Progress Days open honoring one of Soldotna's earliest homesteaders

Jul 30, 2018

Longtime Soldotna resident Marge Mullen speaks with Gov. Bill Walker Friday during the kickoff to Soldotna Progress Days. Friday was Marge Mullen Appreciation Day.
Credit Shaylon Cochran/KDLL

Under last Friday’s sunny afternoon skies, residents from around the Peninsula well beyond came to honor one of Soldotna’s earliest post-World War II homesteaders.


At a spry 98 years, Marge Mullen has seen just about every step of modern progress in Soldotna, and so it was a fitting kickoff to the annual Progress Days celebration that Mullen remembered not just those early days, but far earlier generations of Alaskans who have called the area home. Friday was proclaimed Marge Mullen Appreciation Day by the Soldotna city council.

“I am really humbled that I’ve heard my name for two, three, four days. I’ve seen my name in print. Who is this lady?

I want to say, though, that my mind goes back when I took a class with (Dr.) Alan Boraas at our wonderful Kenai Peninsula College in the Anthropology department. When I was on a project with him, whatever we found there was carbon dated and we learned that we were into a trench (used by) people who had lived there since the year 400. So I’m not the first lady by any means. There have been examples of people dwelling at the mouth of the Kenai river, mouth of the Moose river, Russian river, so I always think of those women and how they might have lived.”

“I really attribute my long life to an open mind, spirit of adventure and modern medicine. Besides these three attributes, there’s my love for walking. I grew up in Chicago and my father never had a car. We had a bus line two blocks one way and a street car three blocks the other way, so I didn’t learn to drive until I was 33. I gave birth to four children who all became well educated and productive in their adult lives. The spark in my life at this age is my seven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren, some of whom are here holding me up today. At the (historical museum) we have three cabins that attest to the very soft footprint that was the start of all this progress seen in the city today. Life is good. God bless us all.”

 

Mullen also had the spotlight recently on the floor of the U.S. Senate, where Lisa Murkowski shared part of her story.