Ken Baxter, Marysville city councilman for 26 years, dies at 83

  • Fri Feb 24th, 2012 7:58pm
  • News

By Amy Daybert Herald Writer

MARYSVILLE — A former city councilman and the namesake of the city’s community center died early this week.

Ken Baxter, who served on the Marysville City Council for 26 years, passed away Monday. He was 83.

Baxter began serving as an elected member of the council in January 1972 and served until December 1997 after he lost a bid for re-election.

Councilwoman Donna Wright ran against Baxter for his council position in the 1989 election. It was her first election and she ran against him because he had no other opponents, Wright said.

“My husband even asked me, ‘Why did you run against him?’” she said. “It wasn’t anything personal. It was a friendly campaign but, of course, I lost.”

When a council seat became open in 1990, it was Baxter who nominated her for the position, Wright added. She said he worked to plan for the growth of the city, which included providing utility service to rural areas and was proud of being a board member for the Marysville Fire District in 1992 at the time it was formed.

Baxter served as a volunteer firefighter in Marysville for 16 years until 1977 and with the Hat Island Volunteer Fire Department for another 15 years until 1993. His experiences as a volunteer firefighter helped him to become part of the Marysville Fire District Board of Directors. He remained a friend of the district after 1998 when his term ended.

“Being around town he would hear things so he would come here to get the straight scoop,” Marysville Fire District Chief Greg Corn said. “It was always good to visit with him. He was always a friend and fire district supporter.”

Baxter was born in Langley but was a resident of Marysville for most of his life, said his youngest daughter, Marianne Powers. He married his wife, Joann, in the early 1950s. The couple had four children. Over the years, their family grew to include 13 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Baxter and his brother, Virgil, opened Baxter’s Auto Repair in 1959. He later started Marysville Glass Company and Marysville Trailer and Supply.

Powers said she can remember only one family camping trip with a trailer but remembers many family boating trips.

Boating was one of her father’s loves and he would take his family on trips to Tulalip Bay, Hat Island and other islands.

“As a family, mostly our memories were of boating vacations,” Powers said. “We went out every weekend.”

Her father owned several wooden boats and continued to take them out on the water until just a few years ago, Powers said. When Baxter was in his late teens and early 20s, he started driving race cars and hydroplanes.

“He would actually win (races),” Powers said. “He had first-, second- and third-place trophies. He did really well.”

City Parks and Recreation Director Jim Ballew said Baxter was fair in his decision-making and grew to be one of the department’s “biggest champions.”

The community center building was named in his honor in the spring of 1997, during his last year as a city councilman.

“When he retired he remained proudly active,” Ballew said. “You’d see him attend city functions where he was always welcomed and embraced by those that knew him.

“He’d come over to the office in Jennings (Park) to say hello.”

Baxter had a boat at Geddes Marina that he just recently sold, Ballew said.

“Both of us shared an affinity of boating,” he said. “We could spend a lot of time talking about what kind of boat we shouldn’t have and where we shouldn’t go. I will miss that.”

Powers said her father enjoyed going to The Flapjack Restaurant for coffee every morning with friends. He was able to fix anything and neighbors who lived near the couple’s second home on Hat Island were well aware of his shed full of every nut and bolt imaginable.

“He would drop everything and help you on a dime,” Powers said. “If anything broke he would fix it … He could do anything.”

Wright said she respected her colleague.

“I think he had a servant’s heart and really loved the community and wanted to serve the community the best he could,” she said.

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; adaybert@heraldnet.com.

Services

The family of Ken Baxter has planned a public viewing from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at the Schaefer-Shipman Funeral Home, 804 State Ave. A memorial service is planned at 1 p.m. Friday at the Marysville Church of the Nazarene, located at 8240 64th St. NE.