Norm Mathews, founder of Vashon Thriftway and a frequent contributor to the community, has been named grand marshal of this year’s Strawberry Festival Grand Parade.
Each year the Chamber of Commerce seeks nominations for grand marshal as a way to honor community members for their service; islander CC Stone nominated Mathews for his many contributions.
Mathews said he was humbled to have been given the honor.
“My family and I are grateful to those who have shopped with us over the years and provided the opportunity for this recognition,” he added.
Mathews, 91, has seen and been a part of many festivals over the years, but is unable to physically take part this year. He noted that the festival gives islanders the opportunity to come together and celebrate this community.
“I have always enjoyed seeing our employees participate in the Thriftway Shopping Cart Drill Team,” he said. I have greatly enjoyed seeing them express their pride in our store as well as show off their talents in a very unique and fun way.”
He added that he is pleased to have been able to contribute to Vashon over the years.
“Being able to give back to our island community, especially to its youth, has been a tremendous source of satisfaction for my family and me. We have so many tremendous organizations doing great work in our community, and having the opportunity to support many of them over the years is a great honor that we don’t take for granted.”
In her nomination letter, CC Stone mentioned what she appreciates about Mathews — and the store.
“I admire how he conducts his business, how he treats and trains his employees, how he responds to his customers — a fickle and cranky bunch, let’s face it — by indulging their every whim and not judging any of us for our crazy cravings,” she wrote.
She also noted that the grocery business is a tough one and that the island is fortunate two have two good operators.
“They both serve us all, everyday. It’s the very definition of community service. They give their time and talent to make Vashon a good place to live. I think it is time we honor the impact Norm Matthews has had on our island,” she added.
The board of the Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce and Vashon Island Market IGA owner Shawn Hoffman, who sponsors the grand marshal award, selected Mathews.
Mathews’ grandson Clay Cleb manages the store and elaborated on his grandfather’s work.
“He’s always been very passionate about giving back to the island, especially to causes that directly benefit kids: Youth sports, Vashon Youth & Family Services, Vashon Schools Foundation and the Vashon Scholarship Foundation in particular. He’s also always been a big supporter of the Vashon food bank, Vashon Center for the Arts and Vashon Community Care,” Gleb said.