Stilly seniors honor former Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson

ARLINGTON — Margaret Larson would be justified in talking about her lifetime of achievements.

Likely she won’t.

When the Stillaguamish Senior Center presents its Lifetime Achievement Award to the former mayor, the modest Larson, 74, probably will “blame” it all on other people.

A fundraiser for senior center programs, the Lifetime Achievement Breakfast honoring Larson is set for 7:30 a.m. Wednesday at the senior center, 18308 Smokey Point Blvd. Doors open at 7 a.m. Admission is by donation. To reserve a spot, call director Jo Olson at 360-653-4551.

Larson served two terms as the top elected official in Arlington, where she continues to be known as “Mayor Margaret.” Her husband, the late John Larson, served nearly three terms as mayor. That’s a lot of time hanging out at City Hall, Margaret Larson said in 2011 when she announced she would not seek re-election.

At the time, she promised to occasionally attend City Council meetings after her retirement, and indeed she has. She continues to be an advocate of the transfer of development rights program to help save farmland in the Stillaguamish River valley.

Among the city’s accomplishments during Larson’s tenure were the expanded sewer plant, the storm water wetlands project, the rehabilitation of downtown’s Olympic Avenue and a renovated fire hall, along with partnerships with the school district, hospital, arts council and youth groups.

It all resulted in better public facilities and a better quality of life for Arlington, Larson said.

Margaret Halverson grew up near Lake Goodwin with her siblings and their widowed mother. She attended Lakewood Elementary School. In her freshman year at Arlington High School, she contracted tuberculosis and spent time in a sanitorium. Because she missed about a year of school, she now attends both the 1955 and 1956 class reunions of Arlington High School.

She was a student body officer at Arlington High, where she met her husband-to-be, John Larson.

While their two children were growing up, the Larsons were part of just about everything happening in town. For example, she served as chairwoman of the city’s celebration of the state centennial in 1989, an effort that included the construction of the fountain at Centennial Park. She worked with the fire department auxiliary on the Independence Day celebration in town, she served on the Josephine Sunset Home board of directors and she helped start the Arlington Education Foundation.

Margaret Larson retired in 2002 as the finance director for Arlington Public Schools and people encouraged her to run for mayor in 2003.

It was an honor to serve in a labor of love, she said.

“Back in the old days, community meant everything to us and volunteers did it all,” Margaret Larson said. “It’s that way even now in Arlington, and I am so proud of that. It takes everyone to make a community.”

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.

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