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Made for each other: Lifetime of involvement continues for Railroad Days marshals Dave and Kathy Battey
The synergy of Dave and Kathy Battey is apparent, and adorable, within minutes of meeting the Snoqualmie couple. Dave schedules things, and Kathy checks his schedule. Dave loves telling stories, and Kathy reminds him of any details he might have forgotten. Dave is always ready to volunteer, and often ends up in a leadership position, while Kathy chooses a supporting role.
They finish each other’s sentences, add emphasis to each other’s stories, and each has to laud the other’s work in the community, since they won’t do it themselves. In short, they are classic Valley stock.
Already, Kathy demurs. “It’s him!” she says, pointing at her husband of 46 years. “He’s the one who gets really involved. I’m more stay-at-home, make sure things get done.”
And immediately, Dave returns, “She backs me 100 percent, and that is excruciatingly important for someone who is involved in things.”
Both of them have been involved in Valley life since moving here in 1975. They moved into the 1920s farmhouse that Dave’s family owned, and started a major remodel, almost at the same time as they joined a community effort to fight the development of a relief airport for SeaTac at Lake Marie.
“Oh, that was a big deal,” Kathy recalled, and to Dave she adds, “and you’ve been involved ever since, with the city.”
It was the first of many civic projects the Batteys were involved in. Dave, who was born in the former Weyerhauser mill town Snoqualmie Falls, had his example set by uncles, Stewart and George Swenson. George Swenson was a community activist until his death in 1991, and was known as a behind-the-scenes mover and shaker, dedicated to protecting the city from flooding and economic stagnation. He is the namesake of Swenson Drive on Snoqualmie Ridge, a property he favored annexing for its potential for the city’s growth, and he is the reason that Dave, at 36 and working for Pacific Northwest Bell in Seattle, decided to join the Chamber of Commerce here.
“You owe payback for being in this wonderful environment,” he said, “and, you know, the Christian aspect is you need to leave the world in better shape than when you came.”
Over the years, Dave has served as Snoqualmie co-chair for the centennial of Snoqualmie, North Bend and the state, served on the Snoqualmie Planning Commission through the planning of Phase 1 on Snoqualmie Ridge. He’s also followed his passion for history into projects like the preservation and management of the 460-acre historic Meadowbrook Farm, writing a weekly history column for a former Snoqualmie newspaper for seven years, and becoming the unofficial but de facto historian for the city and surrounding area.
Whenever visitors come to the area looking for some historical background, business owners, Chamber of Commerce members and city officials all know to send them to Dave.
“Usually, it’s the mayors,” Dave says.
He’s happy to share the history with anyone who asks. Point to a building downtown and ask Dave for its story. Ask about his recurring appearance on Japanese television during “Twin Peaks” marathons, or anything about the mill town, to which his uncle George delivered fresh milk for years.
“I’ve been interested in history all my life,” Dave said.
Kathy, less interested in history, is as much a community activist and leader in her own spotlight-dodging way.
As she tells it, “I helped with Encompass when they were building their building and doing the pledge drive.”
Dave, on the other hand says that although she wasn’t directly involved with Encompass, then called Children’s Services of the Snoqualmie Valley, “she was kind of the face of Encompass because for six years she was the secretary of the Snoqualmie United Methodist Church” where the Children’s Services offices were located.
Kathy makes no claims to being the face of anything, just to helping out. She was a leader on the capital campaign for Children’s Services to build their own facility, served on the school district’s Instructional Material Committee, and volunteered teaching grade-school children how to read. In the 1990 flood, she and Dave were also Red Cross shelter managers.
She was the driving force behind the Batteys’ decision to become foster parents, but they both have to tell the story. They didn’t want their son to grow up as an only child, Dave explained, so they fostered several children—and several relatives, Kathy added—until a particular 14 year-old joined their family.
“When she came in, she was ours. That was it. “Kathy said.
“Of course, she looks like us far more than the son,” Dave says. “She has my curly hair, or what used to be... and she has freckles and reddish hair—”
“Like I used to have!” Kathy finishes, and they both laugh.
They also got a good laugh when the Railroad Days committee invited the couple to be Grand Marshals for this year’s parade. Not because they weren’t honored, because they were, Dave says, “But we’ve already been Grand Marshals!” Kathy added.
In 1995, they had the honors, and they exhibited the same hard-working, problem-solving community spirit then. They were going to ride in one of Dave’s relatives’ antique car in the parade, Dave said, and Kathy takes over “but when it was time for the parade, it wouldn’t start. So they put us in another car real quick, and we went through in a convertible the first time. Then the car started so we went through at the end of the parade, too!”
• The Railroad Days Grand Parade is 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, in downtown Snoqualmie. Learn more at http://www.railroaddays.com/