Mary Ellen Sehmel was a gardener who planted her roots in Gig Harbor. She spent many years working with the historical society and raising Christmas trees and rhododendrons on the Sehmel family homestead.
“She liked her community,” son Bill Sehmel said.
Sehmel died April 25 at the age of 89.
She moved to Gig Harbor from Minnesota while she was still in high school. At Gig Harbor Union High School, she was elected senior class president. After graduation, Sehmel worked for the Red Cross.
Sehmel married her husband, Donald, after World War II. They were together for 67 years until his death in 2013.
Sehmel was involved with the Gig Harbor Peninsula Historical Society. It was a group of women that met in their homes beginning around the 1960s. Eventually, it expanded and today is known as the Harbor History Museum.
The museum opened its building downtown in 2010. The Sehmels donated $1.5 million to build the Sehmel Family Harbor History Museum on Harborview Drive.
Sehmel’s husband had deep roots in Gig Harbor. His family first homesteaded in Gig Harbor in the 1880s. Sehmel’s work in the historical society was close to home.
“A lot of the information she was digging up was family information, too,” Bill Sehmel said.
She is survived by three sons, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. A celebration of her life was held Saturday at the Harbor History Museum.