Image provided by: University of Oregon Libraries; Eugene, OR
About Seaside signal. (Seaside, Or.) 1905-current | View This Issue
4A • December 23, 2016 • Seaside Signal • seasidesignal.com
Nature in the raw
is seldom mild
Larson: A mayor who time,
and Seaside, won’t forget
By Nancy McCarthy
For EO Media Group
easide never really needed a cham-
ber of commerce. All the city needed
was Don Larson.
Mayor Larson, 80, died Dec. 11 fol-
lowing a long battle with cancer. But even
that struggle didn’t damper his enthusi-
asm for the town he loved.
No matter how he was feeling, no
matter what personal or public issues he
was dealing with, Don always greeted ev-
eryone with a broad smile and bright blue
eyes that enveloped the person whose
hand he was shaking.
And there was that laugh. A delight-
ed, raspy laugh that traveled through a
room packed with business operators and
Seaside’s movers and shakers at Friday
morning breakfast gatherings. Anyone
who knew Don knew that laugh.
His chuckles could be heard before
City Council meetings when he joked
with City Manager Mark Winstanley and
personally greeted residents and fellow
councilors. Then he would bang the gavel
to signal that it was time to recite the
salute to the American ﬂ ag and begin the
meeting. It was a ritual he performed as
mayor for 14 years.
Don was a man of humor — he could
make quick quips that eased tense discus-
sions — and he was a man of compassion
who encouraged nervous or emotional
citizens, alone behind the lectern, to
speak from their hearts.
A volunteer on city committees since
1994, he took pride in the accomplish-
ments that a small town like Seaside had
accomplished. We all heard him boast
continually about how residents and city
ofﬁ cials pulled together to achieve the
new library, the skatepark, Broadway
Park remodel, the popular Fourth of July
celebrations and even the city’s trans-
portation system plan, among dozens of
Although he was mayor and the city’s
leader, Don sought little recognition. His
praise went to local students, police ofﬁ -
cers, public works ofﬁ cials, library staff
members, the visitors bureau, Seaside
Civic and Convention Center employ-
ees, the Seaside Rotary and pretty much
everyone who had anything to do with
making Seaside shine. But it was Don
who was named Mayor of the Year by the
League of Oregon Cities in 2009.
Winstanly recently called him a “mar-
“The city of Seaside couldn’t have
been luckier to have him and it’s certainly
a great loss.,” Winstanley said after Don’s
Could be critical
Despite his nearly Pollyannish attitude
toward Seaside, however — or maybe
because of it — Don could be critical of
those who he thought should be paying
more attention to promoting the city. The
SEASIDE SIGNAL/FILE PHOTO
Seaside Mayor Don Larson, right, along with his wife, Lois, second from right, shares
a laugh with Seaside Fire Chief Joey Daniels and girlfriend Jaime Oxley, a ﬁ reﬁ ghter
with the Gearhart Fire Department, about Oxley’s oversized “Chief Daniels” in-
scribed jacket during the 2013 National Night Out celebration at Broadway Park.
Daily Astorian and the Seaside Signal
often received his scrutiny, especially if
he thought Seaside wasn’t receiving its
proper share of headlines.
I remember attending a meeting where
Don was presiding. Although the meeting
topic had nothing to do with the Daily
Astorian’s local coverage, the mayor em-
barked on a mildly rambling tirade about
the lack of attention the newspaper had
been paying to Seaside lately. I had heard
some of those views from him before,
only in private.
Well, as the South County reporter
for the paper, I felt called to action by
his comments, even though they weren’t
directed speciﬁ cally at me. I spent the
next full day going through each paper
for the previous month and writing down
all Seaside-related headlines, including
sports. I mailed the long list of headlines
and story summaries to Don, along with a
tersely worded letter pointing out that the
paper wasn’t meant to be the city’s public
relations organ, and mailed the packet to
The next day, as soon as his mail was
delivered, he called me.
“Nancy,” he said, a bit taken aback. “It
sounds like you’re mad at me.”
He then apologized and mentioned
that he had been out of town for most of
the past month.
The incident was forgotten, and Don
continued to be sincerely friendly.
Respect and joy
Don’s respect for others — no matter
their background — earned their respect
for him. Angela Fairless spearheaded the
skatepark development many years ago
and often attended council meetings to
earnestly urge Don and the council to act
on sensitive issues, including homeless-
ness, police issues and marijuana legal-
ization. She opposed him as a mayoral
candidate in the 2014 election.
“I’ve come to believe that you learn
more about a man’s character when chal-
lenging him than when you work cooper-
atively alongside him,” Fairless posted on
Facebook following Don’s death. “I did
both with this man, and what I learned is
that his character was solid and good.”
When I think of Don, I remember his
joy for life.
I remember his glee at holding a
giant pair of scissors while cutting the
ribbon to open the new library, now to be
known as the Donald E. Larson Library.
I remember him laughing and grunting
while he worked to unroll the artiﬁ cial
turf at Broadway Park, signaling the start
of a long-awaited improvement project.
