MOUNT VERNON, Wash. – Washington State University Skagit County Master Gardeners have launched a fundraising effort to help restore the memorial significance of Memorial Highway, State Route 536.
In 1931, SR 536 west of Mount Vernon was designated as Memorial Highway to honor Skagit County citizens who gave their lives in World War I. Both sides of the roadway were planted with 180 elm tree to memorialize the Skagit County veterans. Today all but two of the trees have died or been cut down to make way for growth.
Thanks to the dream of LeRoy Anderson, retired owner of Kern’s Funeral Home in Mount Vernon, the efforts and generosity of his daughter Connie LeSourd, and the work of the WSU Skagit County Master Gardeners a new memorial has been installed along the highway. Anderson’s uncle was one of the WWI veterans memorialized.
A stone obtained by Anderson and engraved to again memorialize those lost in the war has been installed in the rose garden of the Master Gardeners’ Display Garden on the grounds of the WSU Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center. The garden is west of the NWREC and faces Memorial Highway. A dedication ceremony is planned for Memorial Day weekend.
“The stone is in place but we still have a great deal of work to do to complete the site, and to raise funds to pay for installation and provide for maintenance,” according to Julie Powell, manager of the demonstration garden. “The stone is nestled in a circular rose arbor and we’re working now to complete the site.”
Powell says the Skagit County Master Gardener Foundation advanced funds for purchase and installation of the arbor, but the circular paving in its center needs to be done. She says the Master Gardeners also would like to install fences in front of the stone for protection and around the rose garden to prevent damage to the monument.
A special fund has been set up within the foundation for those wishing to make a dedicated donation for restoration, maintenance and protection of the memorial. All contributors will be recognized in the program at the dedication on Saturday, May 24. Those contributing $250 or more will receive a certificate of appreciation.
Debra Inglis, interim director of the NWREC says the volunteer display garden is an excellent location for the memorial stone.
“We’re very pleased that the monument can be integrated into the gardens, and that the research center is able to provide this community service,” Inglis says.
For more information on the memorial effort or to make a contribution, contact Skagit County Extension at 360-428-4270 or send a contribution to The Skagit County Master Gardener Foundation, P.O. Box 2801, Mount Vernon, Wash. 98273. Please indicate that you want your donation dedicated to the Memorial Highway memorial.