Skagit River Journal
(Hamel Pontiac)
of History & Folklore
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    This photo of the old Hamel Pontiac Garage was taken in December 1957. Joe Hamel, former manager of the Piggly Wiggly Grocery store downtown, bought the Pontiac dealership from Jake Cully in 1952. It was located at the northwest corner of Haines and State streets in Sedro-Woolley, approximately where Sedro-Woolley Glass is located today. Just to the west was Johnson's Cannery and Feed and Seed, where many of we young pups delivered the blackberries, cascara bark and strawberries we had harvested. And on the diagonal alongside the cannery ran the final section of track remaining from the 1889 Fairhaven & Southern Railway. Hamel moved his dealership to Highway 20 in 1973. This is just one of the newest-page edition of the growing special Journal section of 1950s and '60s photos of Sedro-Woolley people and businesses, part of Issue 61 of our optional subscribers magazine, which will be posted in March 2015. Click on photo for complete version.
(bullet) Site founded Sept. 1, 2000. Passed 7.5 million page views, November 2014; passed 800 stories in 2012 — Mailing: (bullet) Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284 — where Mortimer Cook started a town & named it Bug
Journal co-awarded 2014 Award, Skagit County Historical Society

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Biographies and obituaries of Skagit county
Pioneers and their descendants: W

Continually updated, last time: March 1, 2015
      You will find the type of story in brackets [ ] behind the file link. [Bio] indicates a Journal story link. [Obit] leads to an obituary on this page. If you have suggestions for people you want to read about, please email us and we will add them to the list. Meanwhile, just click on the link and it will take you to the obit for each person, along with our notes, if we have more information, or a link to another page that will tell you more about him or her. Please note that if a woman was the descendant of a pioneer family, her link will sometimes be listed under the first letter of both her maiden name and her married name at the time of her death. And please email us if you have family memories or copies of documents or photos you would like us to include. We never ask for your originals.

(Spud Walley)
Donald T. "Spud" Walley, Sedro-Woolley
Skagit Valley Herald March 6, 2009
      Donald T. "Spud" Walley, 83, a longtime Sedro-Woolley resident, passed away on Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at Skagit Valley Hospital in Mount Vernon. He was born on February 16, 1926 in Seattle, the son of Dominic and Agnes Walley.
      He was raised and attended school in Sedro-Woolley and would have graduated with the class of 1945 but during WW II was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Corp in 1944. He served two years as a tail gunner in B-17's and B-29's. While on leave after basic training he married his high school sweetheart, Betty Lisherness on January 31, 1945. They were married for 53 years until her death in 1998. He was later married to Kathryn Greene for 5 years until her death in 2004 and he then married Earlene White.
      In 1946 after his discharge from the service Spud attended the University of Washington and then attended and graduated from Western Washington College in Bellingham in 1953. In the fall of 1953 he started teaching in the Sedro-Woolley School District, teaching 6th grade at Central School. He went to Cascade Middle School in 1956 where he coached three sports, football, wrestling and baseball. In 1969 he went to the high school where he took over the wrestling program. His teams won the league title 12 times, the regional title 10 years in a row and state championships in 1976, 1981 and 1983. He retired from teaching and coaching in 1984.
      Spud was also very involved in city government. He served on the Sedro-Woolley City Council for 16 years, from 1960 to 1976. In 1976 he was elected Mayor, serving the city in that position for 20 years, from 1976 to 1992 and from 1997 to 2000. During his term as mayor many projects were completed. The Community Center, Riverfront Park, the Senior Center, Janicki Fields and many others. He was dedicated to the Sedro-Woolley community and loved it dearly.
      He was a member of the Washington Education Assoc., the National Education Assoc., the S-WHS Alumni Assoc., the Retired Teachers Assoc. and the American Legion.
      He is survived by his wife, Earlene at the family home in Sedro-Woolley. His children and their spouses, Cyndi and Steve Geiger of Anacortes, Randy and Sandra Walley of Aubrey, Texas, Shane and Kim Walley of Burlington and Don, Jr. and Gretchen Walley of Shoreline. Nine grandchildren, Joshua, Nathan, Brent, Tonya, Tiffany, Josh, Melissa and Tony and seven great-grandchildren, Madeline, Jordan, Kendall, Alexis, Jacob, Lucas and Isabella. Two half-sisters, Billie Hanna and Edna Neighbor; a half-brother, Jack MacLellan; a step-sister, Faye Spahn; two step-children, Linda Moorcroft and Donald White and his wife Becky; five step-grandchildren; three step-great-grandchildren and numerous extended family and friends.

