By Nancy Covert
When it comes to the Weather—and its impact on everything—Milt Davidson, Steilacoom’s resident weather observer, advises folks to, “be prepared for anything.”
That’s practical advice from a man who’s kept his eye on the weather ever since he became fascinated with the subject of weather.
Ever since he was a youngster growing up in the Town on the Sound, R. Milt Davidson or “Milt” as he’s better known, he’s been interested in how weather works. He’s also a firm believer in “giving back to the community” where he lives.
Tracking the local weather is just one of the ways he gives back to the town.
“I’ve been interested from the time I was a little kid in grade school.”
There was a barometer on the wall, and Milt kept track of the daily readings.
“I almost majored in Meteorology, but the math was too complicated.”
He majored instead in Forestry at the University of Washington; then began a career with the City of Seattle. He retired in 1990 from a 33-year career as a Surveyor.
After he and his wife, Susanne, returned to Town, Milt took on a number of volunteer projects. He also became a weather observer. His monthly weather data has long aided the Town in predicting its monthly and annual power usage plans.
That data, according to Terry Huber, Town of Steilacoom Research and Policy Analyst, “is used for tracking rain data that affects Inflow and Infiltration in the sewer system, as well as to verify customers’ concerns about utility charges, and to confirm with contractors who may claim that adverse weather impacted their work schedules.
Residents can read Milt’s monthly weather observations that are posted on the community’s Lafayette St. Information Kiosk.
Weather data, Milt explains, originally was compiled for a small group of regional observers. Now the data is sent to the national weather collecting office in Colorado.
He says that, although the temperature has been cooler than usual, he’s convinced that the climate is definitely warming.
“There’s less snow here every year.”
A couple of memorable weather events from the past that he recalls include the Jan. 13, 1950 blizzard. It dumped so much snow on the area that Clover Park High School (where Milt attended after graduating from Steilacoom School—old Pioneer) was closed for about three weeks because of a series of weather-related incidents.
Then there was the horrific 1962 Columbus Day windstorm when 100 mph winds knocked down hundreds of trees around the region.
Although he’ll continue to record local weather data, at the April 5 council meeting, Milt said he would not seek re-election.
“I’ve served long enough.’
Milt was appointed in 2002 to fill the un-expired term of Councilmember Paul Menter. In 2004, Milt was elected to a four-year term, and re-elected to a second term. He also served 10 years as a Planning Commissioner.
The past eight years have “been fun,” he continues.
“This has been an excellent council to work with. We’ve worked well together. There’s never been any animosity between us.”
“But it’s time to do something else,” says the man who is well aware of Time. He’s a member of the Mt. Rainier Chapter of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC). The ticking of dozens of clocks around his home is a steady reminder of its passage.
Living in a home in Steilacoom’s historic district, Milt has always been aware of History’s importance. It’s not just because his parents, Clenda and Clyde worked to establish the town’s historical museum association.
It’s not only the Past that he appreciates, though, but also what’s happening now, and his part in that ongoing saga. He would like others living here to appreciate it as well.
“If you’re going to take advantage of living here, then have an interest in what’s going on,” he advises.
While he and Susanne, (who passed away in December) had made plans to travel after his current term expired, he says he’ll still travel. First on the list is a trip to Maine to visit their daughter and son-in-law. Then, he says, he’ll re-immerse himself in preserving and educating others about local history.
Pride of place in the Davidson home is an artifact Clenda once rescued from a trash bin that sparked her local historic preservation efforts. That “inspiration” was an ordinance prohibiting wandering livestock.
In a house filled with more than a century of memories, Milt says, “there’s a lot of family and town history here. I wonder what’s going to happen to it?”