Recently a young friend of Malakay Betor’s became vegetarian. The friend told her that he was experiencing hostility and asked Malakay if she ever sensed that others resented her for being vegetarian. Malakay responded: “I’m a vegetarian, liberal, feminist, Arab American, New Yorker, atheist, and Yankee fan. I offend people on so many levels, it is really hard to pinpoint just one thing.”
Malakay Betor was born in Schenectady, New York, in 1957, the third of four children born, over the course of four years, to George Betor, Jr., and Evelyn Hoffman. The family soon moved to Ballston Spa, Saratoga County, New York, where scenes from The Way We Were were filmed.
As a girl, Malakay Betor worked in her father’s store where she learned about responsible capitalism. George Betor owned and operated Betor’s Department Store, which sold clothing for men, women and children as well as some baby toys and shoes. Women working in the store supported disabled husbands. Malakay’s father provided the workers with a small pension, a health plan, and paid vacation which branded him in the business community as a trouble-maker. Malakay’s family would have garnered a higher income if the store’s employees lived worse, but her father taught Malakay: “There is no such thing as a free lunch; somewhere someone always pays.”
Evelyn Hoffman, Malakay Betor’s mother, was a registered nurse. While Malakay was young, her mother attended night school to obtain her Master’s in Education and became the Ballston Spa Middle School nurse. Hoffman realized some of the schoolchildren’s problems were related to a poor diet and she started serving them breakfast at her cost. When the number of children served breakfast grew to 25, Hoffman asked the school board for funds to provide breakfast. The school board refused the money and ordered her to stop providing breakfasts to the students. Malakay overheard her mother explain to the children that, now that they know how to make breakfast, they must prepare breakfast themselves before coming to school. Malakay observed her mother’s grief in announcing the end of breakfasts to the pupils. Malakay also learned that officials who run institutions hate change, no matter how small, even as small as a peanut butter sandwich given to a six-year-old.
George Betor was raised Greek Orthodox, which meant that as a child he spent Sundays standing during four-hour services. He did not attend church as an adult, upon the excuse he attended enough services by age seventeen to last his lifetime. Evelyn Hoffman’s family was excommunicated from the Catholic Church when her parents divorced. The mother took her children to the Episcopal Church, an institution founded on Henry VIII’s desire for a divorce. Malakay’s father drank, gambled, and attended church only on rare High Holy Days, but the Episcopal priest never condemned him. Malakay’s father jokingly complained that regular church attendees should stay home to leave room for the real sinners. Unlike many who leave churches, Malakay encountered no bad experiences with organized religion. She recalls with fondness high church rituals and well-meaning parishioners.
Ballston Spa, New York, is minutes from the resort town of Saratoga Springs, the summer home of the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra and the NYC Ballet. In the arts-blessed village, children attended afternoon performances for free. A young Malakay Betor heard bands like The Who and Pink Floyd and she loafed in coffee houses where popular folk singers performed. At famous Caffé Lena’s, where Don McLean first performed American Pie, Malakay listened to Utah Phillips perform. Phillips, a folk singer, storyteller and poet, chronicled the struggles of labor unions and promoted the International Workers of the World in his music, actions and words.
Malakay Betor gained an interest in labor history from Utah Phillips, who died in 2008. Malakay http://www.thelongmemory.com/may yet join the IWW in his memory. One of Malakay’s heroines is Helen Keller, who died when Malakay was ten years old. Malakay rues that historians emphasize facets of Keller’s life, other than her membership in the IWW and her campaigns for women’s rights, workers’ rights, and socialism.
Between the ages of ten and fourteen, Malakay Betor experienced the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, the My Lai Massacre, and the Kent State shootings. She observed ruins from riots in Washington, D.C., when she visited relatives in the nation’s capitol. Then came Watergate. By age fourteen, Malakay Betor knew she was a Democrat.
