Longtime resident turns 100

Margaret Quarles celebrated her birthday at her East Mercer Way home last week.

  • Tuesday, March 10, 2015 1:38pm
  • News
Margaret Quarles celebrated her 100th birthday with friends and neighbors on March 4. Quarles

Margaret Quarles celebrated her 100th birthday with friends and neighbors on March 4. Quarles

Margaret Quarles is a true Mercer Island pioneer. Born in 1915, she started vacationing with her family in the wilds of the Island in 1925 when her father bought 10 acres on the slope facing Lake Washington.

She remembers summers spent on the Island, riding horseback, crossing the “old, rickety bridge” to Bellevue and walking to Roanoke dock.

The Island served as a summer getaway from life in Seattle. Her father, Oscar Engstrom, built a permanent house off East Mercer Way in 1955 — the home Mrs. Quarles still lives in, with a caregiver.

She has spent summers or lived on the Island for 90 years.

Mrs. Quarles is beloved by her neighbors, and by her community. The Quarles were honored as the 2006 Citizens of the Year for donating nearly seven acres of their property and rare open space to the city, preserving it for park and recreation purposes.

So neighbors had to do something special for Mrs. Quarles’s centennial celebration on March 4.

They gathered at her home, bringing balloons, appetizers, champagne and a cake with a picture of her face on it from the South-end QFC — her favorite store. In fact, they call Mrs. Quarles the honorary manager there, and gave her a corsage to match her hot pink suit for her birthday.

It’s not easy to find decorations for a 100th birthday. Only two specialty stores carry “Happy 100th” napkins and banners, said Myra Hanover, who has lived next door to Margaret for 35 years.

Neighbors said that she’s always perfectly dressed up, no matter what time you come over. Her hairdresser was at the party, as well as her gardeners.

Beautiful rhododendrons bloom outside her home in the spring, Myra said, and Mrs. Quarles let one of her neighbors take photos with them before her wedding.

Mrs. Quarles still loves where she lives, and enjoys sitting on the dock on summer afternoons, watching the boats go by and looking across the lake at the Seahawks training facility. Ask her neighbors: she’s a huge Hawks fan.

“I should have invited the team to the party,” she said.

All partygoers promised to visit again soon. One even remarked, “see you at your 200th, Margaret,” on her way out the door, which has always been open to neighbors.


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