Rose Cantwell: Longtime Edmonds Senior Center advocate, she championed construction of new waterfront center

Rose Cantwell at the Edmonds Waterfront Center construction site. (Photo by Daniel Johnson)

Rose Marie Cantwell, a longtime advocate for the Edmonds Senior Center and new Waterfront Center, passed away July 11 at age 90.

According to her obituary in The Seattle Times, Cantwell was born Jan. 21, 1932 in Terra Haute Indiana to John L Easton and Minta Maurer Easton. She graduated from Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis and later married Paul F. Cantwell. They had five children, including now U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, an Edmonds resident.

“The senior center and waterfront center family was heartbroken by the news of our beloved Rose’s passing,” said Edmonds Waterfront Center CEO Daniel Johnson. “As a voice for seniors and proponent of creating a multi-generational center, her legacy will live on within the daily programs and activities in the center for generations to come.”

In this October 2020 My Edmonds News article, Johnson announced that the waterfront center’s first floor meeting room would be named the Rose Cantwell Community room in her honor.  Johnson noted that Cantwell was “instrumental in setting it all in motion many years ago.” An active member of the Edmonds Senior Center beginning in the 1990s, she loved participating in the senior center’s choir, the Sound Singers.

In the mid-1990s, Johnson added, the organization went through a difficult patch, when some say the board of directors lost touch with the membership. “As the mother of U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, Rose was not about to be steamrolled,” Johnson said. “Rose led the charge for a change in board leadership and ended up being elected board president and ensuring the voice of the members would always prevail.

“When the organization decided that the Edmonds Senior Center building, with its sinking floors and failing plumbing, had to be replaced, Rose raised her hand offering to co-chair the capital campaign,” Johnson continued. “The campaign ended up growing to $16.5 million, demonstrating her audacious drive to deliver. But it did not stop there. Rose did not want to just build a new senior center. She wanted to build a center for people of all ages, saying, “Our society has segmented our communities by age – young families here and our seniors there. We had it wrong. We need to bring the generations together.” Rose pledged to raise the money and deliver the new center as a gift from the seniors to the community.”

A celebration of life for Rose Cantwell will be held in the near future. Memorial donations to the Edmonds Waterfront Center are welcomed.


  1. As new members of the community, “Edmonds Kind of Day”, my husband and I thank you, Rose, for your vision of an interbgenerational Waterfront Center! BTW, our son and family have moved here as well!

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