Rollie DeKoster compiles stories, photos about early lumber mills in Lynden area

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJanuary 19, 2014 

Rollie DeKoster

Former Lynden High coach Rollie DeKoster discusses his new book, "Lumber Mills in the Lynden Area," at the Lynden Pioneer Museum Thursday afternoon, Jan. 16, 2014.

PHILIP A. DWYER — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

LYNDEN - Rollie DeKoster is a part of history as a longtime and successful coach at Lynden High School, where the football field carries his name.

Now retired, DeKoster, 79 has made a new contribution to local history by compiling a commemorative booklet about old-time lumber mills in the Lynden area.

DeKoster culled stories and 37 black-and-white photos for the glossy, 32-page publication from various sources, including old-timers' recollections collected years ago at Lynden Senior Center.

"I'm not a writer," he said. "I'm a guy who puts things together."

The stories and photos focus on 10 mills in and near Lynden that were in business from the turn of the century to 1930, time enough for the area's forestlands to be logged off and turned into open farmland. The mills provided jobs for hundreds of workers.

"It was such a big thing, but for such a short time," DeKoster said. "I knew these men. They were my dad's friends."

A native of Lynden, DeKoster's grandparents moved to the area around 1900, part of a Dutch wave of immigrants. His father, Anthony DeKoster, worked at a Lynden mill before taking a job at Darigold's cheese plant.

DeKoster, himself, worked part-time at Darigold, cleaning milk tanker trucks while he was a student athlete at Western Washington University in the 1950s.

"My family is Darigold people," DeKoster said. "That's how I got through college. I worked nights."

DeKoster said an uncle, Cornelius DeKoster, invented a shake-splitting machine and oversaw several mills in Renton area, and said his father-in-law ran a small logging operation near Lynden in the 1950s.

DeKoster taught history and physical education at Lynden Middle School. He retired in 1989 after more than three decades in education.

As a coach, he turned Lynden High's football program from a patsy into a powerhouse, leading Lynden to 12 county league titles, eight Class A state playoff appearances, and a state championship in 1980.

Also a successful baseball and basketball coach, he is a member of the Western's Athletic Hall of Fame and the Washington State High School Coaches Hall of Fame.

AVAILABLE AT MUSEUM

"Lumber Mills in the Lynden Area," 32 pages, by Rollie DeKoster, is on sale at Lynden Pioneer Museum, 217 Front St. Price: $10.

Reach Dean Kahn at 360-715-229 or dean.kahn@bellinghamherald.com .

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