Before businesses and homes filled up the Kent Valley, Leonard Levack remembers bird hunting with his brothers in the 1930s and ’40s.
“Ducks and pheasants were plentiful then,” Levack said during an interview at the Kent Historical Museum. “My brother one season got 250 ducks in the valley here. My mom cooked them for dinner. We put them in cold storage and had duck in the winter and spring.”
Levack, along with four of his brothers and two sisters, will be honored at the 21st annual Kent Old Timers Greater Kent Community Reunion Aug. 15 because of the family’s long history in the Kent area. The free event is open to the public.
At 81, Leonard, of Des Moines, is the youngest of the sons and daughters of Edward and Carolyn Levack. Brothers Bob, 88; Ted, 87; Roy, 83; and sisters Logia Hardin, 93 and Billie Holt, 90, will join Leonard at the event. Eddie, the oldest brother, and Hilda Johnson, the oldest, sister have died.
Bob and Ray live in Kent, Ted in Normandy Park and Roy in Renton. Logia lives in Burlington and Billie in Enumclaw.
“I’d like to say it’s good, clean living,” Leonard said about the key to the Levack’s long lives. “Longevity is in the family. Our genes are wired that way.”
All of the Levack brothers graduated from Kent High School, with Leonard a 1947 graduate. Their father, Edward worked as a milk truck driver to support his large family. He lived to be 82. Their mother, Carolyn Levack, lived to be 94.
John Mergens, chairman of the Kent Old Timers Greater Kent Community Reunion, said one of the Levack brothers had been brought up last year as a nominee by the selection committee.
“We thought about it and figured we couldn’t honor just one brother and then they were brought up again this year,” Mergens said.
Kathleen Levack, the wife of Leonard for 56 years, will introduce the brothers and sisters at the reunion in a 2 p.m. presentation. She told Mergens about the two sisters so they could be added to the program along with their brothers.
“It’s history and the people who made Kent what it is today,” Mergens said about the honorees over the last 20 years. “They were merchants or had farms and most went to Kent schools.”
They also have to be at least 80 years old.
Leonard Levack looks forward to being honored.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “I didn’t know we had an impact in the community but living here most of our lives we have.”
Leonard Levack, who was born in Auburn, started work at age 12 making hay in the Kent Valley. He was paid 50 cents per hour.
“It was like pennies from heaven,” he said.
He later worked at Libby’s Cannery and Kent Cold Storage, two businesses long gone.
“Libby’s is gone, there was a furniture store that I can’t think of the name of that’s gone and the White Spot Tavern is gone,” he said. “And there were a lot of dairy and produce farms.”
Despite the changes, Levack still enjoys the Kent Valley.
“With progress, overall I think we are better off,” he said. “I hate that old things disappear, but that’s the way it goes.”
Leonard Levack worked 34 years as a Boeing buyer before he retired in 1991. Brother Roy also worked at Boeing; Ray spent 58 years in the feed business with stores in Kent and Auburn; Ted worked as a milkman for the Smith Brothers Dairy in Kent; and Bob worked at a paper plant in Seattle.
With five children and six grandchildren of his own, Leonard Levack expects as many as 30 relatives to turn out for the Kent reunion.
“We’ve alerted all of them,” he said. “But I will have to call (brother) Bob to make sure he is up.”
Many of the Levack relatives gather once a month for breakfast at a Denny’s in Federal Way. Leonard, Ted, Roy, Ray and their spouses also gather each Sunday at one of their homes.
“We have Sunday dinner and play cards until midnight,” Leonard Levack said.
• Other honorees: The other honorees at the reunion include Anna (Schuurman) Mulder, who grew up in Kent and helped her husband Nicholas Mulder raise Holstein dairy cows on the East Hill; and Elinor (Johnson) Osness, who grew up on Taylor Road (now South 228th Street), married Ralph Johnson and worked at the Kent Post Office.
WHAT: Kent Old Timers 21st annual reunion
WHEN: 1-4 p.m. Aug. 15
WHERE: Kent Senior Activity Center, 600 E. Smith St.