By Paige Norman
The Magnusons are members of one of the earliest pioneer families in Redmond. Gene’s grandmother, Edith Isackson Magnuson was the oldest daughter of Redmond/Happy Valley pioneers Anna and Charles Isackson. Charles Isackson arrived from Sweden with two of his brothers in the 1890s hoping to strike it rich in the gold rush. Settling in the Happy Valley, they lived at first with their sister, Johanna Isackson Bengston in a log cabin that is still standing today.
Charles’ wife, Anna, and oldest daughter, Edith, came to the United States from Sweden to join Charles and settle in the Happy Valley. Edith, the oldest of Charles and Anna’s children, married George Magnuson. George and Edith’s son Albert was Gene’s father. Gene’s maternal grandmother was Hedvig (Kjallin) Hosea. Hedvig’s family moved from Wisconsin to Preston, then landed in the Redmond area around 1911, living on the Old Redmond Brick Road. Merilee Rush, granddaughter of George and Edith, still lives on the Happy Valley farm once owned by her grandparents.
Gene has served on the RHS board as Vice President of Collections, setting up displays in the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center, Redmond Library, and Premium Wine & Spirits. He also set up booths for Redmond Historical Society at community events, including the Redmond Saturday Market. Gene grew up fishing in local lakes and creeks and can still be found fishing in Lake Sammamish, when he’s not tending to his garden or reading up on local and state history. Gene’s memories of Redmond include selling golf balls from the golf course and going into stores where you knew everyone, and they knew you. Gene attended Lake Washington High School and graduated in 1964.
Cheryl Strong Magnuson was raised in Sultan, moving to Redmond when she was 14, after the Evergreen Point Bridge opened, so her father had an easier commute to work. One of her favorite memories of growing up in Redmond is playing the clarinet in band at Redmond High School. She attended Redmond High School the first year it opened and graduated in 1967. She notes that although Redmond is no longer a small town, she often runs into folks she knows. She and Gene married in 1968.
Cheryl volunteers in a multitude of organizations, including keeping the Society’s Facebook page updated with photos of historical and current buildings. Currently she’s taking monthly photos of the new Redmond Senior Center site for the Encore magazine and posts a variety of photos on the Society’s Facebook page showcasing current and historical aspects of Redmond. She is also the administrator for the Happy Valley Grange Facebook page.
Cheryl has curated a number of exhibits at the Redmond Library, using items from their personal collection of historical and genealogical resources. Cheryl worked in Redmond for over 30 years and has been involved in many musical endeavors, including Eastside Symphony, Redmond Senior Chorus, Happy Wanderers, and The Golden Oldies. She continues to be active in these groups, though the Covid pandemic has changed the way they meet and contribute to the community.
Cheryl has spent a number of years interviewing both Gene’s and her family; writing down life stories from parents, grandparents, in-laws, and friends and memorializing them for future generations.
Gene and Cheryl heard about the Redmond Historical Society from a newspaper article. After attending a meeting in the log cabin at Anderson Park, they joined as charter members, fitting as Gene’s parents were among the early settlers in Redmond and Cheryl’s parents were members of the Sky Valley Historical Society. Gene and Cheryl were Redmond Historical Society’s first Family Lifetime members, cementing their history with Redmond as well as Redmond Historical Society.