Patrolman Gene Bolstad
Eugene Allen Bolstad, known to friends and family as “Gene,” was born on July 16, 1927, in Bend, Oregon, to Magne B. Bolstad and Ruth Francis Innis. He was raised with two half siblings, Bettie Lee and Charles J., in the Tacoma area. The children attended elementary school in University Place and junior high in Tacoma. Gene was a basketball player and champion swimmer. He graduated from Stadium High School in Tacoma in 1946, and continued his higher education at the College of Puget Sound.
Bolstad’s passion for police work began in 1950, with the Tacoma Police Department where he served alongside his half-brother Charles. The men worked side by side and were frequently found visiting a downtown department store where Bolstad’s future wife, Barbara, worked as a model. Bolstad and Barbara were married in September 1951, and featured on the front page of the Tacoma News Tribune’s society section.
Eugene and Barbara moved to Spokane where he worked with the State Fisheries Department. On January 1, 1955, Eugene Bolstad joined the Washington State Patrol as a dispatcher while waiting for the 23rd cadet class.
Trooper Bolstad was commissioned on March 29, 1956, under the leadership of Chief James A. Pryde. He and Barbara transferred to Ocean Park one month after his commission. The couple purchased a home and a pair of beach cottages; Barbara would tend to tourist tenants during the high travel seasons while Bolstad was working the road.
Trooper Eugene Bolstad died on September 3, 1957, at the age of 29 attempting to rescue a teenage boy (Alvin Wiese, age 18) in the surf at Long Beach. Both were caught in an undertow. At the time of his death, Trooper Bolstad had served 2-1/2 years with the Washington State Patrol.
Trooper Bolstad was married to Barbara for six years and they did not have any children. One of the main streets in Long Beach was renamed Bolstad Avenue in honor of Trooper Bolstad in 1958.
Barbara met her second husband, Paul Diamond, on a blind date and learned that he had been on the swim team with Gene Bolstad. They were married for more than 40 years, until his death in 2012.
Natalie St. John, of the Chinook Observer, interviewed Barbara Diamond in 2015. A fascinating story resulting from the interview was published – please take a few minutes to read this story: https://www.chinookobserver.com/life/local-hero-nice-young-officer-lost-his-life-on-our-beach/article_c600bd46-7db4-596d-b2cf-ff53cb019aeb.html
In May of 1999, Trooper Bolstad was awarded the Washington Law Enforcement Medal of Honor, posthumously, for his actions on September 3, 1957, by the Law Enforcement – Medal of Honor Committee.