Our Lummi Island Community

Mary Ross

I spent the first 25 years of my life in southern California.  My involvement in Girl Scouting from a young age taught me to value community service and gave me the opportunity to develop my leadership skills.

I attended the University of California Riverside. In college I worked summers teaching boating and sailing at a Girl Scout Camp on Catalina Island. I met my future husband Jim while working at that camp.  I also taught sailing for the campus recreation program at UCR.

After graduating I moved to Great Falls Montana where I began a career as a professional Girl Scout field staff.  In 1980, Jim convinced me that I would be happier living closer to the coast (and him) so I left the Big Sky country behind and moved to Puget Sound.  After 41 years I have to say that he was right.

I returned to school in 1981 and completed a technical training program which led to a 10 year stint as a service technician. During this time Jim and I bought a sailboat, sold our house, and became full time liveaboards in the Everett Marina.

In 1990 I answered an ad for a part time sailing instructor with a company that specialized in teaching women to sail in the Caribbean.  It was a dream job for me.  I was able to keep working my technician job and take paid vacation time to get paid to help teach classes in the British Virgin Islands. I began to more seriously pursue my desire to become a professional sailing instructor by obtaining my US Coast Guard license.

In 1992 Jim and I took a year off from our jobs and sailed our home down the coast to Mexico.  We spent the year exploring the beautiful western coast of Mexico before sailing back to Everett via Hawaii.  Jim went back to his old job, but I never returned to mine. I took a job at a local dive shop and split my time assisting with SCUBA classes, equipment sales, and service as well as teaching occasional sailing classes.

I became a volunteer member of the Port of Everett Liveaboard Policy advisory committee, volunteered with the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance to do environmental education outreach to the Everett boating community.  In 1994 I coordinated the first of what has now become 27 annual Earth Day Marina Clean Up events.  After moving off the boat in 1998 I started teaching for the Seattle Sailing Club while completing my Masters-in-Teaching degree from Seattle University and working in Lake Washington School District.

When Jim and I moved to Lummi Island in 2003, I realized that while I enjoyed working in a classroom with kids my true passion was teaching people how to sail.  I found that I could do both if I became a substitute teacher, In the classroom during most of the school year but able to focus on my sailing business May through September.

Work kept me pretty busy in those days, but I did find time to volunteer for occasional special projects for the Heritage Trust and during the Ferry Lease Crisis I became an active member of PLIC eventually joining their board as it worked to ensure continuation of ferry service to the island and later with the county to establish LIFAC to ensure that the Lummi Island community had more say in regard to decisions about the ferry.  Since retiring from the workforce in 2013 I have found great satisfaction volunteering in my community.

I began to serve as a citizen member of the Heritage Trust’s Community Outreach Committee.  I was invited to join the LICA board in 2014 and served as board president from 2015 – 2018.  After leaving the LICA board I became a Board Member of the Heritage Trust and continue to serve in that capacity.

I continued to volunteer with LICA helping to coordinate the two annual blood drives until the pandemic put that on hold.  I decided to request to rejoin the LICA board in 2021 after the sudden death of Lou Green left a vacancy.

I look forward to continuing to be involved in the good works of both the Heritage Trust and LICA as they strive to preserve the beauty of the island and the spirit and good will of our island community.

Updated: 2021/08/05 @ 12:08 am Tark Henderson

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