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Former museum docent honored with gift

To honor her late mother, Diane Groeschell of Freeland is matching all admission to the Island County Historical Society Museum during the months of July and August. Her mom, Mary Ellen Puck, was a longtime museum docent who died in 2008. - Ron Newberry photo
To honor her late mother, Diane Groeschell of Freeland is matching all admission to the Island County Historical Society Museum during the months of July and August. Her mom, Mary Ellen Puck, was a longtime museum docent who died in 2008.
— image credit: Ron Newberry photo

When Diane Groeschell looks back at some of the warmest memories of her mother, the list is long and deep.

Mary Ellen Puck was passionate about so many things, including a love of gardening that rubbed off on her daughter. She was enamored by the natural beauty of Whidbey Island, particularly the view from her Teronda West home that she and her husband never grew tired of admiring.

Groeschell also remembers how her mother gushed about her Fridays. For more than a decade, Puck reserved one day a week to spend as a volunteer docent at the Island County Historical Society Museum in Coupeville.

With those thoughts stirring in her head, Groeschell decided recently to honor her mom’s memory by matching all admission fees collected at the museum during the months of July and August. Puck, who succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 83 in 2008, served as a docent for about 14 years at the museum, stopping at around the turn of the century, her daughter estimated.

“I’ve been wanting to do something to honor her memory,” said Groeschell, who lives in Freeland. “I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this out. The museum was the only thing she was truly passionate about outside of family and home.”

Groeschell got the idea after learning that a Coupeville resident sponsored free admission to the museum for the month of April. Jackie Feusier looked at the act as a birthday gift to herself.

Rick Castellano, the museum’s director, said the act caught on, leading to further sponsorships in September, October and November.

“I am really grateful that Jackie pioneered this idea, and that others like Diane are stepping up as well,” he said.

July and August are the museum’s busiest months, meaning Groeschell’s dollar-for-dollar match could translate to thousands of dollars. General admission to the museum is $3 for adults or $2.50 for seniors, students or active duty military and their dependents.

“It’s wonderful,” Castellano said. “This is their museum. It’s good to see people stepping up and supporting it and making sure it’s going to be here for generations to come.”

When Puck started volunteering, the museum was located in the old fire station across Alexander Street that now houses the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce and Firehouse Inn.

Groeschell said her mom dug deep into her role, searching thrift shops for “items that could pass for period clothing.” She researched town history and guided visitors on historic home tours.

“She was very proud of the museum,” Groeschell said.

Groeschell had accepted an award for her father, Edwin Puck, when he was inducted into Everett Community College’s Sports Hall of Fame as a coach after his death in 2007. She also donated her dad’s extensive golf equipment to the college where he coached golf and track and field and was a football assistant coach.

The Pucks, who were married for 61 years, moved to Whidbey Island in 1979. Groeschell retired to Whidbey three years ago.

“It was almost like coming home even though I never lived here before,” she said.

 

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