SMOKEY POINT — Former Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson was treated to more than a few memories of her years of service with the Arlington School District and the city as the awardee of this year’s Lifetime Achievement breakfast ceremony at the Stillaguamish Senior Center on Wednesday, Sept. 19.
Dale and Dave Duskin, co-chairs of the Lifetime Achievement fundraising breakfast program, became well acquainted with Larson when they were high school students, since she went to work in 1966 as secretary to the high school principal, before her later move to the district offices, where she served as payroll director for 10 years and retired as finance director in 2002.
“We knew there’d be a big crowd because everyone loves Margaret,” Dave Duskin said. “When we reminded her that this event helps raise funds for the Stillaguamish Senior Center, she jumped right on it.”
“I can’t think of anything better than giving to this organization,” Larson said, after telling Dave and Dale Duskin, “You two were whiz-bang boys. I never saw a kid in high school I didn’t like, and I never met a person in city government I didn’t like.”
Dave Duskin noted that Larson was the first of their Lifetime Achievement awardees to have been born in the Arlington hospital. Born Margaret Halverson in 1937, she met John Larson in Arlington High School, before they graduated together in 1956 and got married in 1957.
John’s death in 2001 and her own retirement from the Arlington School District in 2002 left her open to be drafted to run for mayor in 2003, allowing Margaret to follow John’s 11 years in that office with eight years of her own.
Even before her time as mayor saw her co-founding the Arlington Education Foundation and taking an active hand in the Arts Alive fundraising to build the Linda M. Byrnes Performing Arts Center, Margaret Larson has been active in her hometown for more than 55 years, supporting her husband’s activities with the local Lions Club and Masonic Lodge before serving eight years on the Board of Directors of the Josephine Sunset Home, where John Larson went to live after stepping down as mayor due to health reasons.
“It’s all about the people,” Margaret Larson said. “I’ll always remember the wonderful people I’ve worked with.”
“You changed the philosophy of this city from, ‘You can’t do that,’ to, ‘How can we help you?’” Dave Duskin said.
Bob Drewel, executive director of the Puget Sound Regional Council, praised Margaret Larson as someone who’s made a difference in many people’s lives without expecting anything in return.
“She’s always understood that good people make a good community,” Drewel said.
“It’s people that make it work, not politicians,” Larson said.