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M.L. Dehm / SCBJ 
(click to enlarge)
Mother-daughter team Donna Leifer (left) and Melody Leifer-Fitzmaurice own and operate Leifer Manor in Marysville.
M.L. Dehm / SCBJ 
(click to enlarge)
Donna Leifer and Melody Leifer-Fitzmaurice stand outside the gazebo at Leifer Manor. The mother-daughter team runs the popular Marysville event venue, which is set at the family home Donna Leifer’s father built in 1948.

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Jim Davis, Editor
jdavis@heraldnet.com
Published: Thursday, September 1, 2011

Leifer Manor's minders make sure everything's just so

MARYSVILLE — If you've been to many weddings in Snohomish County, there's a good chance that at least one of them took place at Leifer Manor in Marysville. The award-winning event venue that is owned and operated by mother-daughter team Donna Leifer and Melody Leifer-Fitzmaurice will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2012.

Leifer Manor was built as a private home by Donna Leifer's parents in 1948. The Leifers were one of the early farming families of Marysville.

“They had the largest privately owned berry farm in the Northwest,” Donna Leifer said.

The house that became Leifer Manor was a labor of love for Clarence Leifer and he took great pride in the workmanship that's still admired by visitors today.

Some of his hard-working entrepreneurial spirit rubbed off on youngest daughter Donna. Rather than join in the family's berry growing operations, she began her own career by moving to New York and operating secretarial services for the New York Athletic Club.

On her return to Snohomish County, she founded the first secretarial service in the city of Lynnwood. She was extremely active in the South Snohomish County Chamber of Commerce, Soroptimist International of Sno-King, South Snohomish County United Way and many other community services and agencies.

Leifer also was executive assistant for Snohomish County's first executive, Willis D. Tucker.

But by 1990, Leifer had achieved retirement age. She was ready for a change but not ready to retire. It was simply time to find something new.

“When I retired from the county, I wanted to be physically active and work with happy people,” she said.

Daughter Melody Leifer-Fitzmaurice, then a manager with The Bon Marche, was also ready for a career change. Together, the mother-daughter duo thought they would turn the family home into a bed and breakfast but the city of Marysville didn't like the idea.

The city was much more receptive to the concept of a wedding and event venue. Construction on the elaborate grounds began in 1991. By 1992, Leifer Manor held its first event — a wedding reception for 300.

It went off without a hitch and the business has had smooth sailing ever since.

Leifer Manor offers a fully landscaped outdoor wedding area with gazebo as well as a covered and heated outdoor reception area. There is romantic lighting available for evening events and a “bride's room” for primping and changing.

The venue has been the site of countless weddings and receptions, proms, church picnics and company parties. It was voted the best place to have a wedding in Snohomish and Island counties.

Leifer Manor is popular for its attractive, photogenic grounds and for the many services that are included in the base price. This includes after-event clean up, long tables for food, small round tables for the reception area, use of a caterer's kitchen, additional rehearsal time and parking-lot attendants.

Other items such as linen service, dishes, flowers and other items can be rented there.

Leifer and Leifer-Fitzmaurice admit to being “control freaks” when it comes to their business. They like everything to be perfect and they like to do everything themselves.

“We power wash in the morning prior to every function, get everything ready and set up the tables and chairs,” Leifer-Fitzmaurice said.

And that's not all. The ladies also do the janitorial work and manicure the grounds themselves. Leifer likes to mow the lawns and care for all the linens. If they need any additional help, they enlist Leifer-Fitzmaurice's husband, Chris, or one of her four daughters or daughters' friends to assist. It really is a family affair.

As for the future, Leifer-Fitzmaurice figures that one of her daughters might take over the business someday but that day won't be for some time yet.

“I plan to do this until I get senile,” Leifer joked.

Both women would like to see their site used more for business events. The Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce held a monthly Business After Hours event there Aug. 16.

Because it is an outdoor venue, Leifer Manor is open seasonally from May to mid-October. More information is available online at www.leifermanor.com or by calling 360-659-2285.