Longtime Harbor residents Archie and Doris McVay have been selected by the Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce as the Grand Marshals for the 2001 Azalea Festival.

The couple, both 80, will participate in a variety of festival activities the weekend of May 26-25. They will ride in the annual Azalea Festival Parade, attend a Friday night mixer and judge entries in the quilt and flower shows.

Im truly surprised, Doris McVay said when she was asked to accept the title Tuesday.

It really is quite an honor to be selected, Archie said.

Your kids are thrilled about it too, said Les Cohen, executive director of the chamber.

Cohen and chamber member Sandy Hislop personally visited the McVays home with a bouquet of flowers to ask them to be grand marshals.

The couple were selected by the chambers Azalea Festival Planning Committee.

We cant think of anyone more deserving, Cohen said.

The McVays are part of a true pioneer family. Archie great grandfather, Hutson Patrick McVay, arrived in Curry County in the 1850s with a large family of boys to homestead ranches from the Pistol River to the Smith River.

The family began their wagon-train trek in Missouri, with parts of the family gathering from Kentucky and Tennessee.

Theyd stop in different states and farm for a year or so to earn money to complete the trip, Doris said.

Archies father was born in 1865 in the building that now houses the Chetco Valley Historical Society Museum. Archie was born, Jan. 22, 1921, in the home that is currently the Sea Dreamer Inn on McVay Lane in Harbor.

His mothers family, the Gardners, were also early arrivals to Curry County. They homesteaded the area named for the family, Gardner Ridge in the late 1800s.

It was 1934 before Doris family, the Drakes, arrived in Brookings-Harbor, or Chetco, as the town on the flatland in Harbor was called at that time. She was born in Kiperville, Alberta, Canada, Dec. 17 1920, and her family arrived in Brookings after stops in Selma and Grants Pass.

Doris and Archie met at the Brookings School in the 7th grade.

When she was a sophomore in high school her family moved to North Bend, but she spent summers working in The Nook Restaurant (currently Kens Tavern) in Brookings, some say to be near Archie.

When asked if that was true, she admitted that Archie was part of the reason she spent her summers with her sister in Brookings.

They were married April 29 1946, have seven children, 22 grandchildren and one great-grandson.

I never went anywhere, Archie said, which is not quite true. He spent four years in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II, serving along the Columbia River and on landing craft in the Pacific.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons the McVays donated the property for the Chetco Coast Guard station.

The land donation included a stipulation obligating the government to locate the station on the Chetco River.

Everybody was after (the Coast Guard station) all up the coastline, Archie said.

Or perhaps he was looking forward to having the Coast Guard crewmen relieve him of duties as volunteer provider of rescue services at the port.

The first six Coast Guard crewmen lived in a mobile home on the property.

The McVays also donated three additional parcels of port property to the port district in the 1960s, a total of nearly 40 acres, Archie said.

The McVays sold the final 10 acres of Port of Brookings Harbor property to the port district in 1990.

Until 1965, when the area flooded, the McVay family lived in the renovated building that had housed the hotel and post office in the town of Chetco, where they had a dairy farm and a slaughter house.

The house stood in what is now the channel in front of the Coast Guard station.

After their new home on high ground overlooking the port was built, the children watched through the window and cried as the old house was burned down, Doris said.

It was almost impossible to find one of the children to talk with because they are all too busy, but oldest daughter Dawn Heysell was willing to share a bit over the phone from Medford.

She said her father, an avid fisherman and hunter, goes to Mexico to hunt twice a year, once with his four sons and once with his three sons-in-law.

She said, We all die laughing at the stories they tell when they come home.

She said she was the first girl born into the McVay family in 80 years, and was the queen bee until those two other darn girls were born.

She said her father was an only child, and hes still an only child. My mother says she got him that way, but we blame her.

As much as she appears to enjoy twitting her father, Dawn added, He was always there for us. And I know the other kids would say the same thing. Were all different, but we all watch out for each other, and that came from our parents.

The McVays have seen many changes in the community. They remember the railroad line that ran over the bridge just under the windows of their current home and carried lumber to ships waiting offshore to transport logs to Japan.

They remember when the only way to cross the river was on foot at low tide, or by ferry when the tide was too high. One story the McVays told is of the ferry-man who, when tired, would hide if he saw prospective passengers approaching.

Doris McVay has been the official keeper of historical records for the family and the community. In 1990 she was honored by the International Order of Beta Sigma Phi, a womens sorority that has four groups in Brookings-Harbor, with its People Helping People Award.

Each year we try to honor one person in the community who is kind of the unsung hero type, said member Dorothy Garvin at the time of the award.

Someone who doesnt ask for recognition, but just does it because she loves the community.

The group honored Doris McVay for the 35 years she had worked for the Chetco Historical Society Museum.

The McVays are an almost unending source of information about and pictures of the early years in Brookings-Harbor.

They dont, however, dwell on the past, regretting the changes. Both continue to be active in supporting current improvements, including those at the port.

That fella (Russ Crabtree) is doing a terrific job, Archie said. Everything hes done is absolutely first class.

They praised Crabtrees ability to find funding for port projects and for cleaning up and improving the port property, making it the greatest asset of the community, Archie said.

Their children have chosen to stay pretty close to the home where they grew up. Sidney, Rocky, Pat and Molly all live with their families in Brookings.

Dawn lives in Medford, Mike in Sebastopol, Calif., and Mary in Tualatin.

Doris and Archie laughed about the prospect of a McVay float, or a caravan of McVay SUVs, following them along the Azalea Festival parade route.

One of the McVay children, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that even though Archie has lived his whole life in Brookings-Harbor, he refuses to be named a pioneer citizen because he isnt old enough.

Theyre all glad he doesnt associate age with being Grand Marshall, and will be there to celebrate. Were all coming home, Dawn said. I dont think we have a choice.

Sounds as though it will be an exciting time in Brookings-Harbor this Azalea Festival when Doris and Archie McVay lead the parade.