Danna Webster discovered the Key Peninsula in 2000 after a nearly 30-year career as a teacher. She then spent the next 20 years becoming an indispensable part of KP life by volunteering as a member of the KP Community Council, a post she left at the end of December.
“I gave proper notice back in 2019,” Webster said. “I told them I wanted to retire in 2020 because it was such a great number. They said fine and put it on the calendar for Dec. 31. That’s not what I had in mind but I said ‘fine,’ and then when we got to December people were shocked — shocked! — that I was leaving.”
But Webster was quick to add she isn’t going anywhere.
“I find that it’s really a wonderful next step to formally stop one thing to free you up to do other things,” she said. “Way back I think I had something like 17 meetings a month, which was kind of nuts. But I’ve had so much fun and appreciated and enjoyed it.”
Webster was born in Iowa and has lived in Nebraska, California, Idaho and Colorado, where she spent the bulk of her professional life. Her husband of 42 years, Gordon, spent part of his youth in Edmonds and has a sister in Arlington. After the couple had raised their family of three in Colorado, and Webster neared retirement, she decided she was willing to relocate. “I don’t know why you’d go back to all that rain, but we can go look if you want,” she told him.
“Gordon took me up to the San Juan Islands and said ‘Wouldn’t you love to live in this beautiful country?’ I was all gung ho, and he said ‘Of course we can’t afford anything up here, but I’ve heard down in the South Sound there are some affordable things.’ ”
They spent one weekend going through 16 houses and bought one near Rocky Bay.
“I couldn’t believe how beautiful and fun it is out here, and when you drive to go somewhere it’s only 10 or 15 minutes instead of a day and a half to get there like it is in Colorado.”
It wasn’t long before her enthusiasm caught up with her. In 2004, Webster was invited to run for the board of directors of the newly formed KP Community Council.
“It was their first election. I wrote a magnificent resume for the position for Area 2, which is where I live, and I won by a landslide. I felt like a big winner there for a while before I realized nobody had read my resume and my opponent was largely absent.”
The council is a homegrown concept, intended to represent the four census areas of the Key Peninsula; unbiased, nonpartisan and able to advocate for the KP as a united voice to county and state officials.
“We started the candidates’ forum to get our elected officials to come talk to us, we took on School Bus Connects for transportation, and created a youth council for students to learn about government and parliamentary procedure,” Webster said. “Then we adopted the Farm Tour in 2008. We could put it under our nonprofit status and help them try and get some money, and it became probably the most successful event we have on the Key Peninsula.”
In 2017 the council opened an office in the Key Center Corral to do business and provide space for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, the Safe Streets program and Pierce County Councilman Derek Young. “We want it to be a hub for the community and it’s well on its way to being that, should we ever open again after COVID.
“But it was in 2015 that the council undertook perhaps its most important work by helping to create the KP Partnership for a Healthy Community,” Webster said.
“We needed to learn how to share with each other instead of duplicating efforts of all the nonprofits out here,” she said. “We designed an organization with three priorities: dealing with hunger, transportation, and health and wellness, and then coordinated to get our combined resources or skills to where they were needed.”
The partnership has been operating for five years under a council steering committee but recently established a seven-person board and gained its own state nonprofit status. “This is where I’ll continue to be involved,” Webster said. “I’m not on the board but I’m going to be an executive liaison to the partnership. I’ll be around as a very historical resource.”
Webster also spent 10 years with the Key Peninsula News, first as a reporter and later as assistant editor.
“The newspaper was the most wonderful thing,” she said. “That experience opened the entire Key Peninsula to me. I got into its history by meeting so many people who had made it, who had lived it. That was my best experience in my new life after retiring from education.
“I believe that everybody that comes to the Key Peninsula gets to have their dream come true. It means that they get to be the very best they are because they are building on their own dreams. They’ve built their own home, or their own boat, their own business, or they’ve written their own book or they become a great artist.
“So, I’m not going anywhere,” she said. “My phone number isn’t changing and if I can be of help, I will.”
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