Our Bothell and Kenmore communities lost three prominent personalities over the past extended holiday period — Dick Truly, Jack Crawford and Lowell Haynes. The Reporter’s columns have paid tribute to all three.
I’d like to share some special memories of the life of Elmer Lowell (Curly) Haynes, a resident of 63 of incorporated Bothell’s 100 years. More than half of those years he was clearly in the public eye.
Lowell Haynes was one of Bothell’s most respected citizens and public servants — notwithstanding his Norwegian ancestry and his propensity for the practical joke. He was one of those rare individuals who stood his ground in the face of controversy and dissent, but never failed to respect differing opinions, and would agree to disagree when it came right down to making final decisions. This permitted parties with differing views or leanings to move beyond rancor or hostility over unpopular or non-unanimous decisions.
As a longtime city councilman, Lowell voted on scores of ordinances and motions to advance the city. I’d like to recall one piece of legislation where he felt compelled to abstain, however.
A motion was made one night in March to make it a stiff fine to deface Main Street. Police chief Jim McMahon had repeatedly complained that his investigations over the years had failed to turn up a single culprit following St. Patrick’s Day in Bothell. At this historic meeting, McMahon provided the seven council members with irrefutable evidence of a green stripe having been laid down the center of Main all the two city blocks from the five-way state-route 522-527 intersection in town to 102nd Avenue Northeast.
When the vote was taken, it was recorded as five in favor of the extreme penalty, one opposed to the costly fine. Lowell abstained without comment.
The next morning, it was St. Patrick’s Day. A much wider, greener stripe appeared on Main Street when dawn broke. As you followed it up Main Street, it took an abrupt, sharp right turn directly into Bill Shannon’s flower and gift shop.
Chief McMahon could not close the case until he had questioned the usual suspects. Fortified by repeated rumors that had swirled for years, McMahon sought out supposed loyalists and cronies of councilman Haynes, considered one of the city’s most law-abiding civic leaders. When the police chief ordered his Lt. Vern Guy to check out rumored activity at Lowell’s service station, Lowell was discovered busy cleaning brushes and rollers dripping in fresh, green paint. First time he had been caught green-handed. He admitted to a possible trace of Irish blood, but flowing only one day a year. Shannon supposedly was ready to pay any fine, it turned out.
Lowell was deeply involved in plenty of serious and beneficial projects in the community. To name a few:
It was his insistence that the city pursue ownership of the banks of the Sammamish River for today’s Park at Bothell Landing. When the site had been secured he went to work, providing the backbone to stay with application for a footbridge across the Sammamish from the park to the Sammamish trail system. The Corps of Engineers and the state and county environmental watchdogs weren’t so keen on the idea, but the city persisted successfully.
He held a position of listening and studying during years of deliberation over the development of the North Creek Valley. This debate over the present “office park” usage versus a massive regional shopping center required many, many pots of coffee at his landmark Haynes Union 76 five-service-bay station in Bothell. Anyone with an interest in this raging, elongated controversy felt welcome to pull into the station either to register an opinion or get the lowdown on which way the “votes” might go. His was no easy position for an elected official under any circumstance, extremely difficult for someone so accessible to public scrutiny. It was not uncommon to find Lowell checking someone’s oil out front, leaving a cluster of citizens to hold forth in the service bays, gathered around the coffee bar settling or debating issues important to the future of the city. Local football games were closely scrutinized, as well.
As a charter member of the Bothell (later Northshore) Rotary Club, Lowell was supportive of wrestling funds out of the club’s treasury to organize today’s Northshore Scholarship Foundation. The $12,000 seed money 25 years ago led to a program that has provided more than a million dollars in scholarships to 1,200 high-school graduates, seeing the club’s previously guarded bank certificates parlayed into an asset base of more than a million dollars.
I marveled at Lowell’s generosity over the years. When gas sold at the pump for 39 cents a gallon, for instance, it was no small deal that he would write a check for $100 to help buy uniforms for the band or the football team, or to help Candy Costie and Tracy Ruiz find their way to the tryouts for the synchronized swimming gold medal they earned in the Olympics, or put his ad in a printed program to support any number of causes. In the late 1960s, when teenagers were looking for a place to spend free hours more productively, Lowell was among the first to support the Involved Northshore Communities INC Spot, the community’s first drop-in center. Much ado behind the scenes with no expectation of credit or recognition.
In recalling the steady, generous hands of friendship that Lowell Haynes extended to so many over his 85 years, one concludes that what families, communities and our country desperately need today are the strong leadership qualities of a Curly Haynes. He touched so many, many lives with a life built on a personal, unswerving work ethic grounded in common sense, devoted to the common good for the benefit of his community.
John B. Hughes was owner-publisher of the Northshore Citizen from 1961 to 1988 and is active in local nonprofit organizations.