Friday, December 23, 2016

Remembering Muriel Kifer – The Unexpected Consequences of Sharing Soup

Photo by Ann Duval of Issaquah (since deceased) in 2002, 
of Muriel being rescued from Issaquah dock during high water.
by Leni Miller

I didn’t really know Muriel Kifer in the early days. I lived at 51 Issaquah and she lived at #2.

We did have something in common though; we both lived on Issaquah Dock and were single ladies.

I am a soup maker. I inherited this gift from my grandmother and father. When we make soup in our family, we make enough for legions of people. So, one of the ways I can distribute the soup I make is to share it with neighbors.

For a number of years. I would walk down the dock with a pot of soup and knock on Muriel’s door. She would open the door gingerly so that the doggie wouldn’t get out. I would hand the soup through to her. Eventually, Muriel invited me inside.

I never stayed very long, but long enough to know that she had competed in tennis at Wimbledon, was a dedicated athlete and had come from a highly educated and “well bred” English family who settled in Canada. I also knew that her sister, Lorraine, taught art for many years at a well-known private high school for girls in Palo Alto, Castilleja. One day, she asked me to be her Financial Executor. I agreed.

Over the years, Muriel was very social and would hold court with her little dog in her lap at “dock alerts” or parties. She began to be known as “the Queen” of Issaquah with her taste for champagne and caviar.

Muriel was also remarkable in her physical stamina. Those of us who remember her leaping across at least a foot of open water at night, from her stairway to the dock, with her dog in her arms, can attest to this. Eventually, Muriel had the front door moved from the upstairs deck to the lower deck. I believe it was about when she turned 85 years old.

As Muriel aged, support came together in a way which was so representative of our communities here on the docks.  A group of neighbors helped Muriel move, and be admitted to the Redwoods Retirement Home into an apartment where she could have her little dog, Jib. Several people helped clear out her home, sell her home, and liaise with her Canadian nephew, Newall. Yet another person organized an apartment-warming party with great food and live music when Muriel was settled in; many neighbors attended.

The real message of this story is that Muriel was a person of extraordinary style, accomplishments and savoir faire. Her clothes were from an era of elegance and sophistication and her speech was refined and regal. So, as I think about it, it is not surprising at all that Muriel was feted at her 80th birthday on the dock appearing very much to be the “Queen” even before we crowned her on that day. Godspeed dear Muriel. We will miss you.