Colville Tribal elder Rose (Fry) Bullock


Colville Tribal member Rose (Fry) Bullock is born a year and two months apart from sister Della. They are affiliated with the Arrow Lakes Tribe in the Colville confederation of 12.

“Our parents were young,” she said. Alta (Dutton) Fry was 19 and Claude Fry was 21. Claude, who previously served in the Signal Corps, ran a power plant on the Moyie River where the family lived.

Bullock’s great-grandfather, Richard Fry, was an early white pioneer in the Columbia River country. Richard married Justine (Susteal), a Lakes/Colville, daughter of Harry (Soqu-stik-en) in 1860 at St. Paul’s Mission near Kettle Falls. This was an event of controversy for those days, she said.

“The Lakes didn’t approve of marriage between tribal women and whites back then, but Richard had saved Harry’s life from drowning and he was allowed to marry Justine,” said Bullock.

In 1875, Richard Fry leased the ferry and trading post on the Kootenai River from Edwin Bonner, and there, Richard and Justine settled and raised a large family—Bullock’s father, Clarence, among them.

Clarence, too, would find work in the field of power production—which came with perks, Bullock found.

“My father ran the power plant on the Moyie River and was an electrician and refrigeration repair man as well,” she said. “We always had a refrigerator and radio and a comfortable life with my father.” 

That life of relative ease, however, would soon lose stability.

In preschool, the Frys moved to Lewiston, Idaho. Later, they would move again to Spokane and then Aberdeen.

“We moved around as work was available,” Bullock said. “Unfortunately, my father was also plagued by alcohol, and when I was in sixth grade, my mother, sister and I suddenly went to live with my grandparents, Frank and Della Dutton.”

The Dutton’s lived in Rochester, Washington, in Thurston County. It was inside the walls of a small house without plumbing where Bullock learned of her parents’ divorce.

“Times were harder then,” she recalled. “The great depression had caused my grandfather to lose his small grocery store in Spokane and he now had a small strawberry farm.”

At that strawberry farm in Rochester, Bullock found a job. Her father, determined to remain close to his family, worked or stayed near them. 

She graduated from Rochester High School as part of the class of 1940. She then moved to Tacoma, where she worked in her aunt Clara’s restaurant. 

“My aunt Roberta and uncle Wayne lived in Tacoma too and I had met Wayne’s younger brother Carl at their house when we were about 12.”

On Valentine’s Day in 1942, she married Carl Bullock in Tacoma. And when Bullock married, her father Claude would often stay over.

“He often stayed with us,” she said. “We had a close relationship and I always loved him very much.”

The couple had two girls when Carl was called to serve in World War II. He would become a truck mechanic serving in many places in the South Pacific during the war, Bullock said.

They would total seven children, mostly living in Tacoma and Seattle. One highlight of their lives was six weeks in 1953 spent travelling 48 states, along with the many national parks and monuments, with their five eldest children.

“We loved to travel,” Bullock said. “Most vacations were spent traveling and camping all over.”

The travel would not end soon, they found, as Carl’s work in the military brought them overseas for a period of time.

“In 1965, Carl got a job with the US Army in France and the family spent two years in France and Germany,” she said. “Again in 1971 we went to Europe, this time for three years in Germany. We traveled a lot and had wonderful times there.”

Carl retired from Civil Service in 1975 and the family lived in Spanaway until he died in 2001. Bullock then moved to Tacoma, where she currently lives.

While she has received attention as of late for her large family, Bullock often looks back to her own heritage.

“I have always been very proud of being a member of the Fry family and of my heritage in the Lakes/Colville Tribe,” she said. “I have always kept up with tribal events through the Tribal Tribune and correspondence with relatives in the tribe and on the reservation. I have shared my opinion on tribal matters with letters to our leaders and voted in tribal elections.”


The Last of the Old Ones series features 11 Colville Tribal members ages 80-100, for which 199 total remained as of Jan. 1, 2015 according to Tribal Enrollment. These members represent about 2 percent of the 9,500 tribal population.

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