Darlene Strotz, 75, is receiving a lifetime achievement award for decades of service in Arlington and Silvana. She lives on her family’s former dairy farm and runs a country feed store there with her grandsons. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Darlene Strotz, 75, is receiving a lifetime achievement award for decades of service in Arlington and Silvana. She lives on her family’s former dairy farm and runs a country feed store there with her grandsons. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Arlington woman awarded for years of service to community

ARLINGTON — Darlene Strotz’ old farmhouse has been remodeled a few times since her years of dairy farming.

Now, she runs the family feed store on the property. There’s a big rec room in the farmhouse, where the ladies from the Silvana Fair gathered last month to sort donations for the annual fundraiser auction. The fair is one of many events Strotz has volunteered with in her 75 years.

For her decades of service and a lifelong commitment to her community, the Stillaguamish Senior Center is honoring Strotz with its annual Lifetime Achievement Award.

Born and raised in Arlington, she married a man who was as dedicated to the community as she, and they stressed the importance of helping others to their four children. Her husband, Roy Strotz, died about five years ago. Now their grandsons help Darlene at Strotz’s Country Feed.

Darlene Strotz has spent countless hours mowing the Little League field she and Roy built for the local teams. That was more than three decades ago, and the league still uses it.

Darlene and Roy took over his parents’ dairy farm in 1962. The Strotz family was the Snohomish County Dairy Family of the year in 1972.

“I didn’t do any of the milking or anything like that,” Darlene Strotz said. “I drove truck a lot for when we were putting up silage and hay, and then I did the bookkeeping and a lot of cooking and canning. I raised a big vegetable garden, and just kept busy with the kids, running them to ball games.”

She volunteered with the school district, too. She gave hearing tests and measles shots.

“I was the one who got the measles,” she said. “And it’s not fun having measles when you’re an adult.”

She worried about the dangers on dairy farms, where her family worked with animals and heavy equipment, so she decided to get trained in emergency medical services. That knowledge led her to become the first woman to join Fire District 19 in Silvana, she said. She was there for 32 years, and also worked at the Arlington Fire Department. Along with emergency medical services, she did blood drives and pancake breakfasts. She also worked to map the district and put up address signs.

“For the last few years, I mostly ran the ambulance,” she said. “I let the young guys fight the fires.”

In 1988, the Strotz family ended their dairy farming. Taking advantage of the federal buyout program, they opened the country feed store. Darlene Strotz is there most weekdays, when she’s not volunteering.

She’s been a dairy 4-H leader for 40 years with the Silvana Lads &Lassies. She has judged at several local fairs, and still is active on the Silvana Fair Board. She runs the inside exhibits, including vegetable, flower, sewing and baking displays. She’s gearing up for this summer’s event.

Strotz has noticed a dwindling number of young volunteers, but she doesn’t blame busy families for being tight on time.

“The problem that I see now is most families, both the husband and the wife have to work, and when they get home they’re taking their kids to soccer and baseball,” she said. “It makes it really hard for ordinary people to get involved in community service. My suggestion is if you have the extra time, volunteer. A lot of organizations need the help.”

The Lifetime Achievement Award came as a surprise, she said. She thought there were a number of more qualified people who have given their time and talents.

“I’m quite humbled,” she said.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

The 12th annual Lifetime Achievement Breakfast starts at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday at 18308 Smokey Point Blvd. Admission is free. Donations are accepted for senior center programs.

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