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2015 Grand Marshal Tawana & Joe Borden

Grand Marshals Tawana & Joe Borden, Photo by Ernst Ulrich Schafer

Each year the Grand Marshal is selected by the Irrigation Festival Committee as someone who has made significant contributions to the community. The Grand Marshals for the 2015 Irrigation Festival are Joe and Tawana Borden.

The Bordens say it feels wonderful to be named grand marshals. “We've enjoyed having the opportunity to name other grand marshals,” Joe said, “and now that we've retired from the festival after 19 years, it's an honor.”

The Bordens moved to Sequim after Joe retired from the U.S. Army after 22 years, including three years in Army Intelligence in Vietnam, and bought their first home here after moving around so much. Tawana's parents already were in Sequim and she said they decided their children needed to set roots with grandparents.

Joe went back to work here selling propane and car parts and Tawana worked for the Jimmy Come Lately. She has been in banking for more than 28 years and remains part-time.

Joe is originally from Atlantic City, N.J., and Tawana from Chugiak, Alaska.

During their marriage, they've lived in Oklahoma, Texas, Hawaii, Virginia, Germany, North Carolina and finally in California before coming to Sequim. They met at Fort Richardson in Alaska where Joe was working as a bartender in the non-commissioned officer's bar and Tawana was the head cashier.

Since moving to Sequim, they have remained active in the community.

Joe held offices of Commander of the VFW post and District Commander for the VFW twice, as well as Commander of the American Legion while Tawana was president of the Ladies Auxiliary of the VFW. He also was on the board of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce for eight years.

They also are involved with the Shipley Center and the Captain Joseph House Foundation with Joe serving both boards as vice president, and Tawana helping with their annual fundraisers. Joe also works with the Advisory board for the Sequim High School auto shop and is the District Coordinator as well as a instructor for AARP Drivers Training Classes.

They've been married 45 years and have a son and daughter together — Chuck and Tawni — and they both have two daughters from previous relationships —Kelley from Tawana and Lisa from Joe.

Altogether they have nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

For the Bordens, they say the Irrigation Festival has meant a lot to them.

“It's been all about the community,” Joe said.

“Every year you meet new people and have new adventures and it's kept us young.”

They joined the festival after the Sequim Irrigation Festival Ditch walkers, volunteers who built the float and accompanied it with the festival's royalty around the state, asked them to accompany them.

Tawana drove the float in Port Angeles during the Sequim Irrigation Festival's 100th year and remains the only female driver of the float since they began volunteering.

During their tenure, they held almost every position from being in charge to keeping track of the portable toilets.

Tawana said her favorite moment of the festival was going through town in the float.

“We were most proud when you go through the town and the hometown crowd is oohing and awing and to see the girls (royalty) in their element,” Tawana said.


Biography contributed by Sequim Gazette