(Spud and sisters)
Spud and his sister horsing around in front of their Sedro-Woolley home, which once stood on State Street just west of the present Hal's Drive-In

      He was preceded in death by his parents; his wives, Betty Lou and Kathryn; a sister, Clara Rabello; a step-sister, Grace and three step-brothers, Jim, Guy and LeRoy MacLellan. Memorials in Spud's name are suggested to the Sedro-Woolley Alumni Assoc. or to St. Jude's Hospital.
      Funeral services with Military Honors will be held on Saturday, March 14, 2009 at 12:00 noon at the Sedro-Woolley High School Gymnasium with Pastor Wendy Tingley of Trinity United Presbyterian Church officiating. Interment will follow at the Sedro-Woolley Union Cemetery. Visitation is available at Lemley Chapel in Sedro-Woolley on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from Monday, March 9th thru Friday March 13th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Share memories of Spud and sign the online guest register at To view a live webcast of the funeral services go to, click on Spud's obituary and then click the link at the bottom of the page.

    Any time, any amount, please help build our travel and research fund for what promises to be a very busy 2015, traveling to mine resources from California to Washington and maybe beyond. Depth of research determined by the level of aid from readers. Because of our recent illness, our research fund is completely bare. See many examples of how you can aid our project and help us continue for another 15 years. And subscriptions to our optional Subscribers Online Magazine (launched 2000) by donation too. Thank you.
      Journal Ed. note: Oddly, none of the obituaries or profiles mentioned Spud's unique historical connection. He was a direct descendant of one of the first Skagit River pioneers, William Hamilton, the namesake of the upriver town. Spud was one of my teachers at Central Grade School and his family and mine were very good friends. He and Betty often invited us during summers to join them at their Birch Bay summer cottage. I was undergoing surgery for my own illness at the time of Spud's death and memorial and I regret I did not get to join the hundreds of friends and colleagues who honored him. He will especially be remembered for his dedication to the Sedro-Woolley High School wrestling program and his championship teams, part of the legend of Sedro-Woolley as the most successful school/team in state history.

(Art Ward)
Arthur H. Ward, Sedro-Woolley
Unknown newspaper October 1971
      Arthur H. Ward, 80, retired Skagit County Superior Court Judge, died unexpectedly on Tuesday Sept, 28, 1971, at this home on Route 4, Mount Vernon. Judge Ward was born Aug. 15, 1891, in Centralia. He graduated from the University of Washington Law School in 1915 and served with the U.S. Army Engineers during World War I.
      He established a law firm in Sedro-Woolley in 1921 and on May 17, 1924, was married to Lois McKee in Sedro-Woolley. He was appointed to the Skagit County Supreme Court in [March 1955], retiring in 1966.
      During his distinguished law career, he had served as visiting judge in King County Superior Courts, and for a brief term served as Judge Pro Tem on the State Supreme Court. He served on the Board of Governors of the Washington State Bar Association for two terms, and had served on the Sedro-Woolley School Board and was Sedro-Woolley city attorney for 12 years.
      He was a member of the Knights of Pythias, the Masonic Lodge and the American Legion, all of Sedro-Woolley, and was a past president of the Sedro-Woolley Rotary Club and a member of the Mount Vernon Rotary Club.
      He is survived by his widow, Lois; one son, John, one daughter, Mrs. Barbara Larson, and six grandchildren, all of Sedro-Woolley. Funeral services for Judge Ward are under the direction of the Lemley Chapel and will be announced Thursday.
      Journal Ed. note: While reading correspondence from Sedro town father J.B. Alexander, we discovered that Art Ward moved here after rooming with Alexander's son at the University of Washington.

