Ken Baxter memorialized in Marysville

Firefighters Keoni Brown, left, and Matt Campbell lead the processional for Ken Baxter at the Marysville Church of the Nazarene on March 2. - Kirk Boxleitner
Firefighters Keoni Brown, left, and Matt Campbell lead the processional for Ken Baxter at the Marysville Church of the Nazarene on March 2.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — Marysville said goodbye to Ken Baxter on March 2.

Baxter passed away on Feb. 20, at the age of 83, due to complications from a broken hip.

Baxter’s coffin was marched in and out of the Marysville Church of the Nazarene by firefighters in recognition of his own 31 years as a volunteer firefighter.

Baxter’s surviving daughter Marianne thanked the church and the firefighters for “going overboard” to make her father’s funeral special, while Ken’s youngest son Gary drew laughter from attendees for his tongue-in-cheek recollections of their family.

Noting the number of Ken’s children who were born in November of their respective birth years, Gary Baxter admitted that, “There were some remarks about Valentine’s Day.”

Gary Baxter likewise credited the closeness of their family with instilling in all of Ken’s children a love of boating, and contended that his own love of fast cars is probably owed to his dad as well. Gary recounted how the police had contacted Ken years ago, after connecting a much younger Gary to a series of drag races on Highway 9, which Ken didn’t tell Gary about until years later.

“He never said it, but I think he was a little bit proud of me,” Gary Baker laughed.

Jim Shipman, an occasional member of Ken Baxter’s “Flapjack gang,” described Ken as a man who not only “got along with everybody,” but also made a regular morning practice out of putting away “the most gut-busting pancake plate you can imagine,” but only after coating the entire surface of the pancakes with jam.

“I’ve seen saddle blankets smaller than those pancakes,” said Shipman, who expressed his gratitude to Ken for making him feel welcomed as a fellow volunteer firefighter before stepping down from local fire service himself. “He helped it grow and develop into what’s still one of the best fire departments in Washington state.”

City of Marysville Recreation Coordinator Maryke Burgess, who works out of the Ken Baxter Community Center, managed to fight back her tears until the very end of her remarks about Ken, whom she described as a valuable community resource of information, experience and advice even after the close of his 26 years on the Marysville City Council.

“He was the historian of the group at the Flapjack,” Burgess said. “He was a straight shooter who was always smiling. Even if you got into it with each other, you’d still walk out the door as friends.”

Burgess teased Ken’s widow, Joann, about how independent they were from each other. Burgess recounted how she’d repeatedly tried to get Ken to compliment Joann on her hair, but when Burgess spoke to Joann about it, Joann told her, “I’m not done training Kenny yet. That’s why he’s still with me.”

Former city of Marysville Chief Administrative Officer Mary Swenson, a city employee for more than 32 years, knew Ken Baxter for 35 years.

“Ken loved Public Works,” Swenson said. “He knew where every pipe was buried in this city.”

Swenson remembered how tickled Baxter had been when the city attorney had conferred upon him an honorary degree in “sewology,” for his knowledge of the city’s sewer systems.

“Kenny knew Marysville because he was Marysville,” Swenson said.


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