Kennewick Man and Woman of the Year: Art King, Josie Wannarachue honored

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 24, 2014 

This year's Kennewick Man and Woman of the Year are well known in the community.

If there's a cause that needs a chairman or a job that needs to be done, Art King and Josie Wannarachue's names often come up.

They were honored Monday for their decades of community service at the annual banquet presented by Soroptimist International of Pasco-Kennewick and the Kennewick Past Men of the Year Club. It was held at Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.

In the letter nominating King for the honor, Hank Sauer of Kennewick, a retired teacher and school principal, wrote, "Art King is an outstanding working volunteer. He has a passion for what he does for others and puts his heart and soul into making Kennewick and the Tri-Cities a better community.

"He was recognized by the Volunteer Center as one of their Volunteers of the Year and earned the prestigious Governor's Volunteer Service Award in 2009 for his volunteer efforts in our community."

King has been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Kennewick since 2005 and is the post chaplain for the Kennewick Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5785. King serves on the board of the Tri-City Cancer Center and has been vice president, program chairman and active in several of its programs.

King has been a member of the program committee for the Columbia Basin Badger Club since 2011 and has been on the Juvenile Justice Center Truancy Board since 2000.

Becky Keck of the Juvenile Justice Center wrote: "Art is a great asset to the program because of the experience he brings, and he does a fantastic job working with families to get kids back in school."

King was a volunteer at Tri-Cities Food Bank for more than eight years, serving the past five as the organization's unpaid executive director before retiring. While working at the food banks, King logged more than 4,000 hours, played a key role in the growth of the food banks through legislation and donations and set up information centers at the food banks with a list of organizations where people can get assistance.

King's also a member of the Mid-Columbia Reading Foundation, serving for five years on the board and is on the advisory board. He also set up book racks at the food banks so children would have access to reading materials.

He's also active in Junior Achievement, visiting elementary school classrooms. King is a volunteer for the Substance Abuse Coalition, the Ignite Youth Mentoring Program and is on the Catalyst Fundraising Team for Delta High School.

"Art King is a true Kennewick community hero," Sauer wrote.

For Wannarachue, Kennewick Woman of the Year, volunteering comes as naturally as breathing.

"Unpaid public service is the priority in considering this nomination, and Josie does that every day, in ways both large and small," wrote Wanda Briggs of Kennewick, a longtime member of the Kennewick Public Hospital District board, in her nomination letter.

"In addition to being a giver, Josie is also an investor -- a property owner both in downtown and elsewhere in Kennewick. She puts money where her heart of gold is to ensure the city stays a vibrant retail center," Briggs wrote.

Wannarachue has owned and operated two restaurants in Kennewick in recent years. She owns The House of Style on First Avenue in Kennewick.

She has been involved or served in leadership roles in the Mid-Columbia Arts Council, the March of Dimes, The ARC of the Tri-Cities, the Philippine American Association, the Lions Club, the Mid-Columbia Symphony Guild, the Washington State Mint Association, the Children's Reading Foundation, Safe Harbor Crisis, Domestic Violence Services and co-chaired May Fest for St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Kennewick.

Wannarachue, along with the late Billie Jane Lampson, raised money to build the Tri-Cities Cancer Center. She co-founded the Trio Health Foundation and supports it and the hospital with her time and money.

She's an advocate for higher education and has played host to dozens of foreign exchange students. Wannarachue also served five years on the Columbia Basin College Board of Trustees.

Former Gov. Gary Locke, now the U.S. Ambassador to China, told Briggs, that Wannarachue's accomplishments "serve as a standard the rest of us can only dream of following."

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

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