Port Townsend: Rhododendron Festival selects senior royalty

PORT TOWNSEND — In 1948, Bob Helander, then a senior at Port Townsend High School, dated a girl who was a candidate for Rhododendron Festival royalty.

Now he is married to a Rhododendron queen.

Chosen by past senior royalty, Bob and his wife, Margery, a Chimacum High School graduate, will reign over the 2006 Rhododendron Festival as senior king and queen.

“It’s quite an honor,” Margery Helander says, “and it’s fun.”

Now retired and living in Port Ludlow, the Helanders are Port Townsend natives — both were born at St. John’s Hospital.

Bob’s parents, Earl and Peggy Helander, owned the “original Port Townsend lumber yard,” Bob says, which they bought from Tony DeLeo, who promptly opened a rival business.

Margery’s parents, Peter and Lily Myers, had a farm on Beaver Valley Road.

“My grandfather, Nels Anderson, was a blacksmith at the Port Ludlow mill in 1909,” Margery says. “After the mill closed, he built the building that is now the Beaver Valley Store. It was originally a garage.”

Margery attended Chimacum High School, graduating in 1951, but didn’t run for Rhody royalty.

“Bob asked me that when he broke the news that I would be the ‘old queen,”‘ she says, “but I think it was just Port Townsend girls back then.”

The Helanders were married at Trinity Methodist Church in 1952.

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