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Farewell, Mercer Island, after 6 years

From my first byline to my last interview, I have had the privilege of meeting people from all walks of life as they have shared their stories and perspectives with me.

It started six years ago with an article titled, “Barcelona band has Mercer Island roots.” When I came to the Mercer Island Reporter in August of 2007, I had just graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in English. I had spent that summer searching and praying for a job like this one.

Early on, feature articles and human-interest stories became my forte, along with my other duties as both office coordinator and reporter.

As I reflect on those stories, memory takes me back to the quaint white house hidden from view along North Mercer Way where I met the first veteran who I would write about, Huston Riley. Mr. Riley, now deceased, was the D-Day soldier in the surf, on Omaha Beach, in Robert Capa’s LIFE magazine photograph.

They were stories of Mercer Islanders’ courage, compassion, sacrifice, creativity, service, and everyday life, both here and abroad.

Veterans included David Beyl, a Navy commander stationed in Antarctica to oversee the recovery effort of crashed military transport planes; Brandon Parks, an Army sergeant who served in Iraq before he became a Los Angeles police officer; Dave Rosen, a Marine who was sent to Somalia; and Roy Mays, a World War II Marine who was stationed on a battleship in the Pacific when the flag was raised on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, which became the inspiration for “Flags Of Our Fathers.”

Military members included Christie Plackis, an Army ROTC cadet at Fort Lewis, and Mercer Island Fire Chief Chris Tubbs’ son, Zach Tubbs, a Marine who served in Afghanistan before being assigned to Camp Pendleton.

John and Polly Lindberg, a delightful couple at Covenant Shores, shared the story of their lifelong romance for a Valentine’s Day article.

Ang Chhiring Sherpa undertook the Seven Summits Expedition to help a Himayalan village.

Fran Call, a retired junior high teacher, was honored as an Island citizen of the year who completed four bicycle trips across the United States and Canada with groups of students in the 1970s. They were known as the Cyclemates.

There were the Lin sisters, Annie and Melissa, Mercer Island students who performed with the Chinese Arts & Music Association.

Dr. Bob Lewis ventured to North Korea with a British tour group.

“Missionary mechanic keeps planes flying for Bible translation” was written about Lloyd Marsden, a Mercer Island High School graduate and a longtime missionary in Papua New Guinea.

Robin Schmidt, a former flight attendant, coordinated ‘Mail Call For Our Heroes’ for two Island schools.

Among notable pets who made headlines were Nile, Mindy Stern’s cat who retrieved mail; a lost dog, Kerie, who was reunited with her owner; and Smokey Joe, a stray cat rescued by a grandmother, Ginna Seese.

Kenton Pies, the artist who created the 1965 dragon in Deane’s Children’s Park, was commissioned to design and build a new dragon after Mercer Island city employees tracked him down in Montana.

My last interview was a Q&A with Michael Medved, radio talk show host.

There is not enough room to name everyone, but each person’s story was unique and inspirational in some way.

Saying goodbye is not easy. I am so grateful for my time on Mercer Island. As I journey onward to new adventures, knowing that God has a plan for the future, I have an abundance of wonderful memories. Thank you, Mercer Island, and farewell.

Rebecca Mar can be reached at rebeccaelayne@hotmail.com.

 

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