Mary Parmer was a single mom living in Salishan for 23 years with her 2 daughters, when a neighbor told her she should apply for a job at Wapato Park. She chuckled as she shared how he told her he thought she’d be good as a grounds crew member because she was “tough.”
Following his advice, she went to Wapato to apply and after talking with her for just a few minutes, the supervisor – Smitty – told her to come back tomorrow to start work as a seasonal. That was how Mary’s career with Metro Parks began in March of 1989.
Not long after she began working for the District, Mary was placed in a new custodial group under Chris Peart that was responsible for servicing the Wapato Bathhouse and restrooms, field houses, the restaurant at Point Defiance (which now is leased and managed by Anthony’s) and the old Administration Building at 10 Idaho Street. She said it was discouraging when she first started because she never felt she could remove the filth that had accrued from decades of use from the old buildings that had never undergone major renovation.
Then things began to change. She couldn’t pinpoint an exact time when she realized things had begun to feel different, but she knows that new buildings and park renovations that took place following our Bonds had a significant impact on her perception of the District and the spaces she worked in.
Something Mary – who self-describes as “someone who has spent most of her life cleaning everyone’s toilets” – doubts most people know that she earned a Bachelors in Fine Arts from Pacific Lutheran University. She says she no longer practices art, nor does she practice gardening. What she’s enjoying for the moment is practicing relaxing in her easy-chair. And, boy has she earned it!
For the past several years, Mary was responsible for custodial services at Norpoint and later STAR Center. At approximately 42-thousand and 36-thousand square feet respectively, cleaning the centers is equivalent to cleaning more than 20 average homes – per day, every day. What she looks forward to most is knowing that she will never again have to scour hair-dye from the men’s restroom at Norpoint. Yes, apparently that was not an isolated incident, but one of the routine issues Mary battled in trying to sustain a quality experience for center members.
After a brief hiatus in her easy-chair Mary plans to pull one of her many bikes out of her storage shed and venture out for rides throughout her community.
Of all the changes she’s seen throughout her time at the District, she was most proud that Metro Parks built the Eastside Community Center and continues to make investments in Swan Creek Park. Although she moved away from Salishan many years ago, she understands how important these investments were to the people who live in the community. She said those were projects she didn’t really expect to see it happen and she’s really happy to have watched these changes take place before she retired.
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