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Now retiring, Schilaty feels blessed to be part of how Snohomish shaped itself

Doug Ramsay photo

Pam Schilaty poses for a picture at her home in late February.

SNOHOMISH — Pam Schilaty blushed by the tributes given to her last month. Being the center of attention isn’t her thing.
This month, Schilaty exited her post at the Snohomish Chamber of Commerce after a 30-year run. In appreciation, the city declared Feb. 16 as Pam Schilaty Day.
If anyone could tell how Snohomish grew without losing its hometown feel, the 1967 SHS grad is among those with the inside scoop.
The city buoyed from a residential haven to an antique shoppers’ paradise to today’s reputation as a getaway destination.
“I worked with people who made that change (in Snohomish), and that’s been the exciting part,” Schilaty told the Tribune. “It wasn’t me, it was them — all the volunteers, and all of the innovation.”
After receiving a Key to the City, Mayor John Kartak nudged her to say a few words. “I was afraid you would,” Schilaty quipped, before directing all the recognition on colleagues and community-builders present and past.
Schilaty was side-by-side with them. Together with community leaders, Schilaty lent a hand for everything from the annual Easter Parade to the annual fall Car Display. She loves that people who came as kids now are bringing their own children to experience the magic.
Her “partner in crime” was former Chamber president Sue Sullivan, whom Schilaty became best friends with in 1988.
Sullivan and Schilaty founded the Snohomish Community Coordinating Committee 29 years ago, where volunteer Snohomish-based organizations such as the library, school district, Boys & Girls Club, and emergency services like police and fire, meets once a month to share what’s going on in their different arenas. It is a unique collaboration unheard-of in most cities, Schilaty said. “That’s just the way it works in this city,” she said.
Pam Schilaty is the eldest of five siblings. In 1962, her parenys, Ken and Flo, moved their burgeoning family 8 miles west from Monroe to Snohomish.
Her dad was a businessman and civic leader. Together with his brother, Ken ran a DeSoto-Plymouth and Jeep dealership in downtown Monroe, and spent decades in commercial real estate. He led the county’s industrial bureau, a forerunner to a county chamber of commerce, and helped bring Boeing and many other companies to Everett.
Her father gave her some great lessons. A key one, she said, is to always diversify your businesses.
The Chamber, by its nature, connected Schilaty with a group of friends in a diverse range of businesses — movers and shakers who have helped shape Snohomish’s journey.
Among who Schilaty praised: Ray Cook, who’s helped with everything thick and thin; John Hager, who worked on Snohomish’s Main Street Program; the late Colleen Hill, a day care owner who advocated to fix state Route 9; former Mayor Liz Loomis, who helped annex Snohomish northward; Debbie Burton, who, for one, crafted the city’s boom of distilleries and wineries; and Kim Thunder, who’s volunteered for 10 years at the Chamber.
That was just from the top of her head. There are, of course, many more.




Calling all Snohomians
Who’s the oldest Snohomish Panther still around? Maybe it’s your relative? Maybe it’s you? The Tribune wants to find out. Tell us who you think it is: write to P.O. Box 499, Snohomish, WA 98291, email to
or call 360-568-4121.
Watch for the Jan. 25 Tribune to
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