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Hometown history spurs Mitchusson’s work

POULSBO — In her mind’s eye, Barb Mitchusson can still see Ed Shields’ fleet of fishing boats steaming out of Poulsbo port.

And it’s memories like that she wants to see passed on to the next generation of Little Norway.

“I think the visual part of it is really important,” she said of what first got her interested in the Poulsbo Historical Society. “Much more than written history, it lets people see what it means — what things were like.”

After dedicating nearly 10 years of hard work to the society, Mitchusson will be honored by her peers there at a special event at 9:30 a.m. March 8 at the Poulsbo Sons of Norway. Though she remains an active member, Mitchusson is resigning her seat on the society’s board.

A member since about 1997, Mitchusson most recently served as the historical society president from 2000-2003 and as secretary in 2004. But more than that, said current president Kathy Hogan, Mitchusson has been a driving force behind the group’s accomplishments to date.

“She’s one of those behind the scenes, plant a seed and get it done people,” Hogan said.

Among her work on behalf of Poulsbo’s history have been taking part in a task force that came up with a strategic plan and the first business plan for the non-profit society. Hogan said Mitchusson was almost single-handedly responsible for getting the first architectural drawings for a Poulsbo historical museum, which sparked members’ work in earnest to attempt to finally make the more than 14-year dream a reality.

Hogan added that Mitchusson and society member Roseann Mitchell keep track of all the society’s holdings, as well as its office at city hall. The society regularly accepts priceless family heirlooms for the planned museum but without a museum space, most are kept at storage facilities.

“She can, pretty much off the top of her head, tell you what we’ve got,” Hogan said of Mitchusson.

Besides her myriad of work with for historical society, Mitchusson is also president of the North Kitsap Friends of the Library and a member of the Ne-Si-Ka Garden Club, which her mother helped found in 1949. She’s also been a driving force behind a volunteer effort to keep the Poulsbo Library’s grounds weeded.

Despite tremendous accomplishments for her community, Hogan said Mitchusson rarely acknowledges her own work. Rather, she likes to recognize other people who are involved in the same efforts.

“She’ll beat the drum for the historical society and she’ll beat the drum for the friends of the library, but not for herself,” Hogan said.

Mitchusson was born and raised in Poulsbo. Her parents owned Mason’s Furniture at the Poulsbo Junction and she graduated from North Kitsap High School in 1960, a class with which she’d kept close ties. She worked as a teacher for many years in Aberdeen and Alabama and lived in Korea for a short stint before moving back her home town in 1997. She bought her family home in Lemolo and joined the historical society soon after at the urging of her husband, former Poulsbo Mayor Mitch Mitchusson.

Though she wants to allow new members the chance to serve on the board, Mitchusson said she expects to remain a very active member of the historical museum. She is currently involved in plans for a handful of upcoming fund-raisers and said her greatest joy would be seeing the new museum become a reality.

“I really expect the historical society and museum to continue to succeed because of the generosity of this community,” she commented. “The community gets behind projects that benefit it and we have such a nice, talented group here.”

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