Residents thank special Island spirit

Nancy Gould-Hilliard
Around the Island

As you gather around your Thanksgiving tables tomorrow, you’ll likely ask each other to share what you’re most thankful for. So I asked you who gather around this Island to share what you most appreciate about Mercer Isle. You said:

“Walking in the woods with my best friend, Val, and my dog; and my extended family at the South end QFC - the checkers, the meat man, the deli clerks and all of them.” Ruth Ann Biggers

“The small town feel. When I pull up at the four-way stop at ICW and 40th, I can wave hello to lots of friends.” Valerie Giesbrecht

“It’s a great place to raise a family and be raised here, as I was. I could explore the lake and its inlets and outlets in my dinghy as a kid, and now my kids can feel safe growing up here. When you pull off I-90, the pressure seems to just fall away.” Mark Vanderwall

“It’s safe to walk around in the evenings, and even go running at night. And I love the water in the summer.” Elizabeth Celms

“It’s a great place to zip around town and on paths by bike.” Jacob Edel

“The SOV lanes.” Chad Coleman

“It’s a lifetime connection. When I meet people in my job who are from the Island or who grew up here, we have instant rapport.” Amy Gould Burns

“My more than 3,000 friends, as I learned in the recent election.” Patti Darling

“A feeling of genuine connections. A place to put down roots after a lifetime of wandering. A welcoming community.” Bo Darling

“Our parks and trails — even seeing horses on them occasionally. Really, it’s the caring people who are generous with their help and outreach.” Mary Grady

“The best collections of people I’ve ever met are here. I love to try to get inside the packed tavern the night before Thanksgiving to see and listen to all the grown kids who’ve come home again and are meeting with their buddies. They tell me they think of The Roanoke Inn as mom’s old living room.” Dorothy Reeck, Roanoke Inn proprietor

“I’m thankful that after we spend much time, energy and even several elections, on occasion, we come to the right decision and outcome for our city: Pioneer Park, our memorial to veterans, our Mercerdale Park (absent a fire station), our Community Center and a dog leash law in parks used by many citizens. I am confident we will decide to use our priceless waterfront resources at Luther Burbank to establish a sailing instruction program with a “Handkerchief Fleet”...environmentally friendly, no pollution or noise. [It may encourage more] who like to sail around the world as several Mercer Island young men did decades ago from their family dock on east Mercer Island!” Myra Lupton (Ed. note: Dec. 1, volunteers and the City are clearing space in the old gas plant so non-powered crafts may take up residence there in the spring.)

“It's a beautiful island, so green, with friendly people.” First impressions of Mercer Island by Catherine Rodriguez, exchange student from Talca, Chile

“Location, location, location. At the crossroads of Seattle, Bellevue, Issaquah and right on I-90 to anywhere.” Jacqui Yerabek

“The generous spirit and positive outlook about our community from a large majority of the people I come in contact with here every day. I see an overwhelming willingness to lend a hand, provide helpful guidance and donate to worthy endeavors — generosity of ‘time, talent and treasure.’ I also appreciate our great kids and excellent schools.” Blair Rasmussen, MI Boys and Girls Club director

Phil Flash, co-chair of MI Historical Society, says he’s thankful for the warm camaraderie that is characteristic of people who live on an island together. “It has been so from our historical past, with all the community clubs that formed, beginning with Keewaydin Clubhouse, now VFW Hall.”

Islander football die-hards are thankful for their pigskin days, says Phil Emory, MIHS class of 1974. Traditionally, they play several reunion-type games Thanksgiving Day at the high school and surrounding fields, beginning around 10 a.m. Then they head to a local pub for refreshment and replay.

They’ll pay homage to their coaches Friday, Nov. 23, at a special banquet at 6 p.m. — from earliest Milt Yanicks (1961-71) and Dave Enslow (1966 to 1972), to those who followed and especially retiring coach Dick Nicholl (1979-2007). MI Hall of Famers expected to show are Gary Shavey, class of ’93, Chris Nicholl, class of ’91, Sam Davidson, class of ’88, Dale Bathum, class of ’83, Jeff Evans, class of ’80, Bruce Kroon, class of ’80, and Paul Schwabe, class of ’80. Gary Snyder, athletic director for many years, is expected, and Mike Colbrese from WIAA will present a special award to Coach Dick Nicholl.

Mercer Island has a sense of place with defined borders, and we care about each other. Although we often disagree, we usually have decorum in our debate. All ages are prized and welcome. Our diversity is both feared and respected, a sign of true growth. It’s a wonderful place to live.” Judy Clibborn

Happy Thanksgiving one and all!

To contact Nancy Hilliard, e-mail her at

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