MARYSVILLE — Dennis Kendall, who was mayor of Marysville for six and a half years, died Monday. He was 72.
Kendall was elected mayor in 2003 and served until 2010, when he resigned and retired.
He had had a previous career in the photo finishing business, retiring in 2002 as vice president for Crown Photo Systems in Marysville, which has since closed.
He had been in the United States Junior Chamber (the “Jaycees”) when he was in his 30s, said his wife, Susan Kendall, and after his retirement was looking to get more involved politically.
“He just felt it,” Kendall said. “The city should be run like a business.”
There was a mayoral election in 2003, so he ran and won, taking office in December. It was the first time he had run for public office, she said.
“Dennis was a great mayor. He was transformational in many ways in taking the mayor’s office out regionally and enhancing the profile of Marysville,” said Jon Nehring, who replaced Kendall in the mayor’s office.
Kendall oversaw the city during a key period of its growth. During his tenure, the city annexed a large amount of property, increasing its population from 28,370 to 58,040.
He also led the charge to developing more businesses in the city.
“He had a real passion for economic development, bringing in commercial establishments that allowed people to do their shopping and eating in Marysville,” Nehring said.
At the same time Marysville was growing, Kendall was busy promoting the city.
“Dennis and I spent a lot of time together because he had that remarkable but rare attribute in city government, about the understanding and placing value in moving toward regional agreements,” said Bob Drewel, the former Snohomish County Executive.
“His legacy work was making Marysville the best city that he could,” Drewel said.
Bob Bolerjack, the former editorial page editor for The Herald, credited Kendall with building good relationships with the Tulalip Tribes, who were becoming very successful with their new casino.
“As soon as he became mayor, he really turned around the relationship with the Tulalip Tribes. He figuratively built a bridge that exists to this day,” Bolerjack said.
“He understood our history and our future were inextricably bound together,” said Mel Sheldon Jr., who was the Tulalip tribal chairman during part of Kendall’s tenure.
“We were able to develop a dialogue that was inclusive rather than exclusive. We all owe Mayor Kendall our gratitude,” Sheldon said.
Throughout his political career, Kendall was a relentlessly optimistic promoter of his city.
“The best description would be someone full of optimism and joy who was keenly interested in everything and cared about his community,” Nehring said.
“I think I can count on one hand the amount of times I saw Dennis without a smile on his face and laughing,” he said.
He wasn’t always that way.
Born Feb. 27, 1943, in Oregon City, Oregon, Dennis Kendall was one of 16 siblings. He met his future wife while both were working for photo finishing businesses near Portland.
“When we first met he was extremely shy,” Susan Kendall said.
He began to transform into a more public person when he joined the Jaycees, she said.
“That really is the starting point to bringing out his outgoing personality,” she said.
Kendall also taught at the Sno-Isle Tech Skills Center and vocational education through the Marysville School District. He was instrumental in bringing the Boys &Girls Club to Marysville, and was active in Little League, the Strawberry Festival and the Marysville Rotary.
He had Type II diabetes, and when he retired from the mayor’s office in 2010, he had recently lost a brother to the disease.
It was a factor in his decision to step down, even though he wasn’t ill at the time, Susan Kendall said. Instead, he wanted to enjoy retirement.
Last year he fell ill with what was thought to be spinal stenosis, she said. He went through surgeries and physical therapy, but his health rapidly declined.
When he died, doctors determined that he most likely had ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a neurodegenerative disease that also afflicts physicist Stephen Hawking.
The Kendalls celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary March 15.
The day before, a benefit for the family was held at the Cedarcrest Golf Course, with about 200 people in attendance, Susan Kendall said.
Her husband was able to attend for about an hour, and see a lot of friends and people who otherwise wouldn’t have been brought together until he’d died.
He is survived by his wife, Susan, his daughter, Belinda and her husband, Rob Gloyd, his son, James Kendall, grandsons David Gloyd and Devon Kendall, four brothers and three sisters.
A memorial service is scheduled for Monday, March 30 at 11 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 4200 88th St. NE in Marysville. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Marysville Boys &Girls Club, 9502 19th Ave. SE #F, Everett, WA 98208.