“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Gig Harbor in Pierce County, Washington — The American West (Northwest)

Judge H.R. (Dick) Thurston

Judge H.R. (Dick) Thurston Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By William Fischer, Jr., August 3, 2021
1. Judge H.R. (Dick) Thurston Marker

Harry Richard Thurston was born October 10, 1889, in Minnesota. He moved to Gig Harbor in 1919 from Tacoma. Thurston had been an electrical contractor in Minnesota. In Gig Harbor, he sold and serviced portable light plants, set up switchboards, and wired ferry and fishing boats built in the harbor. He and Asta, an emigrant from Sweden living in Poulsbo, married in 1919.

Thurston was elected justice of the peace to Post #2 in 1934. When Gig Harbor incorporated in 1946, he was selected by the town's first mayor, Dr. Harold Ryan, as the first municipal judge, a post Thurston held until retirement. Court and early council meetings were held in Thurston's electric shop on today's Harborview Drive. For many years the shop provided a venue for the town court.

During his years on the bench, Thurston was selected as an Outstanding Justice of the Peace in Washington. Governor Langley commissioned Thurston to revise two chapters of the Code Book for the Justice of the Peace. Thurston helped organize the Magistrates Association and as a charter member of the organization, was entitled to be called "judge" for life.

Judge H.R. (Dick) Thurston Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By William Fischer, Jr., August 3, 2021
2. Judge H.R. (Dick) Thurston Marker
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was a highly qualified electrician and established the Pioneer Electric Company in about 1920. It is said the judge revolutionized the fishing trade in the 1920s by installing the first 32-volt electrical system in a boat. He was the first to electrify part of the west side of Gig Harbor by setting up a 32-volt generator, bringing light to the Peninsula Hotel and the Novak Building in the 1920s.

Judge and Mrs. Thurston donated the property for the first city water well, located near this spot. Today, the well is capped and buried beneath the north side of the building. The well served the city from 1949 until 1988.

Judge Thurston retired in January 1967 and moved to his home, "The Wee Hus on the Doones" in Grayland, Washington. He passed away April 12, 1970.

On the evening of March 28, 1977, the first official council meeting was held at 3105 Judson Street and the building was officially proclaimed as the Gig Harbor Town Hall. On April 11, 1977, the council formally dedicated the new building to the memory of Judge H. R. Thurston.

[Photo captions, top and bottom, read]
• Judge H. R. Thurston beside Gig Harbor's first patrol car, June 1948

• Asta Thurston and grandson, David Wenning, at Gig Harbor's first well located near Thurston Lane and Judson Street. Judge Thurston donated the property to the city in 1947 or 1948.
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City of Gig Harbor and Gig Harbor Peninsula Historical Society.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Charity & Public WorkIndustry & CommerceLaw EnforcementWaterways & Vessels. A significant historical date for this entry is October 10, 1889.
Location. 47° 19.762′ N, 122° 34.825′ W. Marker is in Gig Harbor, Washington, in Pierce County. Marker is at the intersection of Harborview Drive and Pioneer Way, on the right when traveling west on Harborview Drive. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3104 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor WA 98335, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Birth of the Business District (within shouting distance of this marker); People's Dock (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); A Growing Community (about 300 feet away); The Landing (about 400 feet away); Skansie Brothers Park (about 500 feet away); Skansie Netshed & House (about 500 feet away); Explore Gig Harbor Wildwaters (about 600 feet away); Lost At Sea (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Gig Harbor.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker.
Also see . . .  Judge Richard (Dick) Thurston (Harbor History Museum Blog, 2015). (Submitted on August 21, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Credits. This page was last revised on August 22, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 21, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 68 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 21, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

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Dec. 8, 2022