in the exclusive Seattle Highlands where her grandparents lived alongside William Boeing, founder of The Boeing Company, the Nordstrom family, Harriet’s grandparents, the Stimson family of lumber fame and fortune as well as Harriet’s mother, who developed the KING Broadcasting company. 

Her initial school was in a one-room school house within the Seattle Highlands. Her initial exposure to religion was attending the small Episcopal church, the only church in the Highlands. 

Education became a challenge for Harriet while attending several private schools in the East. She began her university schooling at the University of Washington. 

Her interest was science and engineering but because she was the only girl in the School of Engineering, she was banned from using the library because “she was a distraction to the boys” who were all involved with ROTC and bound for military service. 

Young women during the years Harriet was in school found it difficult to break in to areas normally considered for men.

It is ironic that Harriet’s father was a Democratic organizer in the days when the Democratic Party in Washington State was almost non-existent. Her father Scott, to a great extent, created the Democratic party in the state. 

Breakfast conversation at home growing up discussed the need to provide more opportunities for women in school and the workplace and keep children out of the mines. 

After her father’s death when she was only seven, her mother, Dorothy was asked by the governor to serve on some of the state committees dealing with labor disputes. 

Harriet’s mother was the only woman on the committee and those who were involved with the labor disputes threatened to kidnap Harriet, her brother and sister unless the committee was disbanded. Their home was outfitted with bars on the windows and a night watchman to protect the children. 

Harriet didn’t finish her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington until she was 40 years old. Her degree was in Zoology and because of her love of nature she initiated the publication of the magazine, Pacific Search, and operated the publication for 23 years. 

The publication was unique in many ways but also became a launching point for some famous people such as Gary Larson of the Far Side fame as well as artists such as Art Wolfe and Tony Angell. 

Because of her concern for her employees, many who were volunteers, she perhaps had the first workspace in Seattle that was smoke-free. When Harriet was advertising for additional help, the Seattle PI newspaper would not run her help wanted ad because she advertised her work space as smoke-free. 

Following the sale of Pacific Search and her involvement in KING Broadcasting, Harriet moved to where her heart and life was the happiest, that being to the family acreage along the Icicle Creek in Leavenworth. 

Camp Field, the Catholic Youth Organization camp, was being sold and with Harriet being the neighboring landowner, the Yakima Diocese offered the potential to Harriet. 

She considered this area along Icicle Creek and into the Icicle Canyon as her spiritual home and felt that she needed to purchase the Catholic property to protect it from any development that might desecrate the property. 

Harriet greatly admired Father Joe O’Grady, director or Camp Field and also wanted to maintain some sense of the spiritual nature and ambiance that had been created by Father Joe. The development of Sleeping Lady was the result.

I have just completed a book titled, Conversations with Harriet Bullitt – The Development of Sleeping Lady Mountain Retreat. 

It covers in more detail the life of Harriet Bullitt and the unique development of a space that shares art, music and a facility allowing for connection to the earth and fine dining. 

The book will be available in several of the locally owned bookstores as well as through the North Central Washington Library and Amazon.

Werner Janssen is a former general manager of Sleeping Lady Mountain Retreat, a former Chelan County Public Utility Commissioner and a lay pastor of Faith Lutheran in    Leavenworth. 

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