Rowena Lung Alcorn (1905-1996) and Gordon Dee Alcorn (1907-1994) were collaborative authors, writing articles on Northwest history, Native Americans, biology and other topics (1). Their separate careers were in the visual arts and biological sciences.
Born in Tacoma in 1905, Rowena Alcorn began drawing while young, sketching Native Americans at age 7 as her family camped at Browns Point (1). By age 20, she had joined her sister in Santa Barbara, California, to study art (2). At the time of their marriage, Gordon was a biology professor at the University of Idaho in Boise and it was there she began painting portraits of the Nez Perce people (2). After they returned to Tacoma, she taught art at The University of Puget Sound, Grays Harbor College, and Pierce College (1). A portrait of Henry Sicade, Puyallup tribal leader, was commissioned by the Tacoma Public Library, where it hangs as of this writing in 2023 (3). A concurrent interest in writing led to her founding the Tacoma branch of the National League of American Pen Women in 1956 (2). She died in Tacoma May 3, 1996 at age 91.
Gordon Alcorn was born in Olympia in 1907 and graduated from Lincoln High School in Tacoma in 1926 (4). He received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Puget Sound and his doctorate from the University of Washington (4). He began teaching full-time at UPS in 1946 and was named chairman of the biology department in 1951 (4). He helped found the Slater Museum of Natural History there and was its director for 20 years (4). The campus of the University of Puget Sound was named the Gordon Dee Alcorn Arboretum in 1976 (4). An environmental activist, he was instrumental in preserving Nisqually Delta as a wildlife refuge, as well as Swan Creek in Pierce County and three Grays Harbor County islands (5). He died age 86 in Tacoma on March 25,1994 (4).
The Alcorns together wrote over 100 articles (1). Seamen’s Rest was of particular interest as Rowena Alcorn’s mother, Velma Lung, was a neighbor and personal friend of the founding Funnemark family (6). Mrs. Brigitte Funnemark and her daughter Christine Funnemark maintained the mission which ministered to the material and spiritual needs of sailors (6). Christine Funnemark went on to be a founder of the Tacoma Rescue Mission (6).