Bill Morton has the distinction of being the only volunteer to total a Federal Way Police Department vehicle.
Morton was a department vehicle maintenance volunteer in the late ’90s and tasked to take a police car to Lakewood to be modified.
While he was traveling on Interstate 5 headed south, a truck in a far lane clipped another car, which spun across the lanes, hitting the vehicle Morton was driving.
“I was shaken up but fine,” he said. “There was absolutely nothing I could do.”
While Morton has more than 20 years of volunteering service behind him, the Federal Way man said that misadventure was one the most memorable experiences.
Morton, who celebrated his 93rd birthday last week, now volunteers every Monday at City Hall, greeting and directing visitors to where they need to go.
“It’s fun. I enjoy it,” he said. “It gets me out of the house. They’re a nice bunch of people.”
Morton initially started volunteering following his retirement as a Boeing engineer in 1989. He was only three months in when a friend asked him if he’d help out at St. Luke’s in Federal Way assembling books in Braille for the congregation. He said he volunteered for St. Luke’s for 25 years and, ironically, was never a member of the church.
After that stint, he volunteered for the food bank picking up food from various establishments in town, which he did for three or four years before a health issue forced him back into retirement.
He also volunteered for a couple of political campaigns back when Federal Way was a young city. Morton said he could frequently be found standing on the corner of a busy city street waving signs for the candidates he was helping, which included Jeanne Burbidge and Linda Kochmar in their numbers.
“But I don’t work and play at campaigns anymore,” Morton said. “I’ve gotten older, and you have to slow down after awhile.”
Of all of Morton’s volunteering gigs, he said working as a vehicle maintenance person for the police department was the best. After seeing an advertisement in the newspaper, his wife recommended he take the position. As the first vehicle maintenance volunteer hired, he, joined by other volunteers, would work four-hour shifts and take police cars in for maintenance in town or to Lakewood for modifications. Morton said they would also run general errands for police officers when needed.
“It was fun,” he said, adding the best part of the job, however, was driving a police car.
Morton said he always had to chuckle when he, a volunteer, would be driving a vehicle behind someone else. He could always tell when the driver in front of him noticed his presence because they would suddenly slow down and begin driving carefully or flip their turn signal and get into the other lane.
“I don’t blame them. I don’t like having a police car behind me either, but it was kind of fun,” Morton said. “Driving police cars is fun.”
While Morton’s days making drivers nervous are long over, he said he still does drive, but only during the day and he economizes his time behind the wheel by scheduling his errands for one day. He’s also content helping out at City Hall once a week, but knows, at some point, he will have to retire from volunteering altogether one day — probably next year.
“I’ll see if I can’t get to my 94th birthday, and then I’ll evaluate how I feel,” Morton said.
To nominate someone for Citizen of the Month, email your name, contact information and why you believe the Mirror should choose your nominee to firstname.lastname@example.org.