FOND SUPPORTER OF SEAHAWKS AND SOROPTIMIST – Marianna Metke had many causes she was passionate about. She was an art lover extraordinaire and generous with her time and donations throughout the La Conner arts community. – Photo courtesy of Karen Marshall
FOND SUPPORTER OF SEAHAWKS AND SOROPTIMIST – Marianna Metke had many causes she was passionate about. She was an art lover extraordinaire and generous with her time and donations throughout the La Conner arts community. – Photo courtesy of Karen Marshall

By Nancy Hinton, compiler

The Soroptimist members of La Conner started sharing remembrances of Marianna Metke among themselves upon hearing word of her death May 24. The following messages provide a glimpse into her life and her commitment to the Soroptimist International La Conner Chapter (SILC). Metke grew up a Sisson, a Skagit Valley pioneer family. She loved La Conner, plants, the arts and her Soroptimist sisters.

Marianna touched me deeply by caring and sharing when my husband got ill. I will remember her always for her care and compassion. She is back reunited with Bob, and I can see her smile and love radiating down on us. – Jan Paul.

Marianna was one of the first people I met when we moved to La Conner. She and Bob were at the La Conner art show (when LC had one) and we visited their booth. They were dressed the same and we found that so charming. – Ellie Baugh.

I recently related to [Marianna] how much it meant to me, in my first year as a Soroptimist, when she and Bob offered to drive me to the end-of-year party at Mary Lou’s. She had forgotten the kind and thoughtful gesture they made, reaching out to a newbie. I suspect she forgot because she made too many kind gestures to remember them all! – Eileen Engelstad.

Marianna was a good boss and a great friend. She was hired as the Sales Manager at Skagit Gardens and she really had a vision for where the industry was going. She organized all of the trucks going to different areas, lining up the shortest routes so the products would stay fresh. She found routes to dealers as far away as Arizona and Saskatchewan. After she retired, we became great friends. We would meet for lunch at the Edison – she loved the oysters – and afterwards, she would always tie in a little visit to Bob’s grave in Bayview. – Hank Schmidt, colleague at Skagit Gardens.

She was the kindest person and always had a smile on that lovely face. The first time I met her and Bob was at the Samish Island art show. They both had on their bright clothes and of course, the most colorful crocs I have ever seen. – Jo Britten.

She so much enjoyed interviewing the new members so that she could introduce them at their Induction ceremony and also write the article for the newsletter. She was always promoting the support of local businesses. Every April, she lobbied for our monthly meeting to be moved because the Tulip Town had Locals Night the second Wednesday evening of April and she wanted all of us to attend. I know Bob shared her love for the flowers of all kinds and they spent time walking through the fields and enjoying the tulips. And I am sure that they are both enjoying the flowers now. – Marilyn Allen.

I left Soroptimists for a few years and upon my return I was greeted by Marianna who had joined the Club during my absence. She was so welcoming and curious about me and my history growing up in the Skagit Valley, a place she so treasured. The meeting was in the cocktail lounge at Seafood & Prime Rib and I don’t remember anything about it other than I spent the evening in the corner visiting with my new friend, a genuine and warm welcoming committee of one. – Maureen Harlan.

I have known Marianna and her family for many years, based on the history of Skagit Valley we shared. When Marianna and Bob retired from the flower industry, they were two very devoted people in their art and service involvement. Bob and Marianna made the men’s department of Vintage the best; taking home items to wash and iron. I remember her excitement when someone donated Tommy Bahama shirts and she could add to Bob’s collection ... . Her love of flowers lasted a lifetime, as well. My last vision was Marianna taking home a bouquet of tulips with a beautiful smile on her face. – Pam Johnson.

I sat with Marianna one year at our June party at Mary Lou’s. She shared her early life story, as did another cherished member, and I reflected on how many lives we women live in one life. Marianna’s gift for words and always an encouraging smile were so genuine and so beautiful because they were truly her. And she seemed to love others for exactly who they were. And that was comforting. I think now she can be truly comforted, and that is a very good thing. – Leslie Smith.

I was always amazed at her poise, sincerity and flawless delivery of the new member introductions at our monthly dinner meetings. Without a note card in sight, she welcomed so many of us to the club with detailed information; like a best friend who had known us all her life. That is a skill that came from a place of deep listening and empathy. My other observation is she never missed an opportunity to hold others up in praise and recognition of a job well done. Her generosity of spirit was a gift to all. – Nancy Hinton.

The Seahawks have lost a huge fan. She loved the Hawks. She and Bob enjoyed their charter season seats at CenturyLink Field. She knew all the players and she knew the game of football. They had a round commercial clothes rack in their garage full of their Seahawk clothing. I remember when she was having a hard time walking very far without having to stop and catch her breath, she told the doctor her symptoms and he asked her if she could walk 50 yards. That is half a football field, she replied. How far can you walk without stopping? the doctor asked. She replied that she could probably make it across the end zone. The doctor realized he was dealing with an avid football fan. – Laurie Lundgren.

Four years ago, during the Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I decided to visit La Conner. We had visited many times and had decided for many, many reasons that we would be retiring here, but where? We were on a serious quest for the right neighborhood and somehow found ourselves parked in front of Marianna’s house. We were sorta lost and were looking at our map. Suddenly Marianna is tapping on our window and offering help. This engaging women takes the time to tell us not only about her neighbor’s house that would be for sale but (with that enthusiasm of hers) why we would like living in Shelter Bay . . . The rest is history. We bought the neighbor’s house and became neighbors with Marianna. – Jill Minch.

What a loss to the community and to her friends and family. From first to last, Marianna paid generous attention to me. She came into my office on a Friday afternoon in August of 2017, maybe two months after I came to La Conner. She did not so much introduce herself as come bearing the gifts of about half-a-dozen contacts she wanted me to make, including the Methodist minister and I seem to remember Meg Holgate and her new FORUM Arts gallery. I saw less of Marianna as her health weakened. She called me up unexpectedly in April to tell me she wanted to give me $1,000 to do good for the business community. I was completely surprised, and honored, too. Her until now anonymous donation became the full-page ad promoting take-out at our still open food establishments ... I find it hard to believe that she is gone, and I will miss her. – Ken Stern

I met Mariana at the Soroptimist Christmas Party in 2015. I was not a member yet. She welcomed me and said I had a face she’d not met. Marianna went out of her way to bring such warmth and kindness to everyone. She would introduce the new members as if she had known them forever . . . She was always cheerful, wore a smile larger than the bridge and radiated in her colorful outfits and Hawaiian shirts. She always spoke so highly of her beloved, Bob . . . May she rest in peace, in Bob’s arms now. – Julie Jones.

Her ability to relate a person’s story without using notes showed me her ability to truly listen and her willingness to learn about others. I know I was very nervous at my first meeting and she took me aside and treated me like a best friend who had known me all her life. I will miss her genuine warmth and bright color of spirit. – Margaret Hilliard.

She surrounded herself with all the colors of happy, from her cheerful clothing, the natural beauty of a brilliant flower garden surrounding a uniquely painted house, her devotion to Bob in life and beyond his passing and her love and joy for others. Always at the ready for an email in praise or eloquent response to something someone else had written, desire to help whenever possible and her great attention to detail about everything. A beautiful soul and spirit has floated through this atmosphere and into the arms once again of her beloved Bob. Peace at last. – Marilynn Olson.