Keeper of Everett’s past to be honored

They’re still at it. An intrepid band of history lovers meets each Tuesday to take stock of treasures they hope will someday have a home in an Everett museum.

One of them, Jack O’Donnell, now has more time to help with the group some have called Everett’s own “monuments men.” O’Donnell, who retired from teaching in 2006, added another layer of retirement in December when he ended his long tenure as writer of The Herald’s “Seems Like Yesterday” column.

The Everett Museum of History, an organization working to preserve a massive collection, will honor the Everett man at a party from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 16 at the Everett Yacht Club. Cost is $20 for the event, which is both a retirement party and fundraiser to help the nonprofit buy software to catalogue its thousands of items.

“Postcards from the Past” is the party theme, a nod to one of O’Donnell’s passions. He’s a collector of vintage postcards, so much so that in 1992 the Everett Public Library published his book “Everett, Washington: A Picture Post Card History,” coinciding with the city’s centennial the following year.

Kim David, volunteer coordinator for the Everett Museum of History, is part of the group that meets weekly in the basement of Everett’s downtown Culmback Building, where part of the collection is stored. Others who help each Tuesday are Gene Fosheim, the museum’s president, and volunteers Dave Ramstad, Neil Anderson, Bob Mayer and Bob Bonner.

O’Donnell will be introduced at the party by his brother, Larry O’Donnell, an Everett School District retiree who shares a love for local history. Barbara George, executive director of the Everett Museum of History, said the O’Donnells are generous in “lending their expertise to the cause, and entertaining us in the process.”

David said Jack O’Donnell will talk about some of his interests. “Postcards are one of his many passions,” she said. “He has so many wonderful stories. I’m not a native Washingtonian, let alone an Everett person. I learn so much from him. He is one of our hearts.”

The ultimate goal is a permanent home for the Everett Museum of History, an organization established in 1953 as the Snohomish County Museum and Historical Association.

In the past, it has had public display venues in Everett, first at American Legion Park. The Snohomish County Museum was later on the lower level of Mike Jordan’s dance studio on Rockefeller Avenue, and then in a storefront on Hewitt Avenue. That museum closed in 2007.

In 2011, it lost its storage space in the county’s Carnegie Building. The collection is now stored in three places, the Culmback Building on Colby Avenue, the second floor of Everett Mall, and an Everett storage facility.

What is it all? There is the desk of Everett’s Roland Hartley, governor from 1925 to 1933, and a school bell from the long-gone mining town of Monte Cristo. There are century-old trappings of daily life, dressy clothes to cast-iron toys. In June, old photos from the collection will be on display at Everett’s Schack Art Center. And the new Hampton Inn in Everett has a small showing of the museum’s old pictures.

Amalia Kozloff, of Seattle, is the museum’s curator. She has worked with corporate collections, but is a volunteer with the museum. Kozloff said the group hopes to raise at least $2,000 to buy PastPerfect software, widely used in cataloging and managing museum collections.

Volunteers now keep records of discoveries in spiral notebooks. They have found other records from previous museum staff. “There have been so many changes in leadership. I really want that information in one place where it’s centralized,” Kozloff said.

Today, the O’Donnells, Fosheim and other Everett natives can see an item and know its history. “This is so somebody 30 years from now will have access to that information,” Kozloff said.

The short-term goal is to buy the software, affordable laptop computers, a camera and scanner for the museum. Kozloff said it’s important not only to know what an item is, but how the museum acquired it — the accession process. “We’re trying to do the best we can to record exactly what we have,” she said.

O’Donnell has been a huge help. “Jack just offers so much,” Kozloff said. “He always has a fantastic attitude, and is just a font of knowledge.”

George is glad O’Donnell now has more time for the museum, but said “he’ll never really retire.”

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

Museum event to

honor O’Donnell

The Everett Museum of History will host “Postcards from the Past,” a party in honor of Jack O’Donnell’s retirement, 4:30-7:30 p.m. April 16 at the Everett Yacht Club, 404 14th St., Everett. The event, with appetizers and a no-host bar, is a fundraiser to help the museum buy cataloging software and equipment. Cost is $20. RSVP by calling 425-309-3439 or at http://everett-museum.org/

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