At home in Everett, Ed and Betty Morrow, both 81, enjoy the company of some of Ed’s lifelike creations last week. The Morrows were honored by the Everett Museum of History for long-time community involvement, plus their efforts to establish a much-needed museum in Everett.

Ed and Betty Morrow anchor efforts to preserve Everett history

Ed and Betty, thank you.

Former Snohomish County Executive Bob Drewel delivered that simple but heartfelt message to a packed banquet room at the Everett Yacht Club. There was no question who was being thanked.

Tuesday evening’s event, presented by the Everett Museum of History, was a tribute to Ed and Betty Morrow. The Morrows, both 81, have devoted their lives to the Everett community.

Along with careers dedicated to education, involvement in local politics, charitable works and incredibly generous gifts of real estate, the Morrows have worked toward the goal of bringing a permanent historical museum to Everett.

Both continue to serve on the Everett Museum of History’s board of trustees. And while the tribute was aimed at recognizing their achievements, it was also a fundraiser to help the cause of a museum that’s been homeless for years. Proceeds from the current fund drive will buy materials, including cameras and laptop computers, for cataloging and preserving the collection, which is stored at several sites in Everett.

“It’s the saddest story,” said Gene Fosheim, president of the museum’s board. “People wonder where we are. We’re in storage. A whole generation of school kids have missed going to an Everett museum.”

It was 2007 when the nonprofit, then called the Museum of Snohomish County History, closed its last display space on Everett’s Hewitt Avenue. There wasn’t enough money to keep the doors open, and storage costs for its vast collection cut into the budget.

“The county has more people than Wyoming. It seems like we should be able to have a first-class museum,” Ed Morrow told The Herald in 2007 when the storefront museum closed. Local history is a passion for the couple. Ed Morrow’s mother was involved when the museum opened in 1954.

In 2002, the Morrows made an outstanding contribution by donating their big American Craftsman home to the city. Known as the Van Valey House, the showplace at 2130 Colby Ave. was built in 1914 for Albert Louis Van Valey, who ran a bottling business.

Everett announced last week that starting Tuesday its monthly Historical Commission meetings will be held in the Van Valey House, which also hosts celebrations and other events. Another remarkable example of the Morrows’ selflessness came in 2010. They transferred ownership of Everett’s Morrow Building, a two-story brick structure at 2823 Rockefeller Ave., to the nonprofit Greater Everett Community Foundation, now the Community Foundation of Snohomish County.

Local historian Larry O’Donnell, the emcee of Tuesday’s tribute, worked with Ed Morrow in the Everett School District. With a big screen, photos and years of memories, O’Donnell presented highlights of the couple’s public service.

They were teachers first. From his first job at Whittier Elementary School, Ed Morrow became a popular principal who served at six Everett schools. Former Everett School District Superintendent Carol Whitehead recalled Morrow sharing a little secret to his success. “He said, ‘Walk fast and people will think you’re doing something really important,’” said Whitehead, remembering when the district opened Woodside Elementary School and Morrow was principal there.

O’Donnell, who also was an Everett schools administrator, said Morrow was his mentor, and a principal who made learning fun.

Betty Morrow worked at Everett Community College from 1967 to 1989. Much of her career was focused on adult literacy. She was involved in the Assistance League of Everett’s Operation School Bell, which provides school clothes to families in need.

She served as president of the Snohomish County Literacy Coalition, the Everett Symphony Association, Open Door Theatre, the Everett Woman’s Book Club and many other organizations, and has been recognized with many awards, among them EvCC Faculty Member of the Year.

Retirement from education brought more time for civic involvement. After retiring in 1982, Ed Morrow served on the Everett City Council. And in 1991, he won an election to join the Port of Everett’s Port Commission. “Ed and I are both recovering politicians,” Drewel quipped.

Ed Morrow hasn’t spent all his time in meetings. Since he was a young man, he has been a wood carver. He has made redwood oars, totem figures, Charlie Brown characters, Santas and hundreds of Christmas ornaments. “Everything he makes is happy,” Betty Morrow said in 2007 when a Herald article featured her husband’s carvings.

Their accomplishments take pages to fill, but something is missing from their wish list — a local historical museum.

“We deserve one,” Betty Morrow said. “We need one.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

How to help

history museum

The Everett Museum of History is raising money for a cataloging project to preserve its collection, which is in storage. The nonprofit also is in search of a permanent home in Everett. Learn more at: https://everett-museum.org

Donations may be sent to: Everett Museum of History, P.O. Box 5556, Everett, WA 98206

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