MARROWSTONE ISLAND — Paula and Greg Lalish have been named Marrowstone Island’s Citizens of the Year, an honor bestowed every year by past Citizen of the Year winners.
The Lalishes were honored by the Marrowstone Island Community Association at its meeting at the Garden Club on Monday night.
The Lalishes were instrumental in providing free ambulance service to residents of Marrowstone Island from the late 1970s until the mid-1990s, said Rita Kepner, a member of the community association, in a news release.
The two were trained in the medical field. Paula Lalish volunteered as an emergency medical technician with the Marrowstone Island Emergency Medical Services for 20 years while her husband, Greg Lalish, was a first responder, ambulance driver and fireman for the Chimacum Fire Department for a little longer than 20 years.
“I know their volunteer contributions saved lives,” said Signe Rose Lalish, Paula and Greg’s daughter, in the release.
“I remember hearing the beeper go off late at night and one of them getting dressed and leaving.”
The two retired in the 1990s when Jefferson County Fire-Rescue stepped in to assume responsibility for emergency services on Marrowstone Island.
In her retirement, Paula pursued her passions as a harpist and poet and continues to perform around Jefferson County.
Greg continues to mentor younger generations by helping with hands-on projects such as the Cob building construction.
“My husband said that if we lived here long enough, it would eventually be our turn,” said Paula Lalish. “I’ve always said we haven’t done enough, but we like to take care of our neighbors — in smaller ways now and not at 3 a.m.”
The two continue to volunteer their time, helping families with loved ones in hospice. Paula often brings her harp and hosts community and private concerts for families and their loved ones.
“Paula came into our home to play for my mother,” Kepner said. “I watched Mom’s face soften with inner peace in a way so obvious that it brought me and Paula to tears.”
Greg and Paula Lalish are now grandparents but continue to help their community, which is why, according to Kepner, they are being honored as the Marrowstone Citizens of the Year.
“There’s a community on this island that takes care of each other,” said Paul Lalish. “They’ve set a great example for us.”
The honor is awarded to a resident of Marrowstone Island for contributions to the island community and/or Jefferson County.
Prior Citizen of the Year awardees reviewed this year’s nominations to award the Lalishes for their extraordinary efforts in their local community.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected].