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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 50 years ago

William Bert Preecs, a 44-year-old Spokane salesman, had a secret life: He had been undercover as a “Red” (Communist) for the FBI over the past six years.

His identity was revealed in a Subversive Activities Control Board hearing in Seattle, where he was the star government witness. The board was holding a hearing on whether a Seattle man, Burt G. Nelson, “must register as a Communist.”

According to the FBI, Preecs had spent years posing as a Communist and attending meetings in the state. Preecs eventually rose to the party’s District Committee, Northwest District.

The FBI showered praise on Preecs for his service to the country.

“The assignment made it necessary for him to conceal those activities from his family, children, fellow workers, fellow church workers and other friends,” said an FBI special agent. “Nonetheless, he was able to carry on his assignment in an exemplary manner, and at the same time, rear his family in a religious faith of his choice and participate as a leader in a nationwide boys’ organization.”

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1942: President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered nationwide gasoline rationing, beginning Dec. 1. The motion picture “Casablanca,” starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, had its world premiere at the Hollywood Theater in New York.

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