Arlington arts advocate honored for 20 years of service

The Stillaguamish Senior Center has given its Lifetime Achievement Award to Virginia Hatch.

Virginia Hatch has dedicated 20 years to volunteer work in Arlington. (Stillaguamish Senior Center)

Virginia Hatch has dedicated 20 years to volunteer work in Arlington. (Stillaguamish Senior Center)

ARLINGTON — Virginia Hatch has dedicated the past 20 years to volunteer work in Arlington.

She helped form the Arlington Arts Council, which has installed dozens of public art pieces throughout town. This year, Hatch received the Stillaguamish Senior Center Lifetime Achievement Award.

Hatch grew up in Louisiana, and went to school at what is now Southern State University in Arkansas. She worked as a librarian at the Boys Club, where she met her husband, Jim Hatch. He was drafted into the Army and stationed at Fort Lewis, now Joint Base Lewis-McChord, from 1967 until 1969.

The Hatch family stayed in Washington, and in 1998 moved to Arlington. Jim Hatch got a job at Camp Fire Snohomish County, while Virginia Hatch retired and started “having fun,” she said.

“We weren’t going to be strangers in our own community,” she said. “If we were going to live here we were going to get involved.”

She’s been a part of many clubs, including the Arlington Kiwanis Club, Friends of the Arlington Library and Hands Together.

Hatch became especially invested when Arlington turned 100. She co-chaired the centennial committee, which worked to bring art into the city. They started by putting a gallery in the library, painting murals on Olympic Avenue hill and placing the gazebo in Legion Park. Once the year-long celebration was over, Hatch and the others didn’t want it to end.

“We looked at each other and said, ‘Dang, that was fun. We’re not quitting.’ So we formed an arts council,” she said.

Since 2004, the group has focused on placing sculptures and paintings near the Centennial Trail. There are more than 30 pieces. One is for Hatch’s husband.

He died in 2005, and that year Hatch donated a sculpture in remembrance, called “Dedicated to the Beauty of Earth.” It’s near Fourth Street.

While Hatch has slowed down over the years, she’s still invested in the arts and working on projects. One of those is sprucing up the benches around town.

Each year, there’s a haiku contest during the Stillaguamish-Arlington Eagle Festival. The plan is to carve some winning haiku into the seating at Terrace Park. Hatch hopes for other benches around town to be covered in mosaic tiles.

Hatch isn’t an artist, but appreciates creativity, she said.

She’s particularly proud of one project at Pioneer Cemetery, on N. Gifford Avenue. Harry Yost had taken care of it for 20 years before he died. The only way to tell it was a cemetery was by the single headstone coming out of the ground. It might have gone unmarked for future generations.

“My inner history major stood up and said, ‘Oh my God! You can’t do that!’ ” Hatch said.

She raised enough money for a flag pole and wooden sign, in memory of Yost.

Hatch feels she’s accomplished her goal of becoming part of the community.

“Especially now that my husband is buried here, I’ll be buried here with him,” she said. “This will theoretically be my toes-up town.”

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; Twitter: @stephrdavey.

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