Shared smiles, quavering voices: Dedicating the Linda McPherson Community Room

By Julie Titone
Communications and Marketing Manager

Linda McPherson Community Room dedication

Click above for photos and voices from the Linda McPherson Community Room dedication at Darrington Library

When the Darrington Library Community Room was dedicated to Linda McPherson’s memory on Saturday, her spirit was very much present. She was a vivid if unseen force, like the cloud-shrouded Whitehorse Mountain.

On sunny days, the mountain is framed by community room windows that, at Linda’s insistence, are  perfectly positioned to capture the view. She was library manger for 28 years.

“This was her space,” said Catherine Austin, secretary of the Darrington Friends of the Library. “She worked so hard for the library remodel and this room. She fought hard for that view.”

Linda felt it was important for residents of this town in Washington’s North Cascades to have a gathering space. At the dedication, the room overflowed with nearly 100 people. They laughed at shared memories, dabbed at tears. There was inevitable talk of the massive March 22, 2014, landslide that demolished a rural subdivision and killed 43 people west of Darrington. Linda’s body was the first one found.

Her husband, Gary “Mac” McPherson, was among the survivors. He was on hand at the dedication. Speakers included Linda’s sister Sylvia Fusetti-Caldwell, who promised the audience that the magnolia tree that Linda’s son planted outside the window in her honor would not grow so tall it blocked the mountain view.

She recalled Linda’s enthusiasm for reading. “Do you know the ‘World Book of Knowledge’? She was probably 7 when she read that A to Z … Up until shortly before she was killed, she was still reading until 3 in the morning.”

About 30 family members attended the dedication, said Irene Kuntz, also Linda’s sister.

“I know she would be just ecstatic to see the turnout and see the expressions of people that loved her,” Kuntz said.

“She was my go-to sister,” added Kuntz. “If anything came up, it was ‘call Linda.’ And sometimes I still want to call Linda. Things come up.”

plaque honoring Linda McPhersonThe community called on Linda for decades. She was a longtime member of the Darrington School Board. Former board member Peter Selvig said her strength was in keeping the curriculum on track. The fact that she was library manager gave her an advantage when it came to understanding children who “marched down here almost every day” to take advantage of the library’s resources.

“She knew them from almost when they started to walk … until they graduated from high school,” he said.

Asheley Bryson, who took over as library manager this month, was originally hired by Linda. Following in such footsteps is daunting, she said. “But I learned to trust Linda, and she hired me. Here I was this city girl who moved into Darrington, and she gave me a chance. She gave everyone who walked into the library a chance.”

Sno-Isle Libraries Executive Director Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory recalled watching Linda interact with customers.

“One day I was up here and she was chatting with a teenager. She came back over to me and said ‘Sam needs some extra attention right now. Things are really rough at home for him.’ I don’t think that was unusual for Linda. That’s where her heart was.”

Merle Green, former children’s liaison at the library, felt Linda’s presence on Saturday even before the dedication. Her morning began with the sight of two complete rainbows extending “from North Mountain all the way over to Whitehorse Mountain. I just stood there speechless. I’ve lived here 67 years and I’d never seen anything like that.”

 

 


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