Malakay Betor attended State University of New York, at Albany, and garnered a degree in English. At college, Malakay learned of Noam Chomsky, who created the modern theory of linguistics and discovered a unifying thread through the world’s languages. Twenty years passed before Malakay learned of Chomsky’s politics. School taught her only half of the story of both Noam Chomsky and Helen Keller.
In 1976, one of Malakay Betor’s college roommates informed Malakay that her cousin was running for United States President. The cousin, Jimmy Carter, won. Malakay Betor considers Carter one of the nation’s best president and she knows him to be the best ex-president ever.
At college, Malakay Betor met Alan Hopko. After graduation, Alan went to Europe and Malakay journeyed to San Francisco with her best friend Berta. In San Francisco, Malakay gained employment at Bank of America, assisting with a credit rating study. Malakay learned that banks want some debtors to default. Malakay also worked in the Bank of America equal employment opportunity office, where she learned that industry sets farcical minority and women hiring goals.
Malakay Betor moved to San Francisco a few months after the murders of Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk and the Jonestown Massacre. San Francisco was reeling. Malakay wondered why conservatives are fearmongers when progressives are the ones murdered?
Several years later, San Francisco gained headline news with reports of six young men seriously ill with a mysterious ailment. Months later the number of sick was 12, then 25, then they stopped announcing numbers. According to Malakay Betor, the AIDS epidemic brought out the best and worst in people. In 1982, marchers in San Francisco’s Gay Day parade sung I Will Survive. Two years earlier, marchers in the parade had celebratorily sang We Are Family. The Gay community in San Franciso impressed Malakay by its facing an unprecedented tragedy with grace, courage and humor. She imagines lepers in medieval Europe were treated with more kindness than early AIDS victims.
Alan Hopko joined Malakay Betor in San Francisco and the two married in Berkeley in 1982. Alan worked for the Department of Defense, in San Mateo. The newlyweds could not afford to buy a house in Berkeley so they moved to Davis outside of Sacramento where Kadin, their oldest son was born. Alan Hopko then gained employment with the Bureau of Reclamation, but shortly after Kadin’s birth, Alan lost his job in a reduction in force. He found a job in Germany with the United States Department of Defense and, in 1986, the young family moved to Frankfurt, where second son Zach was born.
In Frankfurt, Malakay Betor observed the underbelly of the American empire. A US soldier murdered his German wife every couple of months. Frankfurt was pristine, but around the US army base, trash and graffiti abounded in the streets and subways. German wives and children of US soldiers received an extra stipend, kindergeld, from the German government because American enlisted men were paid poorly. Once the Berlin wall collapsed and Germany united, German patience for American guests evaporated. Malakay Betor does not understand the cavalier attitude of Americans who wish to impose our military in foreign countries. The United States would never tolerate a reciprocal situation. Malakay Betor pictures a hypothetical, ironic scene of a thousand, foreign-speaking, armed, teenage German soldiers wandering American streets
While in Germany, Malakay Betor noticed that the poor and uneducated comprise the American volunteer army. On Christmas during their last year in Germany, Malakay and Alan hosted four army wives and their children, whose husbands and fathers had been deployed to the first Gulf War. Malakay asked if they ever believed their husbands might be sent to war and they unanimously responded: “no.” They had no memory of Vietnam and had bought the propaganda of America being invincible and righteous. The wives considered anyone who opposed war to be unpatriotic and enemies of their husbands. The servicemen wives were young, scared and emotionally lost. The stress placed on the young families was unbearable. One lady stated that, in the months preceding deployment, every woman she knew in her housing area had been beaten by her husband. The army gave absurd projections of 50,000 US soldiers killed in the first month of the Gulf War, while Malakay explained to the women that, during the eight years in Vietnam, America lost less than 60,000 soldiers. The remarks brought no comfort to the wives.
While Malakay Betor resided in Germany, the Armed Forces Network radio station changed from a rock format to country western programming. Country songs rarely protest war or criticize the government. The network also replaced ecumenical religious programs with political “family values” broadcasts such as James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. Malakay recalled singing Onward Christian Soldiers in church as a child, but disagreed with Dobson as to the message in the hymn.