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=       Charles J. Wicker Jr., 72, a lifelong resident of Sedro-Woolley, died Sept. 14, 1979, at a local hospital. Mr. Wicker was born Dec. 17, 1906, in Sedro-Woolley, son of the late Charles J. Wicker Sr. and Martha Hyatt Wicker.
[See this obituary as well as the rest of the Wicker documents at this new 2015 site. .

(Bob Wilcox)
Robert A. Wilcox, Sedro-Woolley
Skagit Valley Herald, January 2002
      Robert A. Wilcox, a lifetime resident of Skagit Valley, passed away Sunday, January 20, 2002 at his home in Sedro-Woolley, WA with his family at his side at the age of 78 years. He was born December 20, 1923 in Mount Vernon, the son of Paul and Marie Boswell Wilcox.
      Bob grew up in the Clear Lake area attending school at [Orilla] and Baker Heights School near Big Rock and later attending Sedro-Woolley High School graduating with the class of 1942. Growing up he enjoyed fishing for sea run cutthroat, shooting northern mallards, and during high school he played quarterback for the Sedro-Woolley Cubs.
      During WWII, Bob enlisted in the US Army Air Force receiving his pilot wings where he flew B-25 medium bombers serving as an instructor. After the war, Bob went to Skagit Valley Community College (then called Mount Vernon Jr. College) for two years where he met his wife of 52 years Patricia Leonard and they were married at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Mount Vernon on August 21, 1949.
      He later attended Western Washington State College in Bellingham receiving his teaching certificate in 1950 and later working on his Masters. Bob taught for three years at Concrete and returned to Sedro-Woolley, teaching for four years. An opportunity presented itself to make a career change and Bob began working for Bergland Ford, later Vern Sims Ford and Gearhart Ford, selling cars and he later began a 35 year career as a life insurance salesman for New York Life Insurance Co. in the Sedro-Woolley area.
      Bob was a member of Washington State Life Underwriters, charter member and past president of Northwest Washington Estate Planning Council, Sedro-Woolley High School Alumni Association, Elks, Moose, and George Baldridge Post #43 American Legion. He served on the Board of Directors for 10 years for the American Lung Association, 8 years on the Sedro-Woolley City Council, and was past President of the North Cross State Highway Association. Since 1977, Bob had been an active member of the Sedro-Woolley Rotary Club serving as club secretary for two years, club president from 1992-1993, and a recipient of the Paul Harris Award.
      Bob is survived by his wife, Patricia of the family home in Sedro-Woolley; 2 daughters: Cyndi and her husband Randy Walters of Anacortes and Paula Brunn of Longmont, CO; son-in-law, Jon Skogmo of Burlington; 6 grandchildren: Ryan, Robert and Jonathan Walters of Anacortes, Aaron and Anna Brunn of Longmont, CO, and Troy Skogmo of Burlington; a brother, Bill and his wife, Jean Wilcox of Clear Lake; and a sister in law, Dorothy Wilcox of Coupeville; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, a brother, Paul Wilcox, Jr. and his beloved daughter, Debbie Lynn Skogmo.
      Memorial services will be held Saturday, January 26, 2002 at 1:00 PM at St. James Episcopal Church in Sedro-Woolley with The Reverend Vicki Wersen officiating. Inurnment will be at Hawthorne Cemetery in Mount Vernon at a later date. Memorials are suggested to the Sedro-Woolley High School Alumni Association P.O. Box 509, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284. Arrangements and services under the care of Lemley Chapel, Sedro-Woolley.
      Journal Ed. note: Bob Wilcox was one of the key people who helped us with this research project in the very early days of 1992, as he suggested for the Sedro-Woolley to help underwrite a trip around the United States so that we could find and interview descendants of our earliest pioneers. He was also a tremendous wine maker in addition to being one of my grade school teachers.

