March chosen Pioneer Queen

Shirley March has spent a lifetime devoted to children and community. Years ago, the Auburn woman established a Boy Scout troop for special needs kids, a group that included her oldest son, born with a handicap.

Passing the honor: Vickie Vallier

Shirley March has spent a lifetime devoted to children and community.

Years ago, the Auburn woman established a Boy Scout troop for special needs kids, a group that included her oldest son, born with a handicap.

“It was the greatest experience I ever had,” March said. “It was important to provide something for them.”

March understands and enjoys volunteer and community service and the need to extend a smile, a gentle hand.

Recognizing her compassionate ways, a panel of judges chose March as its Pioneer Queen at a ceremony and reception at the Auburn Senior Activity Center last Thursday. March, a 12-year Auburn resident, will appear in the grand parade in the Auburn Days festival on Aug. 11 and other gatherings.

Auburn Days, formerly Good Ol’ Days, is a diverse community celebration presented by the Auburn Days Committee in partnership with the City of Auburn. The festival of song, dance and art is Aug. 10-12 in the downtown area.

March, 77, was chosen over Nancy Pelland and Leola Beers.

“I was surprised,” March said after receiving the crown from outgoing queen Vickie Vallier. “I don’t know what to say. I’m overwhelmed by the whole idea.”

Born and raised in Minnesota, March has lived in the area for more than 35 years.

She worked as a customer service representative for a Seattle fishing company for several years. She held several other jobs.

March is active with the Auburn Noon Lions Club, serves as a companion to an elderly woman and volunteers as an usher at the Auburn Performing Arts Center and Auburn Avenue Theater.

Twice widowed, she raised six children in her first marriage and three more in her second. She has 18 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren.

Meanwhile, the Auburn Days Committee chose Dick Brugger, the city’s first poet laureate and member of the Striped Water Poets, as Pioneer Spirit and Tommy Swanlund, a community volunteer for more than 45 years, as selected grand marshal.

The committee surprised Brugger with the selection. Brugger was invited to recite a poem at the ceremony.

“Wicked!” Brugger said of the honor.


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