During Fourth of July parades, he used to
love climbing into “Old Mac,” the Seaside
Fire Department’s antique ﬁ re engine, and
waving to the crowds. At somber cere-
monies, such as the annual Pearl Harbor
commemoration, Don, a retired staff train-
ing ofﬁ cer for the U.S. Army Reserve,
delivered comforting words to veterans.
In 2009, several local volunteers built a
time capsule, a tube 24 inches around and
5 feet long, to contain students’ draw-
ings, newspapers, aerial photos and other
memorabilia in honor of Oregon’s 150th
anniversary. The capsule was unveiled at
the Broadway Park dedication.
Don was pretty happy that day. All
sorts of dignitaries were there, including
former Oregon Gov. Barbara Roberts. It
was a beautiful summer afternoon. After
the ceremony, when no one was looking
(except me with my camera), Don, in a
playful mood, crawled inside the empty,
open capsule. I have a photo of just his
legs hanging out.
If we could only encapsulate the time
we spent with Don, what a good thing that
would be! But we still have our memories
of the example he set for Seaside: Contin-
ue to love it and keep it shining.
Nancy McCarthy is the former editor
of the Seaside Signal and Cannon Beach
Gazette and South County reporter for the
Don Larson remembered for his dedication
ormer boxing champion Muhammad
Ali once said, “Service to others is
the rent you pay for your room here
on Earth.” This quote conjures up memo-
ries of Mayor Don Larson who died Dec.
11 at the age of 80.
Larson, who passed away after a long
battle with cancer, chalked up an impres-
sive record of public service and will be
remembered for his dedication to the City
of Seaside. Larson, however, was not
without controversy and left many people
feeling conﬂ icted. He was stubborn on
some policies and bullied his way trying
to get the ODOT Highway 101 vote to
pass. This then raises the question of
how exactly do we remember him? Do
we gloss over the conﬂ icts or honor his
While I attended his memorial service
on Friday, it became clear that Mayor
Larson would be remembered for his ac-
complishments; his motives were always
to advance the city and soon became one
of Seaside’s most enduring advocates.
Larson was mayor of Seaside from
2002 to 2016. He has been credited for his
dedication to Seaside, to his church, his
family, and to the children of the AWA-
NA youth group. He was instrumental in
putting Seaside on the Tree City map and
active within the League of Oregon Cities,
as well as serving on several committees
and commissions throughout his tenure.
He was a positive force in seeing the
David F. Pero
expansion and renovation of Broadway
Park, including a skate park and boat
ramp. He saw the fulﬁ llment of the new
library, the installation of the lights at the
intersection of Broadway and Columbia
streets, and most recently, the renovation
of the North Holladay Drive project.
One of his strengths as mayor of the
city he loved so much didn’t necessarily
come from his stalwart work ethic and
tireless commitment to fulﬁ lling his duties,
it was that he understood and advocated
for the city’s residents regardless if you
agreed with him or not. He understood
that people wanted to live here in Seaside
for the quality of living, the services the
city provided and the recreation amenities.
His success as mayor was reﬂ ected in
his recurring reelection — some uncon-
tested and without a platform. Despite his
disappointment that the ODOT Highway
101 project failed, most voters in Seaside
believed Larson was a good mayor, and in
many ways, he was. He was a hands-on
mayor who served the city well.
His fellow leaders as well as former
and current members of the community
whose lives he touched over the years
John D. Bruijn
admired him. And some, along with fam-
ily members and clergy, offered heartfelt
tributes to Larson during his memorial.
I met Mayor Larson in January 2014
when I became managing editor for the
Seaside Signal, under the ownership of
Dick and Margaret Larson (no relation).
He was welcoming and always forthcom-
ing with his time whenever I called. I reg-
ularly covered the council meetings and
Larson quickly became a constant contact.
He often gave me a call after reading the
latest edition of the Signal to discuss this
or that, especially when we disagreed
on certain points. And, though I always
respectively referred to him as Mayor Don
Larson or Mayor Larson in those articles,
I fondly called him just “mayor” anytime
I saw him out and about, or during one of
our many telephone conversations that he
always ended by saying, “Thank you for
making me sound good,” or “Thank you
for being truthful in your coverage;” even
if the coverage was negative.
After I left the Signal to become man-
aging editor for another company, he tried
hard to persuade me to return by saying,
“You were the best editor the paper had
and it really needs you back.” It did not
work, but it was a nice compliment. Years
later, I realized he gave the same compli-
ment to other former employees — and
that is OK.
hat was a cool trick for Bob Cook to copy George
H. W. Bush and jump from an airplane on his
85th birthday. I trust he had the wind at his back.
It was a buddy jump — reassuring, I would think. I
wonder if they yelled “Geronimo” as they came down.
That’s traditional with paratroopers and it’s in their
song. I learned it from my husband who was in the
paratroops in the 50s until he broke his back in a jump.
