In this photo from last May, sisters, Georgina “Genie” Paul, 69, left, Marilyn Quincy, 72 and Mary Barrett, 55 share a lighter moment during an interview and photo shoot May 19. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Thank you to those who are making Snohomish County better

A middle school band director. A Civil War veteran’s ancestors. An Everett couple keen on history. A mom who lost a son to addiction. A zany Girl Scout leader. A Mukilteo mayor.

Over the past year, Herald readers have met these and many more remarkable people through this column. One reader sent me an email Sunday to say thanks. He appreciated my articles about Jordan Finley, a young Marine veteran soon to be a father, and Apryl Roberts, an intrepid mom battling a rare type of breast cancer.

Today, I’m saying thanks. I am thankful for work that lets me share compelling stories, and for this newspaper’s loyal readers. I’m especially thankful for all those great subjects — unsung heroes, really. The people I have the privilege to meet are what’s best about my job.

I’m thankful that they briefly invite us into their lives by telling their stories. Here are a few of the engaging people readers have met in recent months:

Emily Cheever: The director of choirs and bands at Everett’s North Middle School, Cheever was grateful to a Seattle couple last spring for donating quality used instruments to the school music program. In her first-period class of seventh-graders, Cheever’s interest in her students and enthusiasm for music were clear. “Music gets them here,” she said in a June column. “It excites them.”

Georgina Paul, Mary Barrett and Marilyn Quincy: Everett sisters Paul and Quincy, and their younger sister, Barrett, from the Tacoma area, spoke about their great-grandfather, William P. Stewart, in a May column about the renaming of Highway 99 in honor of the African-American Civil War veteran. The Legislature passed a measure in March naming State Route 99 the William P. Stewart Memorial Highway. “It was such an honor for our family,” Paul said.

Tina Fish: The leader of Everett’s Girl Scout Daisies Troop 43244, Fish deserves her own scouting badge for being a good sport. In April, 6- and 7-year-olds in her troop threw 70 whipped-cream pies at the leader they call “Miss Tina.” It was a reward for selling 9,020 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. “With my own girls off to college, this keeps me connected,” Fish said.

Ed and Betty Morrow: The retired Everett educators, both in their 80s, were honored in April by the Everett Museum of History for their decades of community involvement. Teachers when they started their careers, the Morrows donated the 1914 Van Valey House to the city of Everett and the downtown Morrow Building to what’s now the Community Foundation of Snohomish County. Betty Morrow spoke at a tribute dinner about their current cause, a local historical museum with a permanent home. “We deserve one,” she said.

Catherine Lee: When Lee, an Everett runner and mom, dashed across the Deception Pass Bridge as part of the Reebok Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage in July, she carried with her about 30 names. Sewn into a blue felt heart, the names were those of recovering or deceased addicts or alcoholics. About seven months earlier, she had lost her son, Corey Lee, 20, to an accidental overdose. Lee and her family are creating a nonprofit, Choices For A Change, to help other families struggling with drug issues — “so that anyone can find help,” she said.

Mayor Jennifer Gregerson: Mukilteo’s mayor, a 1996 Kamiak High School graduate, asked for “a little grace and a little space” after the late July shootings that shattered the calm of her city. In an August column, she talked about how she related to the victims, all 2015 Kamiak graduates, through her memories of being their age. When she found their pictures in a yearbook, she said, “I was thinking of their experiences in high school.”

Cliff and Rosemary Bailey: The Snohomish couple, whose family runs a 103-year-old farm, made a conservation easement agreement late last year to sell development rights on 270 acres of their land to permanently preserve it for agriculture. “It’s really a nice thing for everyone, for the public and the farm,” said Cliff Bailey in a July column.

Their stories are different, but these and other people you meet on these pages have this in common: They are quietly making Snohomish County a stronger, more caring place. Many thanks to them all.

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

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