YOUR RAFFLE TICKET CAN WIN THIS POSTER – Throughout the years Georgia Powers sold lots of raffle tickets. In 2006 she offered a chance to win this Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Poster in support of the La Conner library, her son Paul Duran recounts. This poster hung in her Shelter Bay home. – Photo courtesy of Violet Zeug
When Georgia Powers and her late husband, Ray, first moved to La Conner in the 1980s, one of the first things they did was search for the local library.
What they found was more than a building.
They discovered a calling, one that Powers, an avid reader, will continue to embrace even as she relocates to southern California to be near family, having undergone a series of leg surgeries. From more than a thousand miles away, and as she regains strength following those operations, Powers plans to keep her foot in the door, so to speak.
The longtime literacy advocate, who has served on the La Conner Library Foundation board and with Friends of the Library, vows to return for the much-anticipated opening of a new regional library here, a cause she has championed from the outset.
“When they build the new La Conner Library,” she told the Weekly News, “I plan to be there.” That’s welcome news to all, especially those who paid tribute to Powers during an open house in her honor at the La Conner Civic Garden Club on Monday.
“She has long supported the need for a new library,” stresses Foundation Director Susan Macek, “and was instrumental in helping to get the (fundraising) campaign underway by keeping her friends and neighbors in Shelter Bay informed and by encouraging their support.”
Her contacts in Shelter Bay have been extensive, from those she met on its tennis courts and calling bingo at the clubhouse to service on countless committees to a stint as president of the community’s board of directors.
But despite having a plate filled with civic activity, Powers never lost her appetite for promoting the library.
“I could always count on Georgia to help out at our events,” Macek recalls, “and especially with selling raffle tickets!”
Powers’s ability to hawk those raffle tickets each year, never being shy about hailing down either locals or tourists, bordered on legendary.
“I loved doing that,” she says, reflecting on a brand of salesmanship that didn’t go unnoticed. “She worked tirelessly selling raffle tickets for the framed Tulip Festival poster,” says now-retired La Conner Regional Library Director Joy Neal. “That was the big fundraiser in the years before the thrift shop. Anyone working with her didn’t have to worry about people walking past. She made sure to grab anyone and sell them a ticket.
“If they hesitated,” Neal remembers, “she would say ‘it’s for the library,’ and they would put down their money because you couldn’t argue with that.”
More recently, Powers had taken her ability to close sales to the library’s Morris Street thrift shop.
“I’ve really enjoyed working there,” Powers says.
Many years before, Powers herself had been sold on La Conner.
She and Ray were here visiting Powers’s brother, who then resided at the Rockside Condominiums, when they decided to do some sight-seeing.
“After we crossed the bridge,” says Powers, “we saw the Shelter Bay sign and decided to turn in and snoop around a bit.”
While on that drive they happened to bump into realtor Ola Roald, a Shelter Bay resident. They found his folksy humor and distinct Norwegian accent inviting. Roald showed them various houses and lots.
It wasn’t long before the couple settled into their two-story house, which became Ray’s pride and joy, providing him and his wife an opportunity to landscape and chat with neighbors like Scott and Susan Novak.
When Ray passed away three years ago, the Novaks maintained their close friendship with Powers – and a sense of admiration for her selfless devotion to worthy causes.
“She has always been involved in the community in a positive way,” Susan Novak notes.
“Georgia is a gem. She’s a rare find. If ever anybody has demonstrated their love of community, it’s her.”
Powers’s family, many arriving from California, gathered last week for one final Thanksgiving celebration at her Shelter Bay home before it goes on the market sometime after the first of the year.
“I’ve made many wonderful friends here,” says Powers, who was thrilled having the opportunity to see them again at the Garden Club before setting out for Santa Monica on Tuesday.
Macek probably said it best for all.
“The Foundation board will miss her voice and participation,” she says of Powers. “and I will miss my conversations and visits with her.”