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Pioneer reunion honors history, looks ahead

In J.Y. “Dyc” Dycus’ absence, his wife Sylvia presented the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Association’s honor for the native-born couple married the longest to Harry and Ruth Yost, married 63 years. - KIRK BOXLEITNER The Arlington Times
In J.Y. “Dyc” Dycus’ absence, his wife Sylvia presented the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Association’s honor for the native-born couple married the longest to Harry and Ruth Yost, married 63 years.
— image credit: KIRK BOXLEITNER The Arlington Times

ARLINGTON — The Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Association celebrated their 96th annual reunion in the Pioneer Hall, Aug. 17, by memorializing their past and planning for their future.

After the potluck lunch with lots of dessert, the Pioneers honored the oldest native-born man and woman, 96-year-old Orv Forbes and 95-year-old Helen Starr, as well as the native-born couple married the longest.

Starr stayed in Arlington, where she clerked as a civilian for the U.S. Navy for 20 years, while Forbes lives in Bothell and has worked as a boilermaker as far away as California, Wyoming and Alaska. Starr has two children, while Forbes has four children, 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Starr attributed her longevity to keeping her mind and body active, by walking and reading daily, although she admitted that she prefers romantic and historic novels. Orv Forbes credited his long life to “good whiskey,” while his daughter Linda said, “I think it’s because of his kids.” While Starr plays games like rummy cube, Orv does crossword puzzles every day, in ink, and pores through the newspaper and Reader’s Digest.

Sylvia and J.Y. “Dyc” Dycus got married April 18, 1944, but because Dyc couldn’t attend the reunion, Sylvia honored Harry and Ruth Yost as the native-born couple in attendance married the longest, at 63 years.

Ruth was initially reluctant to take the honor from Sylvia and Dyc, but Sylvia assured her that the Dycuses would take it back from the Yosts next year.

“Dyc’s recovering from open heart surgery, but he should be back by the end of the week,” Sylvia said. “He likes to joke around and call the nurses at the hospital by different names every time he sees them, and I tell him, ‘You can’t do that, Dyc! They’ll think you have dementia!’”

Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson updated the Pioneers on changes in the city over the course of the past year, including the completion of the North Olympic Avenue Reconstruction Project, the improvements made by Cenex to the former Safeway building on Olympic Avenue, and the approximately $1 million in monies received for 67th Avenue.

Larson also told the Pioneers to expect a new four-story building on the site of the Olympic Avenue car wash, which will include room for businesses and two floors of condominium apartments, as well as improvements to the Arlington Pharmacy. As the city prepares for a new fire station, she added that the pre-existing fire station in downtown Arlington will be remodeled to accommodate firefighters in the meantime.

Larson then reiterated her commitments to the transfer of development rights program and planning for coming urban growth, while citing the city’s focus on its partnerships with its businesses, schools and community members. As an example, she pointed to the city, school district and Cascade Valley Hospital’s joint funding of an emergency management coordinator.

“One of the biggest reasons that I’m happy to be here today, though, is that a Newport, Calif., library sent us a scrapbook of Arlington,” said Larson, gently holding the 101-year-old book, whose binding was in pieces. “This belongs to the museum. It has five leather postcards, which I’d never even heard of before, and its cover is made of shade shingle.”

SVPA President Myrtle Rausch summarized the work that’s been done on the Pioneers’ facilities in the past year, including landscaping around its stump and improvements to its military memorial, both made by Boy Scouts. She predicted that the carved map of the Stillaguamish River would be ready by the end of the year, and asked for more volunteers, since volunteer aid has helped keep the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum open.

The SVPA concluded its reunion by conducting its officer elections, retaining Rausch as president and Betty Van Ausdale as secretary, while JoAnn Gray took over as vice president, Doris Senica switched from pioneer treasurer to museum treasurer, and Sharron Knutson stepped in as pioneer treasurer.

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