Voices of the mill: Joanne Cooper, 55, of Marysville

In this series, we’re telling the stories of what the Kimberly-Clark mill closure means for workers and for Everett, which has been defined by mills for more than a century.

Joanne Cooper was raised in a Scott Paper Co., household, the daughter of a machine tender.

Her father, Ron Hughley, died in 2004. He worked at the mills for more than 40 years.

“My dad was a jokester,” she said. “He used to say, ‘We work our arses off to keep yours clean.’”

As a child, she remembers the company Christmas program at the Everett Civic Auditorium, complete with Santa, elves and a present with her name on it afterward.

Her family connection eventually landed her work there during college. When a planned career in forestry didn’t work out, she found herself employed there, too.

Like many, she held a variety of jobs, including working with chemicals to make paper towels stronger and more absorbent.

By the end, she was helping workers in the paper mill get safety and job training.

She liked working with men, but she noted that even today the mills remain male-dominated. In order to be successful, the few women who worked on that side of the business had to adapt.

“It was challenging,” she said. “It’s not a woman’s world down there.”

For her, the closure of the mills is sad. She doesn’t understand how a company could shut down a mill that’s been profitable for decades.

“It made money when my father was a machine tender until the day we shut it down,” she said.

Now, Cooper is looking toward the future. She thinks she’ll likely go back to school.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Some waited months for jobless benefits, and some wait still

Not all 81,000 cases are resolved, but some people finally received thousands of dollars in back payments.

Updated 2020 primary election results for Snohomish County

Returns for contested races and ballot measures, updated daily as mail-in ballots are counted.

Small hospitals weather the pandemic, but with heavy losses

Another economic shutdown could mean “difficult decisions” for EvergreenHealth Monroe and others.

Marysville sues Arlington over plan for 500 apartments

Marysville worries the major project on 51st Avenue NE will gum up traffic at a nearby intersection.

Everett Memorial Stadium to host COVID-19 test site again

The site provides capacity for 500 tests per day, the Snohomish Health District said.

Man stabbed and dies after parking lot fight near Everett

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office detectives are looking for suspects from the fracas.

Inslee lifts visitation ban at long-term care facilities

Starting Wednesday, a four-phase plan will allow restrictions at nursing homes to gradually be relaxed.

Big new apartment complex anchors Broadway’s transformation

The seven-story, 140-unit Kinect @ Broadway is one of several facelifting projects in Everett’s core.

Police: Man confronts mask-less men with knife and repellent

The suspect was arrested for investigation of two counts of assault and booked into the county jail.

Most Read