Evelyn Miller Wilkeson, Chelan and Tacoma
Seattle Times, Undated newspaper probably in 1954
      Funeral services for Mrs. Evelyn Miller Wilkeson, 83, believed to be the first white woman to cross the Cascade pass, will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Home Undertaking Co. Chapel. Cremation will follow. Mrs. Wilkeson, 102 Seventh Ave., died in a rest home Saturday after a brief illness. She was the widow of Bayard Wilkeson, railroad man and son of Col. Frank Wilkeson, who surveyed the western route of the Great Northern Railway from St. Paul, Minn.
      Mrs. Wilkeson was born in Peru, Ind. She and her husband homesteaded near Chelan in the early 1890s. The couple, accompanied by a 3-year old daughter, went from Bridge Creek, a small mining settlement at the head of Lake Chelan, to Hamilton, Skagit County, in June 1895. Mrs. Wilkeson walked most of the journey.
      After several years in Tacoma, Mrs. Wilkeson came to Seattle in 1923. Her husband died nine years ago. Surviving are a son, Samuel L. Wilkeson, Seattle; a daughter, Mrs. Charles Smith, Salina, Kan; four grandchildren, and six grandchildren.
      Journal Ed. note: Bayard was the son of famed New York Times columnist Frank Wilkeson, whose columns are featured in the Journal.

Martha Willard, Sedro-Woolley
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, Aug. 15, 1940
      Funeral services for Mrs. Martha Willard, pioneer resident of this city, who died on Aug. 12, at her home after a year's illness, will be held on Saturday at the Lemley Mortuary. Mrs. Willard was born on Oct. 21, 1860, in Virginia, Illinois. On Nov. 11, 1880, she was married to A.J. Willard and to this union, nine children were born. In 1884 they came to LaConner and in the same year took a homestead near Sedro-Woolley, where she resided until she passed away.
      Mrs. Willard is survived by four of her nine children: Oscar C. Willard of New Westminster, B.C., Henry Willard of Sedro-Woolley, Azro J. Willard of Anchorage, Alaska, and Mrs. Frances Westerman of Sedro-Woolley; seven grandchildren, Roy Osborne of Lake Stevens, Vivian L. Coultas of Sedro-Woolley, Lyle Coultas of Everett, Verna and Roger Westerman of Sedro-Woolley, Mable and Frank Willard of Anchorage, Alaska, and three great-grandchildren, Harry, Wayne and James Coultas of Everett.

Claude B. Wilson, Hamilton, Burlington
Skagit Valley Herald, April 20, 2004
      Claude B. Wilson passed away on April 15, 2004 at his home in Burlington. He was born on December 10, 1908, in a sod house on the Oklahoma prairie near Rosston. He and his four sisters spent most of their school years on a wheat/cattle farm. He did well in school and even represented his school in a typing contest. He participated in all sports and at 110 pounds had several broken bones to show for it. He was driving a team of horses before he was big enough to harness them. Following the team in soft dirt all day was very tiring so he lengthened the reins enabling him to ride his saddle horse while tilling the soil. This desire to do it better or easier followed him all his life.
      He worked his way through the pharmacy school at Kansas State University and then began a career as a pharmacist in Kansas City, which lasted for several years. While there he met and married Gwen Edwards and they were together for the next 62 years in Hamilton until her death in 1993.
      Having had pneumonia numerous times as a youth had resulted in heart valve damage. Doctors told him to leave his career as a pharmacist and do physical work in clean air. He returned to wheat farming but arrived in the middle of the Dust Bowl and Depression. After planting his third wheat crop, to no avail, he moved to the state of Washington and settled in Sedro-Woolley where he knew it would rain. He arrived in 1934 with $80 and a pregnant wife. He temporarily rented a small farm for $10 that was scheduled to be repossessed east of Sedro-Woolley. When this occurred he moved his wife, new son Brownie and eleven cows, to three small leased farms east of Hamilton. Over the next 30 years he acquired five other properties nearby and increased his herd to 70 cows. He also, during this period, was employed for four years by the State to supervise all Northwest County Agricultural Extension offices. He began farming with horses and his first purchased farming implement was a manure spreader; his second was a tractor. A number of articles were written by the County Extension Office about innovative things he did like not using a cover crop when planting grass and reseeding without plowing. He was one of the first to change from hay to silage as feed, to use several silos and an automatic feeding system. He built one of the first silage bunkers, which made his silos obsolete. Prior to hydraulics, he was using gravity and a small blade on his Farmall tractor to move manure.
      He had the first, and for many years, only, hay baler in the upper Skagit Valley. There are few hay fields there in which he did not bale, and few upper valley kids that didn't work in hauling the bales. When the dairy industry changed and one needed 150 cows to stay in business, he opted out of the business. For the next few years, he raised 300 first-calf heifers each year. He bought heifers from breeders locally and as far away as Idaho, and sold them in the states of California, Hawaii, and Alaska, as well as locally. When Gwen's health worsened, he spent most of his time with her and rented his land to Sakuma Brothers. He later sold it to John Mower, whose son, Randy, now owns and operates the former Wilson Farm.
      He spent one term as Skagit County Commissioner. While in office, he developed a funding plan for the construction of the Grandy Creek Road to Baker Lake, and the Steelhead Park at Rockport was created. He also took it upon himself to develop the Skagit County Planning Department. He developed Shangri-La and the Hamilton RV Park along the Skagit River.
      Three years after the death of his beloved Gwen, he married a long time friend, Maxine Sines. They have lived happily for almost nine years at their home in Burlington. It had been a long time since he had been involved with those outside his family, but prior to the 1970's he made his mark in Skagit County. Survivors include his wife, Maxine; his son, C.B. "Brownie" Wilson, Jr.; three grandchildren: Judy, Gary, and Ron; 7 great-grandchildren: Christine, Sam, Josh, Nicholas, Shawn, Jamie and Christian. At Claude's request, there will be no funeral service. Inurnment will be at the Hawthorne Memorial Cemetery in Mount Vernon.

