Sultan seeks to save deteriorating mural that memorializes firefighters

SULTAN — Volunteers here are working to save a mural that memorializes the city’s firefighters.

Donna Murphy is spearheading an effort to preserve the mural painted by well-known Monroe artist David Hose on the south side of the Sultan Post Office.

“It’s close to everybody’s heart and soul here in Sultan,” Murphy said.

People started raising $12,000 to commission the mural after Sultan’s centennial celebration in 2005. But it hasn’t weathered the elements well, Murphy said.

Now, volunteers are raising money to blow up a high resolution photo that was taken by Ray Coleman before the mural started to age. The photo will be put on a covered vinyl sign to go over the existing mural.

“It’ll be just as beautiful as the real deal,” Murphy said.

Steve Boek, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Sultan, owns the sign company that will be doing the work. He said he hasn’t had a chance to firm up costs for the project but he expects it to be less than the price of the original mural.

“I think they’ll be surprised at how little it costs,” Boek said.

Hose completed the mural in 2008 on the post office building, which previously housed the fire department. He painted the three-panel mural over the garage doors that were used for the fire trucks.

Hose said most of the firefighters in the mural are based on real people. He made up the man who is fixing a tire to make the mural a little more interesting, he said. The boy in the Cub Scout uniform also is fictitious.

The mural includes firefighter Dan Lohr, who was killed in the line of duty in 1986.

The other firefighters are Genevieve Jelinek, John Van Trojen, Andrew McLaurin and Ron Bertholf.

“The mural is part of the history of this community that is so well depicted by David Hose,” said Sultan Fire Chief Merlin Halverson, whose likeness is also on the mural. “It has firefighters from the past and some of us who are still here.”

Former fire chiefs on the mural are Roger Knowlton, Louie Jelinek and Deputy Chief Ken Hopkins. Louie’s wife, Doris Jelinek, also is on the mural.

Two of the three dogs in the mural are based on actual animals, including Andrew “Cool” and Max.

Max’s owner told Hose that the German shorthaired pointer used to steal zucchini from her garden. So he painted a bowl of zucchini in front of Max in the mural.

There’s a story behind almost every detail of the mural. Hose said he gave the memorial such careful attention to give it meaning to the people of Sultan.

Hose has painted about 30 murals in Snohomish County public places during the past decade. He particularly enjoys painting memorials, such as the one for the Sultan firefighters.

“I’d be happy to keep working until I fall off my ladder,” Hose, 70, said. “At least I’ll have a smile on my face when I hit the cement.”

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @AmyNileReports.

Help out

Donations to mural project can be made to the Sky Valley Arts Council, PO Box 18, Sultan, WA 98294.

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