Malakay Betor views the United States military as cannon fodder for the poor. The military places resourceless young people in incomprehensible situations with the lie that they have a “chosen service.” Malakay recalls her conversations with military wives during the first Gulf War, which lasted a few months, and she wonders what pain military families now suffer with multiple deployments. She is not surprised that soldiers kill themselves almost daily. Malakay observes that wealthy Americans rarely have contact with military personnel. According to Malakay, the genius behind America’s all volunteer army is the creation of a disposable class of underprivileged beings.
Despite peace advocacy, Malakay Betor’s family has not shrunk from military service. In addition to Alan’s service with the Department of Defense, Monica Betor, Malakay’s sister, served as a tanker pilot in the Air Force and her brother John remains a helicopter pilot in the National Guard. The brother turned 50, while serving in Iraq. As the Assistant Fire Chief for Saratoga, John Betor assisted in clearing New York City streets of rubble after 9/11.
When Alan Hopko’s job assignment in Frankfurt ended, Alan gained a position with the Department of Defense in London, Ontario, where he oversaw the manufacture of light armored vehicles. Malakay Betor adored Canada as a compassionate society, not afraid to address wrongs of the past and courageous enough to prepare for the future.
While the Betor-Hopko family lived in Canada, doctors offered to treat Kadin and Zach for free when they learned they were Americans. Malakay observed the Canadians’ fear of the American health system. Malakay’s friend Berta emigrated to Canada, while Malakay resided there. In Canada, Berta was diagnosed with leukemia and given a bone marrow transplant fifteen years ago. She now lives a healthy life. When visiting Berta during Berta’s treatment, Malakay met other cancer patients, who spoke of pain and fear but never mentioned worries over money.
Another of Malakay’s childhood friend, Debi, who toiled as a waitress, was also diagnosed with leukemia. The physician who diagnosed her refused to treat her because she had no insurance. One cannot gain effective cancer treatment in emergency rooms, so Debi moved from New York to Massachusetts to obtain state provided medical care. Debi died anyway at age 23, and Malakay wonders if Debi might have survived had she been treated earlier. Malakay disdains the American character flaw of kicking a person when she is down and blaming the victim.
Malakay Betor is critical of the American media. While living in Canada and Germany, she noticed a different perspective in the media. In Germany, during the Iran-Contra scandal, the BBC interviewed Abulhassan Banisadr, the first President of Iran after the overthrow of the Shah. Banisadr related that the Reagan presidential campaign negotiated a deal to prolong the Iranian hostage crisis until after Carter left office. Malakay had followed Watergate as a child and read All the Presidents Men, by Woodward and Bernstein. She assumed the American press would cover Banisadr’s testimony, but later discovered no one in the States had heard the story. Malakay Betor thanks Al Gore for promoting the Internet, which provides information beyond the news aired by five networks. Like history books’ omission of information about the political views of Helen Keller and Noam Chomsky, the American media avoids important news stories.
Upon returning to the United States, Malakay Betor realized she must pry information from alternative sources of news. She subscribes to Mother Jones, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting newsletters, the Hightower Report, and the Nation. On the Internet, Malakay turns to Democracy Now!, her favorite source of daily news, Antiwar Radio, which provides legitimate critique of Democrats, and Seeing Red Radio, which sates her socialist sentiments.
Malakay Betor regrets the United States’ enormous prison population. She laments that the Democratic Party and the ACLU did not aggressively advocate Washington’s proposed initiative I-1068, which would have legalized marijuana. She blames the soaring prison population, especially among females, to the lost drug war.
Malakay Betor preaches against corporate power and demands that corporations be stripped of constitutional privileges. She disdains copyright laws, which result from corporate power and greed. Malakay scorns the government’s privatization of services, which encourages war, pollution, incarceration, and misery. She regrets that Americans are ignorant of corporate control and influence.
