More than 150 people gathered at the Embassy Suites in Lynnwood Sunday afternoon to tell stories and remembrances of Mountlake Terrace civic leader Pat McMahan, who passed away last month at the age of 83.
In addition to members of McMahan’s large extended family and countless friends, a number of public officials from the state, county and local level attended the event. U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell spoke of the many times she watched McMahan advocate for the city before various legislative or private groups. Snohomish County Councilmember Dave Gossett shared how he learned from McMahan how to handle policy issues while both served on the Mountlake Terrace City Council in the early 1990s.
Family members remembered McMahan as a persuasive and tenacious visionary. They shared stories from the various stages of his life, including his efforts to help form Mountlake Terrace city government in the 1950s, his time as a private business owner, his efforts for progressive social issues, and his love for music and sports.
The event had an upbeat, festive tone, with a slide show of photos from throughout McMahan life, live music performed by the Uptown Lowdown Jazz Band, and plenty of socializing among attendees.
Cantwell had worked with McMahan to bring a new library to Mountlake Terrace in the 1980s. “I like to say the people from Mountlake Terrace are the salt of the earth,” Cantwell said Sunday. “What I mean by that is they seem to have their priorities in the right place. Pat was the salt of the earth, but he also had a pinch of pepper in him too.”
Cantwell recognized the impact McMahan had on the development of the city, calling him “the man who built Mountlake Terrace.”
“There would not have been a Mountlake Terrace without Pat McMahan,” she stated. “Pat, we thank you, and you will always, always, always be in our hearts.”
Daughter Terri McMahan told stories of her father’s efforts to bring fire protection service to the community and of his work on social issues. “My dad was an advocate for women and minorities long before it was fashionable,” she explained. “My dad taught me a lot about the poor treatment given to people in this country just because of who they were or what why looked like.”
McMahan remained involved in community issues even in his 80s, actively supporting recent attempts to pass civic center bond issues and helping at the ribbon-cutting of the Mountlake Terrace transit center’s freeway station in 2011. But his failing health limited his mobility in the final stages of his life. “He struggled mightily for months,” his daughter Terri shared.
“But he is at peace now,” she concluded.
— Story and photos by Doug Petrowski