Alice Wise, Sedro-Woolley
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, June 2, 1955
      Mrs. Alice Wise of 906 State street passed away Sept. 1 at the Memorial hospital. Mrs. Wise was born Jan. 4, 1886, in Floyd county, Kentucky, and came to Skagit county 62 years ago. She had made her home in Sedro-Woolley for fifty years.
      Surviving are her husband, Ed; six sons, Ben of Seattle, Edward and Jim of Sedro-Woolley, George of Big Lake, Frank of Sedro-Woolley and Bob Wise in the U.S. Army in Germany; also 13 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Funeral services will be held in the chapel of the Lemley mortuary at a date to be announced later. Interment will be in the Sedro-Woolley cemetery.

Philip A. Woolley, Sedro-Woolley
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, June 1912
      We are called upon this week to chronicle the death of one who is justly entitled to the appellation, "Father of the City." Mr. Philip A. Woolley, who laid out the town site of the city of Woolley, and engaged in various enterprises which helped to build up the community and place it in the lead as a center of trade and industry.
      It was two years ago lacking one month that Mr. Woolley was stricken with paralysis while in Savanna, Ga., and it was on the 17th of the month of June that the final summons came, he having the use of his faculties until very near the end. [He died on June 17, 1912.]
      He is survived by his wife and four children, all of whom were with him at the last except Philip L., who was not able to reach here from Atlanta in time. His daughter Zaida, Mrs. Horace Pinhey of Ottawa, Canada, arrived last week. William A. and Kate, Mrs. C.C. Harbaugh, are well known residents of this city.
      The funeral was private, a short service being conducted on Wednesday by Rev. H.L. Wilhelm at the residence. The body lay in state for the view of friends from 10 to 12 the same forenoon.
      Mr. Woolley was born at Malone in the St. Lawrence valley of New York on Feb. 17, 1831. He was descended on the paternal side from English ancestry and on the maternal side from the German and French, but in each case his forebears had for generations been residents of the United States, many of them occupying honored and useful positions in life. The Woolleys were represented in the Revolutionary War, espousing the cause of the colonies and independence.
      Mr. Woolley's father, Dr. Emerson Woolley, was for many years a practicing physician and representative citizen of Ogdensburg, the chief city of northern New York and a prominent shipping point on the St. Lawrence waterway from the Great Lakes to the Gulf.
      Philip A. Woolley attended the schools of the Empire state until he was eighteen, when he commenced life on his own recognizance. His first undertaking was a lumber contract, but shortly after the completion of this work he entered the mercantile business at Russell, Canada, where he continued for a number of years. While in Russell, Mr. Woolley commenced to engage in contracting work, so that in 1864 he was prepared to accept a contract for railroad work at Escanaba, Michigan, in construction of the road between that point and Green Bay, Wisconsin. Three years were consumed in completing this work and then Mr. Woolley went to Grand Haven, Michigan, where he had a government contract which occupied his attention and energy for ten years. During this period he also carried on railroad work.
      For the next subsequent thirteen years Mr. Woolley made his headquarters at Elgin, Illinois, frow which place he directed a great amount of contract work for the Chicago & Alton railway. It was in 1889 that Mr. Woolley came to Washington and Skagit county. Here he purchased a large tract of land and so great was his foresight and his faith in the future development of the country that amid trees which had never known the ax he laid out the site of the town which was to bear this name, himself felling the first tree on the town site.
