Everett citizens celebrate the unveiling of the Fisherman's Tribute Statue at the Port of Everett's new Waterfront Center on June 23, 2011.

  • By Margaret Riddle
  • Posted 7/29/2011
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 9888

On June 23, 2011, the Fisherman's Tribute Committee and the Port of Everett unveil a bronze sculpture erected at the Port's new North Marina plaza. The statue honors the contributions made by the men and women of Everett's fishing community: those who fished, built boats, and worked in the canneries.  Speakers at the ceremony include Port of Everett Executive Director John Mohr, Mayor Ray Stephanson, Fisherman's Tribute Group co-founder Kay Zuanich and sculptor Kevin Pettelle of Sultan. The ceremony officially opens the Port's new Waterfront Center at 1205 Craftsman Way. The sculpture has been seven years in the making.

A Fishing Heritage 

Immigrant arrivals to early Everett included Croatian and Scandinavian fisherman who found the city's waterfront to be ideal for commercial fishing.  By the 1940s, the fishing industry, along with boat building and salmon canning, were a healthy part of Everett's economy. Through decades of change, the Port of Everett and the fishing community worked closely in an owner-tenant relationship as docks needed to be built and maintained and changing technology created new demands.  In the 1980s the fishing industry was in decline and as a new century began, only a few fishermen operated from the Everett waterfront.    

When the Port of Everett began plans to redevelop its North Marina in 2004, they removed net sheds that fishermen rented from the Port.  Everett residents Kay Zuanich and Barbara Piercey -- both from fishing families -- began planning ways to honor the city's fishing heritage. They did not want this history to be forgotten. 

Zuanich and Piercey formed the Fisherman's Tribute Committee, whose first project was to collect memories, memorabilia, and photographs. These became the basis for an Arcadia Press book, Everett Fishermen, authored by RaeJean Hasenoehrl and the Everett Fisherman's Tribute Committee. When the book was published in 2007, they held a salmon dinner and announced that sales from the book would go toward making a statue honoring Everett's commercial fishing.  The book's first printing quickly sold out.  Additional money was raised for the statue from individual donors and grants.

Making the Sculpture 

The Tribute Committee looked for the right artist and Kevin Pettelle of Sultan was selected for the job. He worked closely with fishing families to get it right. Fishermen modeled gear, offered suggestions and Pattelle listened.

The result was a larger-than-life bronze statue of a fisherman in old-style rain gear, pulling in a net containing salmon. Pettelle commented to the press that the lead tooler who casted the sculpture, in a foundry near Portland, said that "of the thousands of sculptures he has worked on, this was the best he had seen" (Daily Herald, June 6, 2011).

Waterfront Center 

The unveiling was part of the Port's official opening of Waterfront Center, a commercial mixed-use marine center in the Port's new Craftsman District that houses the Port's administrative offices. The Scuttlebutt Brewing Company restaurant is a part of this complex that includes Fisherman's Tribute Plaza. Today the Pettelle sculpture is a prominent feature at the site. 

Those attending the ceremonies were also invited to tour the Port's new facility. Local historians Lawrence E. O'Donnell and Jack C. O'Donnell, authors of The Evolution of a Vibrant Waterfront: A Story of Sawdust, Salmon and Speedboats, a 2010 Port of Everett publication, and RaeJean Hasenoehrl, author of Everett Fishermen, sold and autographed their books. 

The Unveiling   

A crowd of more than 250 people gathered at Fisherman's Tribute Plaza to see the statue unveiled at 5:30 p.m., June 23, 2011.  The ceremony began with speakers, including Port of Everett Executive Director John Mohr, Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson (once a fisherman), Kevin Pettelle, and Kay Zuanich.  

As sun was beginning to set, the Everett-based fishing boat Iver P Nore could be seen moored in Port Gardner Bay, ready to depart for a summer of fishing in Alaska. 


Sources: Mike Benbow, "Sculpture Celebrates Everett's Commercial Fishermen," The Daily Herald, June 24, 2011, p. A-8; Mike Benbow, "Monument to Everett's Fishing Heritage," Ibid., June 6, 2011, The Daily Herald website accessed June 24, 2011 (http://www.heraldnet.com/); "Fisherman's Tribute Statue Dedicated," The Port of Everett's Port Side, Summer 2011, p. 8; RaeJean Hasenoehrl and the Everett Fisherman's Tribute Group, Everett Fishermen (San Francisco: Arcadia Press, 2008); Lawrence E. and Jack C. O'Donnell, The Evolution of a Vibrant Everett Waterfront: A Story of Sawdust, Salmon and Speedboats (Everett: Port of Everett, 2011), p. 85-100.

Related Topics:   Maritime

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