James Loughran recently celebrated his landmark 90th birthday at his favorite local Italian restaurant, Maggiano’s Little Italy.
After he and his wife, Patricia Durkee, commemorated their union at this elegant restaurant, they have become well-known to the community of Bellevue because they are the oldest married couple still living that are from Bellevue.
James and Patricia were married on August 6th, 1948 at a local church in downtown Bellevue when Bellevue was just a small community. There were no floating bridges and to get to Seattle you either drove around through Bothell or took a small silver ferry from Kirkland to Seattle for 50 cents.
James Loughran and Patricia Durkee met in the Bellevue High School band. They both played the trombone when the school was still located on a piece of land which has now become a part of Bellevue Downtown Park – two decades after the school began.
Patty recalls that when she and Jim attended the school, ”there might have been two hundred students.” Today, Bellevue High School has grown so much in student population that the school now only allows students living within certain zones of the city to attend. Currently, there are over a thousand students enrolled in the school.
Jim was born on a farm just off of Bellevue Way and 19th street, when Bellevue Way was still a dirt road. When the pair got married, they built a house on that very same family property which they still live in today. Patty recalls Jim’s father asking the couple to ”pick out a piece” of the land he owned shortly after they married to keep the family together on the same lot.
Bellevue has changed considerably since Jim and Patty got married. When they were in high school, and in the early years of their marriage, Bellevue constituted a small, simple community. Patty recalls that most people “knew and liked one another.”
-has the second largest city center in Washington State
-has 10,200 residents
-has 45,000 employees
-is the 6th wealthiest community in Washington
– #1 in CNN Money’s list of the best places to live and launch a business in 2008.
The Bellevue Jim and Patty once knew, is “not that way anymore.” A lot of the architecture and culture has changed. There have been drastic changes in the economy, yet the couple has adapted to these changes saying, “some of them we like, some of them we do not.”
Despite these changes, Jim and Patty have remained deeply committed to serving the city and its community over the years. The pair has been actively involved with the Bellevue Historical Society from the beginning. It was founded in 1986.
In 2001, when the Historical Society merged with the Marymoor Museum and became the Eastside Heritage Center, the Loughran’s continued to participate. They attend meetings and shared their long history in the city with members of the new organization. Karen Klett, the director of the Eastside Heritage Center, recalls that ”when the historic Winters House opened in 1992, Jim’s carpentry skills contributed to the building of two significant items for the House.” The Loughran’s remained hosts at the Winters House for about fifteen years, until Jim’s health made it necessary for them to retire.
During that time, Patty took on the task of contacting hosts every week which Klett describes as having been a ”wonderful and faithful service for the organization.”
According to Sellmeyer, one of Maggiano’s managing partners; the photograph honoring the couple at Maggiano’s in Bellevue will continue to hang there indefinitely. It is seen as a tribute to their impressive commitment to each other and the city of Bellevue. Sellmeyer sees it as somewhat of an example to other guests of the restaurant and says ”I am a bit envious of them. I have not been that lucky. They are truly a wonderful couple.”
Michael Ayers, the Assistant General Manager at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Bellevue also considers the Loughran’s to be important members of the greater Bellevue community. He was so touched by the impact they have had over the years. He reported that the community was “so humbled that Mr. Loughran was born on this road when it was still dirt. Bellevue has changed a lot and it was a pleasure and privilege to have Mr. Loughran celebrate his 90th birthday with us, at Maggiano’s.”
Their daughter, Maryjo Calkins, granddaughter, Jamael Fischer, and three great grandchildren, James, Tristan and Patricia, and Grandson by marriage Phil Fischer, all continue to live near Jim and Patty in Bellevue.
Happy birthday Mr. Loughran, and thank you for contributing so richly to our community over the last few decades!