Ann Averill, former Snohomish mayor,
gave love, progress to city
“Grannie Annie” took no guff, and helped open Future of Flight
SNOHOMISH — Ann
Averill was known in Snohomish for her
political career and efforts for the Snohomish Library and Future of Flight Museum, but to her grandkids, she was “Grannie Annie” who loved to cook, to get things done and enjoy nature.
Her ashes were being scattered in the Snohomish River, where she would go on daily walks via the river
walk trail and up First Street. Averill’s granddaughter, Abbie Vancil, recalled walking with her up First Street, and how she would tell the history of each building or business. Walks that are now cherished memories.
Averill died Oct. 23, a few weeks shy of her 76th
“First thing’s first – my grandpa (Les Averill, Earl Averill’s son) said she loved Snohomish,” Vancil said. “I think one thing that makes that evident is
with how much she traveled, to places like Norway, Spain and the Panama Canal, of all the places, she wanted her ashes spread on the Snohomish River. Grannie loved
this town, she spent most of her life here where she and my grandpa lived at 109
In that house is where they raised their children and grandchildren, since Vancil lived with her beloved grandparents for several years and went off to college at Washington State University. But distance didn’t stop Ann Averill from providing Vancil a week of home-cooked meals during her final exams, as well as a full Thanksgiving meal.
“Grannie and Grandpa
would visit me and my cousin Kylie (Smith), who went to college in Texas, every year to make us Thanksgiving dinner and dinners for finals week,” Vancil said. “One year, Grannie came without my Grandpa
and drove to Pullman by herself, in a blizzard, to come
make dinner! She was so headstrong. My college friends would come over and eat dinner with us, she’d make big meals for all of us. They loved it when Grannie Annie came to visit for finals week.”
Nothing could stop her from making her granddaughters meals while they
were in college, not even when she and Les drove
down to Austin for Kylie Smith’s Thanksgiving week and the apartment oven’s heating element went out.
“Kylie told me when she went to UT (University of Texas at Austin), and her oven element went out and Grannie had a turkey she needed to cook,” Vancil said. “Well, Grannie marched down to the maintenance office and asked that they fix the oven and they said no, because it was Thanksgiving. She told them,
‘I have a 17-pound turkey that needs to go in the oven’ and they still said no…. but that didn’t stop her from
asking Kylie’s next door neighbor to borrow their oven to cook
the turkey — and they let her! Kylie didn’t even know them, but they let Grannie in, gave her a spare key, and she cooked that turkey!”
Averill’s vivacious spirit and ‘get-er-done’ attitude, according to Vancil, affected everyone she met.
It was especially evident in
her career as a Snohomish city councilwoman from 1984 to 1991 and council-elected mayor from 1985 to 1987.
“I think she was way ahead of her time, for being so involved as a woman,
in city council and as mayor in the ‘80s and also a Republican,” Vancil said. “She was a conservative woman in a liberal area, and I thought that was interesting – being in the ‘80s and all.
That was progressive for that time and even today, not very many women are in leadership roles but that is changing and Grannie was part of that, starting back then.”
Vancil said when Averill ran for the House of Representatives, she recalls walking in Snohomish town parades with her signs, handing out candy and marching alongside her strong-willed grandmother.
“She was amazing and it was a neat experience for me as a young
girl,” Vancil said. “I remember being so proud to walk in those parades with her. That was back in the ‘90s and it was a close race, I think she lost by a couple hundred votes. It still shows how determined she was to be a leader for the community and she raised her
kids and grandkids to work and be responsible.”
Vancil recalls Averill teaching her and her cousins how to sew,
how to cook (“she made the best, I mean the best pies and Thanksgiving food”), and how to garden, can vegetables, and make wine from garden fruits, and how to work in some light administrative duties. Averill
did not mind putting her grandkids to work while she was helping to put together the Future of Flight Museum
with founder Barry Smith about 15 years ago.
“When I was 15, she had me working at the Future of Flight museum when it was still a tiny office space on the
Mukilteo Speedway doing some administrative work because she wanted to show me how,” Vancil said. “Then, she made me get another job and it helped me have a good work ethic.”
“Grannie Annie” was a force to be reckoned with, mainly because she liked to get things done, and encouraged her granddaughters to “put on your big girl panties and get it done.”
“She would say that to me and my cousin, all the time, and she set that example, and gave me a sign that says it and it hangs in my office,” Vancil said. “No matter what was going on, just find a way to get it done and don’t complain, that was her philosophy.”
Apart from that, Vancil said Averill was a spiritual person who meditated often and liked to be out in nature. On family roadtrips, she preferred the scenic route to look at the trees. Her walks around Snohomish often meandered
through the back alleys near the
historic district, so she could admire people’s gardens and backyards.
She also loved to shop local in Snohomish, often giving Christmas gifts that were unique and found on First Street. One of her favorite places to eat was Grilla Bites and Pizza Brava. Each week in the spring and summer, she’d go to the Farmers Market to buy fresh flowers for her home.
In her honor, Vancil wants to do the things Averill would have done, and to let people know that
Snohomish is a better place because her Grannie Annie walked among its streets, its gardens, the
river, and helped improve the community with the library.
She also created the Averill Business Center at First and Maple.
“Grannie Annie will continue to live in our hearts, where we will remember her strength, warmth, positive energy, and tenacious spirit,” Vancil wrote in her Grannie’s obituary.
A celebration of Averill’s life will be Sunday, Nov. 12, beginning at 1 p.m., at the Emerald Hills Estate Clubhouse; 14727 43rd Ave. NE in Marysville.
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