      Mr. Woolley platted the townsite of Woolley at the junction of the G.N., N.P. and Fairhaven & Southern railways on June 3, 1890. [Actually the Great Northern was then the Seattle & Northern, running west to east, which was originally a project of the Oregon Improvement Co., a Union Pacific railroad affiliate; and the Northern Pacific. was then the Seattle Lake Shore & Eastern-West Coast Line, a railroad of Seattle interests.]
      For a time Mr. Woolley engaged somewhat in mining and one of his enterprises was the construction of a large lumber and shingle mill, which he afterward sold. He has made Woolley his headquarters ever since, continuing an extensive contracting business with operations in various parts of the country. In 1901 Mr. Woolley secured the contract for furnishing all the material for the Sea Board Air Line, which contact did not terminate until 1908.
      In January of 1857, while a resident of Russell, Canada, Mr. Woolley married Miss Catherine Loucks, a daughter of Hon. W.G. Loucks, a merchant of Ottawa, the capital of the dominion. Mr. Loucks was descended from immigrants from Luxemburg, Germany, who on settling in Canada became adherents to the loyalist cause. In his later years he was in the civil service department of the Canadian government. He passed away in March 1900, a prominent and highly respected citizen of the community in which he had passed his life.
      Mr. and Mrs. Woolley have two sons and two daughters. The sons, William and Philip, have been associated with their father in his contracting enterprises in Georgia, Florida and other Southern states. One of the daughters, Zaida, is the wife of Horace Pinhey, a government official of Ottawa; the other, Kate, is the wife of Dr. C.C. Harbaugh, a prominent physician of Sedro-Woolley. In fraternal circles Mr. Woolley was a member of the Masonic order and also of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In religious affiliations he has been a lifelong Presbyterian. In politics he was a Republican and has always taken a commendable interest in political matters, though in no sense an active politician
      Journal Ed. note: For the full story of P.A. Woolley and the town he started, see website:

Christian H. Wulff, Sedro-Woolley, Utopia
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times June 2, 1955
      Christian Henry Wulff, a resident of this community for the last 70 years, passed away in Mount Vernon on May 27. Born April 28, 1871, in New York City, he came to this community at the age of 16. He had been engaged in farming and logging since coming to this part of the country
      Funeral services were held in the chapel of the Lemley mortuary on May 31 at 2 p.m. Rev. Harold Bolm of the Bethlehem Lutheran church officiated and interment was in the family plot at the Sedro-Woolley cemetery. Mr. Wulff's wife, Nora, preceded him in death on Sept. 30, 1929.
      Surviving are four daughters, Mrs. Mary Stiles of Townsend, Montana, Mrs. Laura Litzenberg of Santa Maria, Calif., Mrs. Betty Dunlap of Mount Vernon and Miss Grace Wulff of Sedro-Woolley; one son, Daniel Wulff of Spokane; two sisters, Mrs. Louise Taylor of Bellingham and Mrs. Tillie Nichols of route 3, Sedro-Woolley; one brother, George Leggett of Rockport and nine grandchildren.
      Journal Ed. note: We have interviewed Chris's surviving children, Bill (Daniel) and Betty and we will post their family story in the near future. We hope that Utopia descendants can help.

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Story posted on Sept. 1, 2003, last updated March 1, 2015
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