OCEAN PARK — They came in droves, most wearing brightly-colored Hawaiian shirts. Ocean Park Timberland Library Manager, Iver Matheson, had a lot of friends and library patrons offering hugs, big thanks and fond farewells. His retirement party on April 27 was very much a show of appreciation for all he has done for this community and not so much a sad time.
A little before the 2 p.m. start, Ilwaco Library Manager Susan Carney set out two large sheet cakes with “Best Wishes Iver” written in frosting on their tops. One chocolate cake, one white, they were decorated with purple and green, the official Timberland Regional Library System colors. Even the plates were color coordinated. But the most visible splashes of bright color were those Hawaiian shirts worn by attendees. The request was made to do so in the Mahalo party announcement, online and on fliers for weeks before. Matheson loves the cheerful brightness of such garb, so it was deemed that the shindig would carry that theme.
More than once, a library patron would greet another, also wearing “the colors,” laugh and say, “Yes, I got the memo.” Even three local musicians who showed up to play were dressed accordingly. Janet Volchok and John Angel looked straight off the Islands as they walked in, carrying their ukuleles. Guitarist John Purdin also wore an island shirt. Throughout the party, they played music from a Hawaiian gig book.
The first bear hug came from Shirley Chang, who thanked Iver for the job he has done for the past 23 years. Others followed until Matheson ultimately got the chance to sit down and eat cake, drink fruit punch and relax. Sitting next to him was his 91-year-old mother, Lillian Matheson.
Looking back and then forward
Before becoming manager of the Ilwaco branch, Carney worked at Ocean Park with Iver for 15 years. Recalling when she first started, she smiled and said, “This was the guy library — Iver, Fred Matfield and Bill Tubbs were here.” When they began talking to her, trying decide if she would fit into the scheme of things, they finally said, “I guess we’ll keep her.” In her words, that enjoyable time with Iver (the other two men have since passed away) was, “Quite a hunk of time.”
When asked about who would take Matheson’s place, Carney announced that it would be Jenny Grenfell, who is leaving her position as Timberland Library manager of the North Mason Branch in Belfair. Carney said, “She wanted to live by the beach,” so the timing of this job opening worked out well. Grenfell will report for duty “about the middle of the month,” said Carey, adding, “She’s already found a place to live.”
Grenfell’s education is rich with qualifying factors. She originally received a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) and teaching from Western Washington University. Her focus was Elementary Ed. A few years later, also from WWU, she earned a Master of Education (M.Ed.) with a concentration on Learning Resources Administration. To add the frosting on the cake, in 2001, she earned a Master of Library & Information Science (MLIS) degree from the University of Washington.
Matheson is an easy-going, soft-spoken person. From his chair, with his purple cake plate still in his hand, he told someone that Jenny Grenfell would be an excellent replacement. “She’s the opposite of me,” he said slowly, adding, “She’s dynamic.” This drew a chorus of laughter.
It really was the farewell day
Shortly before the party started, Matheson was asked if this was it, or if he was coming back on April 30 to finish off the month. No, he said, the 27th was goodbye. “I took the last day off. It would be an anticlimax for everybody, if I came back on Tuesday. So, this is my last day.”
Matheson lives in Astoria, yet Makowski and Carney said they hope he will come back across the bridge sometimes, to the Ocean Park, Naselle or Ilwaco Library to avail himself of the Timberland services or to just say hello. Makowshi said, “We’ll keep the door open for you.”
And as for Carney, who can be just as soft-spoken as Matheson, she almost whispered, “Iver can put his feet up now.”