Malakay Betor will not shop at Walmart. According to Malakay, Walmart is to capitalism what wife beaters are to families.
Malakay Betor enjoys documentary films and hopes to form a Viewing Liberally group. Recently Malakay watched Gasland, a 2010 film documenting the horrific impact upon American communities by the method of natural gas drilling, known as hydraulic fracturing. The documentary was more disturbing than Burning our Future, about the coal industry, and Black Wave, about the Exxon Valdez spill. She encourages the nuclear industry to promote the three documentaries.
When not watching political or social documentaries, Malakay Betor enjoys old films and new music. Malakay’s favorite film is High Noon, the story in real time of a western marshal left to confront a gang of killers by himself because of the cowardice of his community. Her favorite movie quote comes from the lighthearted Harvey: “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.” Malakay substitutes “kind” for “pleasant” in the quote.
Malakay Betor is presently and slowly reading The Eustace Diamonds, by Anthony Trollope, and quickly reading Free Lunch, by David Cay Johnston. Her family gave her a new iPad for Mother’s Day, which she takes everywhere. Malakay hopes to be stranded somewhere long enough to read half the free books she downloaded on her iPad. When Malakay dines out, she chooses Chinese or Indian cuisine.
Malakay Betor rather spend time with her husband and sons than others, and, since she rarely convinces them to leave home, she mostly stays in. Malakay shuns her picture being taken so she facetiously tells photographers that pictures steal her soul. Since Americans rarely challenge any spiritual belief regardless how silly, Malakay’s excuse goes unquestioned.
Despite what others may think of her, Malakay Betor considers herself a normal American. As a child, she observed the Williams family portrayed on the Danny Thomas Show, in which a Lebanese man was married to an Irish woman. Despite Malakay’s father being Syrian and her mother being German, the Betor family resembled the Williams’ family.
Malakay Betor and her two sons, Zach and Kadin, served as volunteers on the 2008 George Fearing congressional campaign. She was honored as the Benton County Democrat of the Year for 2009. She often attends Drinking Liberally, in Richland, where she quietly asserts her loud views and dispenses documentary videos to her peace comrades.Jennifer McCarthy Grant County State Committee Woman Vice Chair Fourth CD Democrats
Jennifer McCarthy was born in 1970 in Quincy, Massachusetts, the first of three children of Paul F. and Susan L. McCarthy. Jennifer, with her sister and brother, grew up in Marshfield, Massachusetts, a quaint seaside town named for its salt water marshes. Jennifer’s father worked as a union consultant, organizer and trainer. Paul was a longtime member of the Marshfield Democratic Town Committee and young Jennifer occasionally accompanied him to committee meetings.
In addition to working at home, Susan McCarthy co-managed a little general store and served in various community volunteer positions. Later Jennifer’s mother commenced a typing service, which evolved into a successful resume writing business.
At age fourteen, Jennifer McCarthy fractured her skull in a car accident, resulting in a severe traumatic brain injury and a three-week medically-induced coma. Jennifer was paralyzed on the left side of her body and spent three and a half months in a rehabilitation hospital. She relearned to walk, to read, to write, and to play piano, starting by only playing with her right hand and even playing the left hand score with her right hand.
Immediately following the automobile accident, Jennifer McCarthy also suffered double vision, which instead of being corrected was “ignored” by her brain. This anomaly led to a lack of depth perception, which in turn led to what she perceived as clumsiness.
At a young age, Jennifer McCarthy developed an interest in foreign languages and cultures and spent her high school senior year as an exchange student in Sweden. She attended prestigious Mt. Holyoke College, in South Hadley, Massachusetts, one of the oldest women’s colleges in the nation. Jennifer graduated in 1992 with a double major in French and German. In 1992, she and her father organized a chicken barbecue to support Bill Clinton’s run for the presidency.
