Forever tied to community: Reitans chosen as royalty for Kent Cornucopia Days

Ed (Butch) and Barbara Reitan were chosen to be the Old Timers King and Queen for the 2012 Kent Cornucopia Days because of their lifetime ties to the community.

Old Timers King and Queen for Kent Cornucopia Days: Barbara and Ed (Butch) Reitan have enjoyed the good life with their deep ties to the community.

Old Timers King and Queen for Kent Cornucopia Days: Barbara and Ed (Butch) Reitan have enjoyed the good life with their deep ties to the community.

Ed (Butch) and Barbara Reitan were chosen to be the Old Timers King and Queen for the 2012 Kent Cornucopia Days because of their lifetime ties to the community.

Ed, 74, has been a lifetime resident of Kent since his family homesteaded here from Norway in the 1900s. Barbara, 69, has lived in Kent since she married Ed in 1971, and use to work the field on his grandfather’s farm near Reiten Road in 1960.

“I’m just comfortable here. I don’t think I ever thought of living anywhere else,” Ed said. “My family is here. We have history here and it’s just a great place to be.”

Ed went to Kent Elementary and graduated from Kent-Meridian High School.

“This was a great place to grow up,” he said.

As king and queen, they will ride in the King Cornucopia Days Grand Parade on Sunday in downtown Kent. The parade, which originated in 1934, has grown to become the largest parade in South King County with nearly 100 entries.

“We were definitely surprised to hear we got this,” Barbara said “We do feel honored.”

Ed and Barbara said it’s been hard for them to watch Kent change from a rural environment to a city area with shopping malls.

“Places that were buildings use to be farms and fields,” Ed said. “Then the railroad system came and the area kept growing over time.”

The Reitans were annexed into the city in 1954. They have lived one mile from downtown Kent for many years.

“Our nephew still owns the house built by Ed’s family in 1913,” Barbara said. “It’s been remodeled over the years, but we are proud that it still stands.”

Ed and Barbara were friends for 10 years before they became a couple. Both belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a club where members are involved in numerous charitable efforts and humanitarian endeavors such as scholarships, low-interest student loans and grants, low-cost nursing homes for the elderly, family and youth summer camps and annual donations to charities.

The Reitans still participate in the club, of which Ed was a grand secretary for eight years.

“It’s a great group of people there, and we travel all around with the Odd Fellows,” Ed said.

Ed worked in the Kent Post Office for 36 years before retiring in 1992. Barbara worked at Boeing for 10 years as a data entry specialist and then at the Post Office for a number of years after she gave birth to their son.

“Now we are enjoying our retirement and making plans for trips,” Barbara said.

The two are traveling to Ohio for a club event in August.

“Sometimes for these events we fly or drive, but this time we get to take a relaxing train ride,” Ed said, smiling.


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