It takes a special kind of person to do that — a brave
person — and
I’m not tryin’
it ’til I get my
SCENE & HEARD
It was a real
revelation to me
to our election they talked about retaining the parts of
Obamacare which concerned pre-existing conditions
and keeping the 26-year -old “children” on their par-
ent’s policies. Egad. A 26-year-old person is not a child.
When my brother was 27, I thought he was older than
Methuselah. By the time someone is that age, shouldn’t
he be on his own and providing for himself? It’s a dif-
ferent world to be sure.
The weather for Thanksgiving was inclement to say
the least. Lots of thunder and lightning, too, though I
didn’t see it. Gary, his wife Connie, Robin and I went to
the Shilo buffet for dinner. There was so much to eat so
we sampled everything until it hurt. With a good seat by
the window, we were thankful indeed. I just felt a pang
for those who didn’t have the same privilege. We are so
When the kids were totaling up their responsibil-
ity for the check, they decided on $54.40 or ﬁ ght! It
was almost resolved that way. If I’m here for another
Thanksgiving, I think I’ll just have a sandwich and
watch TV. Gary and I left about 5 p.m. while the girls
stayed behind to visit. Their decision had its drawbacks.
Thunder and lightning increased; rain was torrential and
people in the restaurant became somewhat alarmed. I
didn’t understand if the ocean came over the Prom or
if it was just sheets of rain but it was not fun. When
Robin returned to her motel near Avenue U, the area
was ﬂ ooded from the tide and she couldn’t ﬁ nd the
driveway. After some maneuvering, she discovered a
parking place without being stalled in the river when it
was pitch dark. As the saying goes, “Nature in the raw
is seldom mild.”
When I looked out the window on Dec. 10, two
fawns were browsing in my yard. Their mother came
later and was only slightly larger than they were. I real-
ly felt awful when, in a short while, the rain came down
in torrents and they were caught in the middle. I would
have asked them in but knew it wouldn’t work. I just
hate to think of all the wild animals caught in winter
circumstances. It’s no merry Christmas for them.
Stop me if you’ve heard this: A man walked up to a
store and saw a boy and his dog sitting by the entrance.
“Does your dog bite?” asked the fellow.
“No, he doesn’t,” the kid answered.
The guy bent over to pet the dog, pulled back a
bleeding, tooth-marked arm and exclaimed, “I thought
you said your dog didn’t bite!”
“That’s not my dog,” the kid told him.
Larson was honest, sincere
As the former editor at The Seaside Signal, I worked
closely with Don Larson covering many local city sto-
ries. Mayor Larson made sure he was always available
for comment when I needed to balance our coverage of
issues impacting the city. He always demonstrated an
honest and sincere approach to city issues. When I ﬁ rst
arrived in Seaside, Mayor Larson greeted me with open
arms and his famous smile. He soon became a mentor
and close friend.
Mayor Larson help guide Seaside forward during his
time in ofﬁ ce.
He will be missed.
Jeremy C. Ruark
Be informed on climate change
Claire Lovell’s Dec. 9, “Scene & Heard ” column in
the Seaside Signal featured an opinion on climate change
that had nothing to do with the bulk of the piece. Yet the
paper chose to highlight this disconnected paragraph with
an inﬂ ammatory headline, “Climate change: a roll of the
dice,” as if it was the main focus of the article.
Climate change deniers fall largely into two catego-
ries: those who are woefully uninformed and those who
stand to proﬁ t from loosened regulations and gutted pro-
tections. We do indeed roll the dice with our children’s
future if we fail to act.
To discount the preponderance of evidence about the
reality of climate change by saying, “God is in charge of
the weather…” is to allow humans to shirk responsibility
for damage they have done to the pristine planet we had
“in the beginning.” Unchecked climate change may in-
deed be God’s vengeance.
But this is not really a religious issue. Nor is it red or
Earth’s rhythms may once have shifted naturally through
past centuries but exponential population growth and prac-
tices employed to sustain it have pushed us to the tipping
point. Man may have meant no harm but harm has been
done. Our ﬁ rst act of reparation is to become informed.
For an eminently watchable ﬁ lm highlighting the facts of
climate change, see National Geographic’s documentary
See Herren, Page 5A
The Seaside Signal
is published every
other week by
EO Media Group,
1555 N. Roosevelt,
Seaside, OR 97138.
The Seaside Signal welcomes letters to the
editor. The deadline is noon Monday prior to
publication. Letters must be 400 words or less
and must be signed by the author and include a
phone number for veriﬁ cation. We also request
that submissions be limited to one letter per
month. Send to 1555 N. Roosevelt Drive,
Seaside, OR 97138, drop them off at 1555 N.
Roosevelt Drive or fax to 503-738-9285.
Or email email@example.com
See Letters, Page 5A
Annually: $40.50 in county • $58.00 in
and out of county • e-Edition: only $30.00
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to
Seaside Signal, P.O. Box 210, Astoria, OR
97103. Postage Paid at Seaside, OR 97138 and
at additional mailing ofﬁ ces. Copyright 2015 © by
the Seaside Signal. No portion of this newspaper
may be re-produced without written permission.
All rights reserved.