Jennifer McCarthy spent the second half of 1992 and early 1993 in Prague, Czech Republic, teaching English at Vysoka Skola Ekonomika (Prague University of Economics) and as an English tutor at a French/Czech semi-conductor company. She then returned to Marshfield for one year, where she served as a clerk/typist for the National Park Service at the Boston National Historical Park. In 1994, Jennifer entered influential Washington University, in St. Louis, where she earned a Masters degree in French Literature and gained a teaching certificate in French and German. In 1994, Jennifer was elected an alternate delegate to the Massachusetts State Democratic convention, during which John John Kennedy introduced his uncle Teddy as the Democratic nominee for United States Senate.
Jennifer McCarthy met husband Dennis Knepp, from Wichita, at Washington University. During the courtship, Jennifer taught Exploratory German to eighth graders for three years, while Dennis earned his PhD in Philosophy. In 2000, Dennis Knepp lassoed a professorship at Big Bend Community College, in Moses Lake, where Jennifer now also teaches French and German on a part-time basis.
As a result of her teenage injury, Jennifer McCarthy seeks to educate survivors and the public at large about brain injury, a silent epidemic which inflicts two million Americans each year. Since November 2009, Jennifer has been a volunteer facilitator of the Moses Lake Brain Injury Support Group under the auspices of the Brain Injury Association of Washington.
At age thirty-seven, Jennifer McCarthy was diagnosed with four separate vision disorders. She then underwent successful vision therapy, at the Pasco Vision Clinic. Jennifer’s optometrist and she concluded that Jennifer probably had an eye misalignment at birth, but compensated for the anomaly until her brain injury at age fourteen. Jennifer has now retrained her brain how to use her eyes and has thereby gained perfect depth perception. The vision therapy enabled Jennifer to think more efficiently and increased her happiness.
Jennifer McCarthy’s traumatic brain injury left her with other deficiencies. She has, for example, a short attention span for music and pictures, but others, such as a tendency toward memories lapses, are capably overcome with the help of a calendar and Blackberry.
Jennifer McCarthy’s important issues include labor, agriculture, and education. She is also passionate about women’s rights. Jennifer treasures Iron Jawed Angels, an HBO movie about Alice Paul, a Quaker suffragette. Alice Paul and Lucy Burns considered the women’s movement too conservative and so formed the National Women’s Party in 1916. The organization introduced methods used by the suffrage movement in Britain, including demonstrations, parades, mass meetings, picketing, suffrage watch fires, and hunger strikes. Press coverage of the tactics finally gained women the right to vote on a national basis. In 1923, Paul drafted a proposed Equal Rights Amendment. McCarthy shares the same birthday, January 11, with her political role model, Alice Paul.
Jennifer McCarthy is a Democrat because she deems the Democratic Party to be the party of working people. She works for party values and for the party organization from a yearning to promote democracy.
Jennifer McCarthy inserted herself in central Washington Democratic politics in 2004, when she was appointed PCO for Moses Lake’s Precinct 3. She has won reelection, in a landslide, for the position ever since. Jennifer has served as the State Committee Woman for the Grant County Democrats for two terms, and recently was elected as 2nd Vice Chair for the 4th CD Democrats. During a Grant County Democratic Central Committee meeting, Jennifer and George Fearing formed the Washington State Hilarious Democrats Caucus.
Jennifer McCarthy and Dennis Knepp are proud parents of eight-year-old Alexandra and six-year-old Arlo. Jennifer enjoys playing piano and guitar and singing solo or in the company of her talented husband and children. Dennis plays the trumpet. Both children sing with Voices of a New Day, the Moses Lake community children’s choir. Jennifer loves reading, cooking, walking and talking with friends.
Dennis and Jennifer enjoy the HBO programs The Sopranos and Deadwood. Jennifer’s favorite musicians and songwriters are Tom Waits and Neil Young. She and her extended family spend summer vacations in Wareham, Massachusetts, which happens to be the Fearing ancestral home and location of town museum is called “The Fearing Inn and Tavern.”
