Lon Slauson, lost in Oso slide, held respect of his fellow workers

OSO — Lon Slauson was getting ready to sell his Steelhead Drive home and move to Montana.

He was counting down the few remaining weeks until he’d be in Big Sky country, said co-worker Brad Nordquist.

Slauson, 60, died in the March 22 mudslide that buried his neighborhood.

“We have a lot of people who are affected by this,” said Nordquist, of Arlington’s Medallion Hotel. “He was an awesome guy. He was super nice, always friendly.”

The two men worked the graveyard shift at the hotel together for more than a year.

Slauson was a security guard and Nordquist manned the front desk. Slauson, who served in the U.S. Army as a young man, watched out for his fellow employees. Nordquist said he often walked people to their cars at night.

Slauson started working security after he retired in 2009 from his career as a cement mason. He joined Western Washington’s Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association Local 528 in 1975 after he left the military. That’s the same union his father, Donald Slauson, belonged to for 60 years. One of Slauson’s two sons, Daniel Slauson, worked as a union apprentice for a couple of years before moving on.

John Kearns, the union’s business manager, started his career as an apprentice in 1978 under Donald Slauson. He worked alongside Lon Slauson for many years.

“Lonny would show up on the job and you’d know you were going to have a good day,” Kearns said. “He always had a big smile on his face.”

Slauson was known to start the work day by snapping his gloves and saying, “Let’s go kick some concrete butt,” Kearns said.

“He was hardworking and strong as a bull,” Kearns said. “He did his job well.”

Over the years, Slauson had a hand in a number of major building projects around Western Washington. He used his talents on Seattle high rises, I-90, area hospitals and Boeing sites.

Because Slauson worked hard for years, he earned the right to be among the first to leave when the job was winding down for the day.

“We would say Lonny had ‘celebrity status,’” Kearns said.

Slauson loved the outdoors. He was an avid hunter and fisherman.

His property along the North Fork Stillaguamish River offered peace and the recreation he so enjoyed.

In 2006, a landslide plugged the river. A dam of debris forced the Stilly to plow a new course into Slauson’s front yard. Kearns said the incident took out Slauson’s septic system, forcing him to rough it for some time.

When the news of Slauson’s death came after the most recent mudslide, Kearns took calls from a number of union members at the Local 528 headquarters.

“He was so well loved here,” Kearns said.

Slauson is survived by his parents, Donald and Mary Slauson, of Elma; sons Ronald and Daniel Slauson; and a daughter, Rachel Catlett. The union that employed three generations of the Slauson family collected donations for the American Red Cross relief effort in Oso.

At the masons’ meeting last week, members observed a moment of silence to honor Slauson.

“The brothers will miss him,” Kearns said. “He was one of those guys everybody knew and loved.”

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com.

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