Making a Home in Douglas Co.

Michael and Lisa Davies on their property in Waterville. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)


By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

Couple enjoys spending retirement years contributing to Waterville

This is the second in a series of articles about people who have come to Douglas County from places near and far and have thrived here. Some came through marriage, some have retired here and some are young couples that have found this to be their place of choice for raising children. All have become active in the life of the community and have come to call this home. The second article is about Michael and Lisa Davies, who moved to Waterville from Skagit County in 2012.


Michael and Lisa Davies are familiar to many Waterville residents.

Lisa Davies is the executive director of the Waterville Main Street Association. She also volunteers at the Recycling Center every Tuesday and Saturday. Michael Davies is the muscle and handyman behind many Main Street endeavors, working to design the wooden structure for the barn quilts, hanging the quilts on the buildings, decorating the town Christmas tree with lights, and helping behind the scenes at Waterville Days to set up for the event and put things away afterwards.

The Davies have quickly set down their roots in Waterville, having moved here in 2012.

The idea of making Waterville their retirement home came to the Davies 10 years ago when Michael Davies’ cousin, Sandy Stoddard, asked him if he wanted to help with her family’s wheat harvest. Davies agreed.

While helping, he was struck by the friendliness of the people in and around the town. He said that he especially noticed that when he walked down the street even children would take the time to look him in the eye and say hello.

Davies told his wife, “Lisa, you’ve got to come over and meet the people here.”

She came over for a visit and also fell in love with the town.

Lisa Davies was interested in one of the older homes in town, but Michael wasn’t sure he liked this idea.

He told her, “You know, I could build you an old, new house. Then we wouldn’t have to spend 20 years remodeling.”

Lisa Davies began researching bungalow homes because it is a style she liked and because she felt it would fit in well with the town. They designed their own home and built it with the help of a variety of contractors.

Soon after they moved in, Main Street Association member Kathie McMahon invited Lisa to a Main Street meeting.

Davies felt a strong affinity with the mission of the association to preserve the historic nature of the town of Waterville.

“I felt it was somewhere special and if we don’t preserve it, it will become like any other town, and there’s too much history here that would disappear,” Davies said.

Davies said her strong feelings of preservation are partly linked to her experience living in La Conner and watching local businesses be replaced by businesses owned by people who resided elsewhere.

“That’s what makes me want to save Waterville for what it is,” Davies said.

Davies is working with the statewide Main Street program on historic preservation. She is also working with building owners to help them recognize the historic value of their buildings and promote their businesses.

Her background as a real estate broker comes in handy for this work. She loves marketing and promotion and her knowledge of real estate practices helps when working with building and business owners to make improvements.

In addition to her work preserving buildings, Davies is instrumental in planning and running Waterville Days as well as the Main Street barn quilt project. In order to raise money for Waterville Days, the Davies have spearheaded a cord drive each year. They take the collected electric cords to a facility in Snohomish where they receive a good price for them.

Davies regularly puts in 10-15 hours per week volunteering for the Main Street Association.

In the six months leading up to Waterville Days, she puts in even more time planning for the event and helping to make sure that it goes off smoothly.

Davies finds working at the Recycling Center to be a rewarding use of two afternoons each week. Being a recycling center volunteer not only helps in the overall picture of wise use of resources but it also helps Davies get to know people. She said that in the beginning she would ask other volunteers who people were as they drove in. Now sometimes other volunteers ask her.

One of the things that both Michael and Lisa Davies enjoy about volunteering in a small community is the sense that what they are doing is making a difference, and doesn’t just feel like a drop in the bucket.

“You can make an impact in a small town,” Michael Davies said.

The Davies didn’t previously attend church, but they once attended a funeral in which former Federated Church Pastor Daniel Miranda officiated. The message especially resonated with Michael Davies.

He told Lisa, “If I ever go to church again, I want to go to his church.”

So when the couple moved to Waterville, they started attending the Federated Church and have become members. Michael Davies jokes that he is on the “maintenance crew” for the church.

Lisa Davies said that sometimes she attends larger churches in bigger cities when she is away, but she is always happy to come back to the Federated Church.

“I’m so happy to come to ours because to me it’s more real,” she said. “I guess I’m just a small town person.”

Michael and Lisa Davies are present at nearly every Waterville Town Council meeting. They follow town council decisions and town developments and pop in with questions or suggestions at times.

Asked what brings them to the meetings, Michael Davies said, “It’s kind of neat to hear the history of what they (the town council members) have done.”

The Davies said that when they first moved to Waterville many people in their family were surprised that they were willing to move away from their grandchildren, who live in Western Washington. Lisa Davies said that actually they have maintained their relationships with their grandchildren in a very meaningful way in their new location.

The older three of five grandchildren each come to visit every summer without their parents. The grandchildren love this chance to stay with the Davies. They ride their bikes around town or to the pool, something they can’t do when they are at home.

“They have the freedom here in town, and they’re still safe,” Davies said.

Michael Davies said that about every seven years Lisa will suggest a move. They’ve been in Waterville almost that long, but both say they don’t want to move any time soon.