Happy to Help Others
By Dana Chrysler
Everett Community College Alumni Outreach Specialist
Ed Morrow is a busy man. No matter that he retired from his career as a school principal in 1982 — it was no excuse for Ed to rest on his laurels.
“I’m a worker and I like to work,” he said.
Ed learned early on that a life of work and helping others brings great rewards. Raised by a single mother, Ed and his brother, Bob, knew their chances of attending college were slim unless they worked to pay their way.
A 1952 graduate of Everett High School, Ed worked several jobs in the Everett area to afford tuition at Everett Junior College (now Everett Community College or EvCC).
“I worked at the ice plant in Everett for about nine years,” he recalled. “I made ice and then we would put it in the ice house and we’d put it into the back of a truck and load it into ice freight cars. It was a different era,” he said.
Ed enrolled in classes at EvCC with the goal of becoming a dentist.
“Within weeks, after taking some science courses, I decided I didn’t want to be a dentist!” he laughed. “My mother was a teacher and I like people, so I decided I’d better be a teacher.”
Ed also excelled in basketball and was a first-string player for the EvCC basketball team.
“I consider my experiences at EvCC as life shaping,” Ed said. “It opened up so many doors for me in my ability and access to jobs in education. It also enabled me the opportunity to help others during my 14 years of elected public service.”
After graduating from EvCC in 1954, Ed continued his education at Western Washington University (WWU) in Bellingham, graduating with a bachelor of arts in education in 1956. He returned to the Everett area and began teaching school at Whittier Elementary School, which is next door to EvCC's main campus. During his tenure at Whittier, Ed also pursued a master’s degree at WWU, graduating in 1959.
“That gave me the opportunity to be a school principal, which was always my goal,” he recounted. “I wanted to be a school principal because, if you do it right, you can change a lot of people’s lives.”
Ed reveled in teaching at Whittier and showed a particularly strong talent for managing the student teachers assigned to his classroom.
“I think (WWU) liked what I was doing, so they asked me to supervise teachers at the university,” he said. “I thought it would be interesting, so I did that for a year after teaching at Whittier for five years.”
After honing his skills supervising student teachers, Ed was ready for the position he’d wanted all along: elementary school principal. From 1962 to 1983, Ed was a principal for six schools in Everett: Roosevelt Elementary, Garfield Elementary, Jefferson School, Eisenhower Middle School, Monroe Elementary and Woodside Elementary.
When asked to sum up his career with the Everett School District, Ed simply says, “I loved every minute of it.”
Ed explained the rewards of being a school principal:
“The mission is to educate children and see that they get a good education. Teachers need to be professional, they need to be smart, and, if they’re not, it’s the responsibility of the principal in many ways to educate them so they can get there. It’s a kind of helping thing,” he said.
The “helping thing” has been a mainstay of Ed’s life.
Taking advantage of an early state retirement, Ed left the school district in 1982, with no intent of slowing down.
“I finished school business and thought I’d better do something important,” he explained.
He set his sights on running for a seat on the Everett City Council.
“I followed politics pretty closely and I thought that would be a good place where I could help people if they’re having problems that deal with city finances and things like that.”
Having married his wife, Betty, in 1969, Ed had a partner and campaign manager extraordinaire. Well known in the Everett area and as a long-time faculty member of the EvCC Adult Basic Education Department, Betty’s indomitable spirit, paired with Ed’s passion for service, helped propel him to success.
“Running for office isn’t an easy task,” Ed remembered, “but we raised enough money to run. Betty was very good, she was always supportive, and she helped with fundraisers.”
Elected to the city council in 1983, Ed ended up serving two four-year terms.
“You just kind of see things and you want to change them. But you can’t get too adamant about things, you can’t step over your bounds and create disharmony; you’ve got to learn to work together with people,” he reflected.
But Ed wasn’t finished yet. He still had a lot of passion in him, so, in 1992, he again ran for public office, this time as an Everett port commissioner. He was elected to the port commission and served one term, stepping down in 1998.
“I’ve always believed that two terms is enough for anybody running for office,” he said. “People get in office and they stay too long.”
Besides Ed’s contributions to the Everett community in the way of paid positions, there is one contribution that will remain most notable.
In 2002, after living in an historic 1914 home on the corner of 22nd and Colby, Ed and Betty decided to move.
“We loved the house and knew that if we sold it, it would be made into an apartment because of its location. That’s what someone would do,” he said, “they’d ruin it.”
Ed and Betty didn’t want to see the great historic home ruined, so they made a decision.
“We decided we would give it to the city,” Ed said, smiling.
The home, known as the “historic Van Valey house,” is on the Everett Historic Register. Over the years, it has served several functions, including American Red Cross headquarters. Today, the house is managed by the Everett Parks Department and is available for public functions, including weddings.
“Every time we drive by, we’re very pleased,” said Ed. “I say a little prayer because I’m so happy they have it.”
In 1967, Ed took a class that ignited his love of wood carving. His Santa Claus creations have been featured more than once in The Herald and continue to bring satisfaction.
“I still carve every night—a lot of Christmas ornaments and other things,” he said.
Looking back on a life spent helping others, Ed continues to find the rewards.
“I’m just to the place in life where I’m really happy and content,” he said thoughtfully. “Everything seemed to work out so nicely for me.”
Ed Morrow is also featured on the Voices of EvCC including a link to an audio interview in 2010.