2017 Chieftain of the Day:

Meet Gary Cosgro

2017 Chieftain Gary Cosgro

    I was first introduction to the Tacoma Highland Games in the mid-1980s. At that time, the Games were held with the black powder shooters “mountain men” at the Chambers Creek Rifle and Revolver Club in University Place. In 1992, my partner Frances Crews became Washington State Regent for Clan Douglas Society of North America. We started the Douglas Clan tent and for the first few years attended all eleven highland games in Washington and Oregon. For the last twenty-five years, I have set up the Douglas Clan tent and helped staff it during the Games. In 1992, I began volunteering with field set-up and stage assembly the day prior to the Tacoma Highland Games.

    I always figured I would never be asked to be a Chieftain of the Games because I was not a pure Scot. However, I wear a kilt in the Kennedy Modern tartan to honor my great-grandmother Kennedy from County Cork, Ireland. There have been Kennedys in Scotland before the time of King Robert the Bruce. My red hair comes from my Danish father’s side of the family. Many members of the highland clans trace their roots to Norse bloodlines. My family has direct ties to the McFaddens, MacLaine of Lochbuie, MacQuarrie and O’Connor.

    Upon graduation from Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma, with the Vietnam War in full serge, the Selective Service Board was breathing down my neck. I enlisted in the Air Force where I was trained as a B-52 aircraft mechanic. As I was completing technical school at Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois, a squadron of new Lockheed C-141 cargo planes was assigned to McChord Air Force Base. So back I went to where I had grown up – the Tacoma area. After my Air Force enlistment, the economy in this region was slow. The sign next to the freeway said, ‘Will the last person leaving Seattle, please turn off the lights?’

    Shortly thereafter, I began a four-year carpentry apprenticeship which started my career in construction. For eleven years I built houses, apartments, a church, a big tavern, the Salvation Army building in Tacoma and many tilt up concrete storage units in the area. In 1980 I began working for the Tacoma School District. I spent the next twenty-four years in the cabinet shop and as a maintenance carpenter. I took an early retirement in 2003.

    Over the years, Frances and I have traveled to highland games in Santa Rosa, California; Pleasanton, California; Estes Park, Colorado; and Hamilton, Montana. Since the early 1990s, I’ve held membership with the Tacoma Highland Games, Tartan Day Society, Caledonian and St. Andrew’s Society of Seattle, and Scottish Terrier Rescue Northwest. We have found that attending Highland Games, Burns’ Dinners, Tartan Balls, Tartan Day in Olympia and other Scottish functions keeps us busy all year long. We have met some great Scots, many who have become close friends. I continue to enjoy sharing my love of history with people who drop by our clan tent and look forward to seeing everyone as I “tartan-up” the day of the Games.

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