By Zach Hagadone
There’s not enough room on this page — maybe even in this paper — to adequately praise or even describe my mom. She’s kind of a big deal. So much so that, at least a couple times a month, people I don’t even know identify me because they know her. That makes her newsworthy, and especially around Mother’s Day.
In case you don’t know my mom, Perky Smith-Hagadone, and even if you do, I’m going to list a couple of interesting things about her:
• She and a friend came to Sandpoint in the late-1970s, via boxcar from L.A., after a stint as itinerant workers picking apples in Washington.
• She went to school for a bit at Whitworth, during which time she went on two canoe-born mapping treks through the Arctic.
• She lived in a shack in Sagle that had no heat or running water and worked at a local lumber mill. My kids still play with the blocks she was allowed to take home from that job.
• She is an astounding artist with a massive output. Some of her most public pieces have included the original “Sandpoint is a Walking Town” sign, the old Cedar Street Bridge sign, the foyer mural at Sagle Elementary School and many others. Her personal fine art pieces are world-class, and have lately included work for several as-yet-unpublished (though hopefully soon-to-be-published) children’s books, which she also wrote.
• She worked her way from being a volunteer teacher’s aide at Sagle Elementary in the 1980s to becoming a beloved and highly respected teacher at Washington Elementary, Sandpoint Middle School, Kootenai Elementary and, finally, at Northside Elementary, where she finished her career as principal just before the pandemic hit. During her tenure at Northside, that school achieved among the highest scores in the state by any number of measures.
• She earned her master’s degree three years before me.
• She and a close colleague designed and implemented a program that took local students on a science- and conservation-intensive trip to Costa Rica every year for more than a dozen years.
• She learned to scuba dive in Lake Coeur d’Alene and, in retirement (in her 60s) enrolled in a conservation program to swim with and monitor whale sharks in the Sea of Cortez.
• She’s been to Guyana, skied in the Swiss Alps, walked through lava tubes in Hawaii and even been to Australia. In the late-’90s, she and two of her three still-living brothers (she had four) used their inheritance to take our families to Greece for an almost-month-long family reunion/vacation that remains a defining point in most of our lives. (Notable in part because my brother was nearly killed by a brush with a poisonous sea cucumber and a bot-fly infested one of my eyes… all of which she bore with superhuman stoicism.)
• She is an avid photographer and birder, and has — in my opinion — the best backyard in Dover.
• She regularly joins Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness to do the kind of trail work that 20-somethings can’t manage and, just this morning, texted to tell me she was going to Montana on a tree-planting excursion.
• She takes my kids on hikes, canoe and kayak rides, and all kinds of other adventures at least once a week. This past weekend, she took my son on a two-day grandma-grandson adventure to Glacier National Park in honor of his 10th birthday.
Like I said, there isn’t enough space to list in this meager manner my mom’s many achievements, qualities, talents and interests. Yet, with much more that could be written, I’m already out of that space. If you’re among the thousands of people in this community whose lives have been enriched by her in various ways over the past 40-plus years, you know what I’m talking about.
It was cosmic luck that made her my mom. And, because I’m the oldest, I’ll speak for my brother, her daughter-in-law and grandchildren when I say that we couldn’t be more grateful that she is who she is, she is ours and we are hers. Happy Mother’s Day, ma.
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