Friends note mark Williams is still making on Poulsbo

POULSBO — Muriel Williams has seen and recorded a great deal of Little Norway’s history.

But it was she, herself, making history this week.

On Sept. 24, dozens of community members honored Williams’ long-standing service on the Poulsbo/North Kitsap Historical Society Board of Directors. A founding member of the group, she recently announced she’d retire her position to allow someone younger to take up the reins.

In an event filled with old friends, hugs and lots of laughter, community members said Williams’ contribution to the community has reached far and wide.

Local attorney and municipal court judge Jeff Tolman said he’s worked with Williams since the historical society was incorporated in 1991. He said her dedication to the city as a whole is what he sees as her motivation for supporting the historical society.

“Muriel is a very unique person in this city. Every city needs a watchdog,” Tolman said. “Her other fame in the community, though, is she really realizes this city has a unique history... She saw this was a unique situation that really needed to be captured as best we can.”

Williams served as the secretary for the historical society from 1991 to 2001 and still acts as social secretary. But more than that, society members say she’s an amazing source of local history herself.

“She remembers so many names from the past. Sometimes I can’t remember who I met yesterday,” said former mayor Mitch Mitchusson, who first met Williams 28 years ago.

Mitchusson said Williams’ husband Cliff had also been quite a local history expert. Williams wore a pair of opal earrings Wednesday in memory of her husband, saying she thought it was appropriate that he be there, too.

Besides her work with the historical society, well-wishers noted her constant attendance at city council meetings, her quiet, behind the scenes work at her church, her work with the local library and even her willingness to speak her mind on any subject.

“She’s a sharp gal,” commented historical society member Archie Lien. “And another thing is she’s the best letter to the editor writer in the county.”

“I’ve never known another woman who could tell it like it is without pulling any punches and it’s good to know we have Muriel to do that,” said Helen Karas, a friend of Williams’ from Vinland Lutheran Church.

“I’ve never known anyone who could punch like Muriel,” quipped City Councilman Ed Stern following Karas’ remark, evoking laughter from the crowd.

Williams said though she’s retiring from the historical society board, she will continue to be active in the historical society and all of her other community activities. She said she was grateful but humbled by the reception. But in true Muriel fashion, she didn’t hesitate to challenge everyone who came to her party to make sure the fight to save Poulsbo’s history continues.

“I’m old. I’m history. You’re young and you’re the future and that’s the way it is,” she commented to the crowd.

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