Mukilteo’s Pioneer of the Year: Sharon (Bridget) Waddell Freeman

By Ann and John Collier, Mukilteo Historical Society | Aug 08, 2018

Sharon Waddell Freeman not only grew up in Mukilteo - she also worked for the city of Mukilteo for 24 years, which she says were some of the best years of her life.

Sharon’s family history in Mukilteo goes back to her grandparents, Ida and Robert Cogburn, who came here from Arkansas in 1904.  Accompanying them was 4-year-old Orpha “Orphie” Teenor Cogburn, who would become Sharon’s mother.

Grandpa Cogburn worked as a railroad detective and a fisherman, so the family settled on 2nd Street, close to both water and the railroad, where they raised their three children.

When she was 18, Orphie married Daniel Joseph McCormick, who worked at the Crown Lumber mill. Orphie soon produced a son, but the father died in the 1918 flu epidemic before the child was born. Daniel was buried in Mukilteo’s Pioneer Cemetery.

Orphie then married William K. “Billy” Waddell, an older man who also worked for the Crown Lumber Company.

Orphie and Billy had five more children, including Sharon who was born in 1939.

Billy was 64 when Sharon was born, so she remembers that it almost seemed like two separate families, with a sibling age range of 20 years. Her father died in 1955 when she was 16.

Sharon lived on 2nd Street as she grew up, attending Rosehill and then Everett High School, when she lived on Mukilteo Lane.

She has many stories of the close-knit Mukilteo community and how people had to rely on each other.

Among Sharon’s favorite memories are swimming at the beach near McConnell’s Boat House, where the Silver Cloud Inn is now.

In winter, 2nd Street was a great sledding area. Sharon’s older sister Dorothy (Dot) had restaurants in Clearview, Marysville, and Mt. Vernon, and Sharon often helped in the restaurants.

In 1956 when she was 17, Sharon married Jess Van Jordan, at the time with the Mukilteo water rescue headquarters. Jess was in the military so they raised their three children, Perry, Michael, and Michelle, in several places: Germany, France, Texas, South Carolina, and Kansas.

The marriage ended in divorce in 1965 and Sharon returned with her children to Mukilteo.  She lived with Orphie on the Speedway and then with her sister Dot at 901 4th Street, and she worked at Taylor’s Landing.

There, she sold ice cream and worms (making sure she kept the orders straight), and eventually became a bartender and waitress.

Sharon married John Leroy Freeman in 1966 and moved back to Kansas, where a daughter, Juanita, was born.

The family then returned to Mukilteo, 1974 to 1978, living in a house at 4th and Loveland. During this time, Sharon worked at Heland Inc., a glass plant at Paine Field. Sharon and John lived in Texas, 1978 to 1983, and then moved back to be near family in Mukilteo.

Sharon started working for the city of Mukilteo, serving in a number of roles at the front desk, in accounts, as Deputy Clerk, and as Community Development Administrator.

When she retired in 2007, she reflected on how important customer service was in all those positions with city government.

Sharon remembers the time when she was called to the counter to help a customer who was very unhappy about the length of time his building permit was taking.

On the day his permit was finally issued, he jumped the counter and kissed her! She says the name will remain in her memory only - today, of course, he might well be put in jail!

Sharon and John Freeman have been married 52 years and have lived in their house in Everett 33 years. She loves to bake, and is widely known for her excellent cookies.

Sharon will be guest of honor at the MHS meeting at Rosehill on Thursday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m..  Come to hear her memories of growing up in Mukilteo, as well as her return to serve the city for 24 more years.

She will ride in the Lighthouse Festival parade on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 10:30 a.m.

Plan now to join the contingent of MHS members, as well as Sharon’s family members, as we represent MHS in the parade.

There will be a reception that afternoon at 3 p.m. on the Lighthouse grounds, honoring Sharon as Pioneer of the Year, as well as the 2018 Citizen of the Year, Dr. Nhi Pham.

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