On March 23, Milwaukie lost longtime community advocate Ed Zumwalt. Ed and I probably disagreed more than we agreed, but I think Ed was unmatched in the commitment he showed to Milwaukie over more than two decades, and I will miss him.
I first met Ed in 2003, when he was helping plan the festivities for Milwaukie's Centennial. I came to learn that planning community events was Ed's forte and passion. Together with then-downtown business owner Jim Bernard, Ed had launched the Milwaukie Farmers Market in 1999. Ed led the annual Milwaukie Daze summer event for many years, scheduled concert series in the Ledding Library in winter and in Scott Park in summer, and was a key part of the team that launched First Fridays. Ed brought a lot of musicians, including some top names like bluesman Robbie Laws, to play in Milwaukie each year.
My next encounter with Ed was not nearly so festive as the Centennial — we were on opposite sides of heated discussions about bringing light rail to Milwaukie. Ed was adamantly opposed to light rail, having been involved in helping defeat an earlier plan in the late 1990s. In the mid-to-late 2000s, Ed testified against what eventually became the Orange Line at every turn and wrote many letters and op-ed pieces in this paper.
Those years were toxic times in Milwaukie, but a few years later we developed a cordial working relationship when I began serving with Ed on the Board of Celebrate Milwaukie, Inc., the parent organization of the farmers market. During that time, I heard a few stories from Ed about his years as a traveling salesman, but reading his online obituary (stehnfuneralhomes.com/obituary/Edward-Zumwalt) made me regret I hadn't heard more stories from his youth and his days in the Navy. I suspect Ed was always a bit of a rabble-rouser.
In the past few years, Ed's seemingly endless store of energy did ebb, and he stepped back from CMI and some of his other activities. But he was on hand to help celebrate the market's 20th anniversary in July 2018, and that year also marked 50 years since he had settled in Milwaukie with his family.
Most importantly, Ed was able to be on hand this January for the dedication of the new Ledding Library — something he had advocated for over two decades. Given his longstanding devotion to the library, it is no surprise that the Zumwalt family has designated the Ledding Library Foundation to receive donations in lieu of flowers. If you valued Ed and his dedication to our community, I hope you'll join me in making a contribution in his memory at leddinglibraryofmilwaukiefoundation.com.
Lisa Batey is a Milwaukie city councilor.
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