Weather cooperates for Muriel Iverson Williams Waterfront Park dedication | Multimedia
May 2, 2011 · Updated 12:32 PM
POULSBO — May 1 was, by all accounts, a day Muriel Iverson Williams would have liked.
It was sunny and warm, and Mayor Becky Erickson said Williams surely had a hand in that. "She has good connections now," Erickson said.
Jerry Erickson, the mayor's husband, handed out daffodils grown on the Erickson farm. One by one, neighbors and relatives responded to the mayor's invitation to share "Muriel stories." "She was a pistol," the mayor said, and someone in the crowd shouted, "She sure was." City Council members Connie Lord and Jeff McGinty told of how they were inspired by the good-government advocate. A grandnephew said his aunt told him that it wasn't enough to care about what was going on in the community — you had to act.
And then, family members, the mayor and Miss Poulsbo Natasha Tucker unveiled the new Muriel Iverson Williams Waterfront Park sign. The sign is significant in itself; this is the new design of signs that all city parks will ultimately get.
In front of the Sons of Norway Lodge, Queen Anna Smallbeck and Princess Stephanie Doornink raised Scandinavian national flags as Leikarringen, or traditional dancers, performed Scandinavian dances on the lawn.
Williams was born Oct. 15, 1916, the granddaughter of Peter Iverson, who founded the Kitsap County Herald and served as mayor. In the 1920s, she and her sister worked for their grandfather and made 25 cents an hour, half of what boys doing the same job earned. She told the Herald in 2002 that, had there been an equal rights movement at the time, "we would have joined it."
Her husband, Clifford, survived the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, and she never missed a Memorial Day celebration. Her meticulous newspaper scrapbooks were a valuable resource during the development of the history book, "The Spirit of Poulsbo." She served on the boards of the Friends of the Library and the Poulsbo Historical Society, and was a longtime member of the Sons of Norway. She frequently wrote letters to the editor on local issues, including the new City Hall, of which she wrote in a 20-word missive, “The monster grows.” She frequently spoke on local issues at Poulsbo City Council meetings.
“She was a constant presence at every council meeting,” said Barb Mitchusson, a Poulsbo native whose late husband, Mitch, was mayor from 1985-99. “When she wasn’t there, the mayor and council would worry, 'Where's Muriel?'.”
She added, “Muriel was feisty, but she was so wise and in a fun way. She cut to the chase on everything — no beating around the bush, but with just the right amount of political correctness.”
In a letter to the editor published after she died, State Transportation Department spokesman Joe Irwin — a Herald reporter and editor from 1997-2007 — wrote that Williams’ frequent letters to the editor were composed on an old-fashioned typewriter, concisely written, “But the point was always, always made ... She could be sweet as fresh krumkake or cold as a Norwegian winter’s night.”
Irwin wrote that Williams taught him the media isn’t and should never be the only watchdog out there. “It’s the role of good citizens, their duty even, to stay apprised of what’s going on around them in their cities and counties, and speak up when they feel things are wrong or unjust. Muriel did just this."