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LaVelle McGuire was a mother of three children, but she was a mother figure for dozens more.
While working as a secretary at a home for troubled kids, Mrs. McGuire was tasked with picking up runaways and bringing them back. While her own kids were growing up in Bothell, she made sure their friends had an open door and a freshly baked birthday cake. In her later years, she organized a senior outing group, even though most of the members were younger than she was.
“I think she really had an impact in that way,” her son Pete McGuire said. “She was a mom figure for a lot of people throughout her life.”
Mrs. McGuire died April 20 in Kirkland after acquiring COVID-19 five weeks earlier. She was 94.
Mrs. McGuire grew up on a farm in Oregon. Wanting to help during World War II, she moved to Astoria, where she served as a captain’s secretary and entertained troops through the United Service Organizations (USO). She won several jitterbug contests, her children said. They later found small trophies from her victories.
Bucking the trend of many women of the era, Mrs. McGuire didn’t marry until she was in her late 30s. Instead, she went to beauty school, modeled for a photography studio and was an office manager at Banker’s Life Insurance.
“She told me she didn’t want to get settled down yet,” her daughter, Jeanne McGuire, said. “She was having too much fun.”
She met Don McGuire in 1961, and the two were married for 46 years. The pair moved their three kids from a house near the Woodland Park Zoo to a farm in Bothell. Mrs. McGuire was on all their school committees, and worked as a lunch lady when they were in high school. Peter McGuire remembers on his first day that she yelled to a colleague “make sure he gets a lot of vegetables!” She always gave their friends extra food.
She was a member of Saint Brendan Catholic Church in Bothell, where she and her husband were active for decades. In the mid-1980s, they took part in “white train” protests, which were demonstrations against the transport of nuclear weapons across Washington on the so-called white trains. The pair, both well into their 60s, were detained once, their sons and daughter recalled with a laugh – someone saw them on the news, with Catholic priests and nuns as they were all held by police. When Pete McGuire started a new job, he was told he had passed a background check, but his new employer had questions about his parents and their involvement with the protest group.
“It was funny,” he said “I never thought of little nuns and priests to be a threat to the government.”
Don McGuire died in 2008, and Mrs. McGuire moved to a Bothell retirement community, where she lived for several years, and then moved in October to Brookdale Arbor Place in Everett. In early March, she had a fall and had to go to the Providence Regional Medical Center. Her family members aren’t sure if she acquired the virus at the nursing home or at the hospital.
She was discharged and then hospitalized again, when she was put on a five-day trial of remdesivir, an experimental antiviral drug that has shortened the recovery time for many coronavirus patients. The drug seemed to work; her fever went down and she never required a ventilator. She was grateful to be able to help scientists try to find a treatment for the virus, her children said.
As she started to decline more severely, her family members decided to move her to a Kirkland hospice facility, where she died. Only immediate family could be at her burial, but others arrived in dozens of cars, enough that the cemetery staff worried that they would get in trouble because the turnout was so high. Her two sons and daughter stopped by every car afterward.
“We always had people at our house, and mom and dad would really talk to our friends,” Pete McGuire said. “Later in life, it still resonates with people that they did do that. They were accepting of everyone.”