Update: Funeral services for Kenneth M. Cage will take place Wednesday, March 20, starting at 1 p.m. at the Marysville Masonic Lodge #122, 419 Columbia St. Graveside services will be at Marysville Cemetery, followed by a reception at the Marysville Historical Society.
MARYSVILLE – Ken Cage, founder of the Marysville Museum, a Korean War Navy veteran and pillar in the community for decades, died Wednesday.
Cage, 87, had been battling leukemia.
While Cage spent much of his life serving his country and his community in a variety of ways, his legacy is marked most by his relentless commitment to get a new museum built for the city he and his equally driven wife of 65 years, Ethel, call home.
Those in Marysville who knew Cage described him as a civic leader with a keen knowledge of history, a stand-up volunteer involved in numerous organizations, and a team player who eagerly shared credit with other among his successes.
Mayor Jon Nehring called Cage an amazing individual.
“He lived a life of community and public service that contributed to a better life for all those around him,” Nehring said. “Ken will be greatly missed by all of us who had the great pleasure to know him.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Ken’s family during this very difficult time, and we will cherish our great memories with Ken Cage.”
When a young Steve Edin stepped down as president of the Marysville Historical Society in 1999, it was Cage who succeeded him, driving the organization to the next level.
“His vision for the museum will keep Marysville history alive for generations to come,” Edin said. “Ken was a friend and mentor. He will be very missed.”
While Edin was one of the younger pioneers in the group, when Peter Condyles joined the historical society, the high schooler became the youngest active member by a long shot.
“The city of Marysville has lost a historian, a volunteer, a civic leader, and a good man,” Condyles said.
He noted Cage didn’t equate his youth to inexperience and immaturity, but found things that were better suited for hime to do.
“I ended up being the designated ‘ladder climber,’ and if anything ever had to be picked up off the floor you could usually expect it to be my job, but Ken made me feel like those jobs were just as important as building the museum,” said Condyles, who now attends college.
He credited Cage for making him believe in a project that was bigger than any one person in town.
“I’m so thankful he was able to see completed; he was so proud of not only the museum, but of everyone who helped and contributed to its completion,” Condyles said.
JoAnn Donohue added, “Ken, with the loving support of Ethel, was a driving force in our community. He was a dedicated veteran that gave to our country and remained active in the American Legion to the very end….Ken is a remarkable example of how one person can make a difference.”
Cage grew up in Colorado. His dad died when Ken was 5, and his mom struggled raising five kids. The county took over care for the family.
As a result, Cage said he went to 29 schools. He was bullied often for being the new kid, but when he eventually fought while playing basketball in high school, he was banned from the sport.
That was during The Great Depression. Cage said times were tough, but instilled character in him.
The day after he graduated, he went to work in a cattle job with relatives in Colville. It was during a picnic there that he his future wife. Later on, when he was hospitalized after a mishap siphoning gas for his truck, Ethel stopped by for visits.
When he recovered, he enlisted in the Navy and became a gunner’s mate. They kept in touch and were married in 1953.
Cage went to college in Milwaukee, Wisc., to became a mechanical engineer. He was recruited by Boeing and moved out to the Seattle area. He worked on the Minuteman missile and a secret Air Force missile called the Dinosaur, a forerunner to the space shuttles. He worked on a wind tunner program as well.
The Cages then moved north, and he took a job with Black Clawson Co. in Everett for 13 years.
During that time, the couple raised a boy and a girl in Marysville. After working in banking for 10 years, Ethel volunteered at Liberty Elementary and Marysville Middle School before getting hired as a secretary at MMS for 23 years.
Also during that time, Cage got involved with the city. He served on the City Council, followed by the Planning Commission. He also has been involved in the Masons, American Legion, Scottish Rite and National Sojourners.
Cage retired in 1994. He spent a lot of time fishing at first, but since then has been devoted to the museum effort. The society operated a small short-term museum on downtown Third Street for five years while raising money to build the new museum located at 6805 Armar Road near Jennings Park. The Marysville Noon Rotary Club was the major sponsor, donated $250,000 and now use the building for weekly meetings. E&E Lumber donated much of the materials.
Cage stepped down as historical society president last November
Over the past year, Cage was being treated with an experimental drug at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for leukemia.