Mark and Annie Mulligan / The Herald
Joanne Cooper, 55, of Marysville, holds a picture of her father, Ron Hughley who worked at the mill for over 40 years. With Joanne are her brother, Tom Hughley, who also spent his entire adult life at the mill, and Joann's son, Joshua Cooper, who had been at the mill for 5 years. Joanne, who was at the mill for 29 years, was working as a Training Administrative Safety Leader.
Voices of the mill: Joanne Cooper, 55, of Marysville
Training Administrative Safety Leader, 29 years
The Last Smokestack
Faces of the mill
More mill stories
- Federal aid to help 570 K-C mill employees find work (April 2012)
- Julie Muhlstein: Kimberly-Clark mill's end ‘devastating' (January 2012)
- Mike Benbow: 'Last of the big smokestacks' (September 2011)
- Op-Ed: Weigh in on the K-C site's future (March 2012)
- Pete Jackson: More than pulp and steam (September 2011)
- Talks begin on future of Kimberly-Clark mill site (April 2012)
- Voices of the mill: A strawberry princess turned boiler operator (March 2012)
Joanne Cooper was raised in a Scott Paper Co., household, the daughter of a machine tender.
Her father, Ron Hughley, died in 2004. He worked at the mills for more than 40 years.
“My dad was a jokester,” she said. “He used to say, ‘We work our arses off to keep yours clean.'”
As a child, she remembers the company Christmas program at the Everett Civic Auditorium, complete with Santa, elves and a present with her name on it afterward.
Her family connection eventually landed her work there during college. When a planned career in forestry didn't work out, she found herself employed there, too.
Like many, she held a variety of jobs, including working with chemicals to make paper towels stronger and more absorbent.
By the end, she was helping workers in the paper mill get safety and job training.
She liked working with men, but she noted that even today the mills remain male-dominated. In order to be successful, the few women who worked on that side of the business had to adapt.
“It was challenging,” she said. “It's not a woman's world down there.”
For her, the closure of the mills is sad. She doesn't understand how a company could shut down a mill that's been profitable for decades.
“It made money when my father was a machine tender until the day we shut it down,” she said.
Now, Cooper is looking toward the future. She thinks she'll likely go back to school.
• The Last Smokestack: Go to the main series page