Former Mayor of Yakima
Chair of Washington Horse Racing Commission
Former Yakima County Democratic Central Committee Chair
Paul George was born in Glendive, Montana, in1930, to Peter George, his Greek immigrant father, and Helen Seeberger, the fourth of twelve children of Nicholas and Katherine Seeberger. The Seeberger family homesteaded near Glen Ullin, North Dakota, in 1902.
In the depths of the Great Depression, Peter and Helen George nurtured five children in a small rental house and lamented the insolvency of the couple’s candy store-eatery that the worked hard to establish. The family lived for a period on the father’s monthly Works Progress Administration (WPA) wages of $44 per month. Like millions of other dirt-poor Americans, Peter and Helen voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 and every four years thereafter. The couple were devoted to FDR and the New Deal that saved the country by preserving capitalism while creating Social Security and other programs that enabled them to live comfortably in retirement.
Peter George was toiling as head cook at Glendive’s Superior Cafe in December 1941, when the United States entered World War II. Ten months later, the George family joined the mass exodus of Montanans and Dakotans who streamed to better-paying jobs in war industries on the West Coast, including Washington State.
Paul George considers himself born a Democrat. Although he did not comprehend the politics of the 1930s, he understood life was hard and that his family was poor. Paul still recalls hobos at the back door, asking for a sandwich that his mother always gave.
Despite the difficult days, the George home was a happy home, with existence rooted in family, friends, relatives and the Catholic Church. The George living room maintained a big picture of President Roosevelt, the only president Paul ever knew. The young Paul cried in April 1945 when FDR died.
Paul was educated in Tacoma and graduated from St. Martin’s College in 1952 with an English-journalism degree. The army drafted him that summer and Paul served two years, mostly on Okinawa.
Paul George moved to Yakima in 1957. He served as reporter and later sports editor with the Yakima Herald Republic, beginning that year and through 1971. He resigned to become general manager of Yakima Meadow racetrack, a Class A one mile dirt oval with seating for about 3,500 fans.
Throughout his newspaper and racing careers, Paul was active in civic affairs, especially with the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau, where he held numerous positions, including chairman. He served on the City’s Advisory Committee that broke ground on the Yakima Convention Center in 1975. Paul was also active on the committee that brought cable television to Yakima. He also served on the Sports Commission, was three-term president of the Yakima Monday Morning Quarterbacks Club, and carnival co-chair for the Hoover School PTA. Paul held membership in Toastmasters and charter membership and former president of the Yakima Newspaper Guild. He served as a director of RepubCo Credit Union.
For twenty-five years, Paul George continued in the horse racing industry before retiring in 1996 as director of communications for United Tote, Inc, a national pari-mutuel wagering system supplier and NASDAQ corporation, headquartered in Billings, Montana.
Paul George returned to Yakima in 1997, where Janet, his wife of forty-three years, died in 1999. With encouragement from others, Paul entered the public arena. He was elected to the City Council in 2001, but unsuccessful in two campaigns for Yakima County Commissioner. Paul proudly served as Mayor of Yakima in 2004 and 2005. During city service, he played a critical role in securing state funding to rebuild Yakima’s Downtown and restore the city’s Historic Front Street District.
In 2006, Governor Christine Gregoire appointed Paul George to the Washington Horse Racing Commission. Paul currently serves as the Commission’s chairman.
Paul George served two terms as chair of the Yakima County Democratic Central Committee in the 2000 decade and currently holds the position of County State Committee Man. He has read volumes about Franklin Roosevelt and ranks him alongside Washington and Lincoln as our greatest president. Paul is forever a Democrat because the Party is dedicated to helping people. He is proud to be known as a child of the New Deal.
BIOGRAPHY: Mary Margaret Stephenson
Chair of the Yakima County Democratic Central Committee
Mary Stephenson, Chairwoman of the Yakima County Democrats, has used a broad background in the sciences and humanities to serve others as an “administrator,” a word derived from “minister.” Her life has been devoted to enabling others to amicably resolve disputes and achieve their greatest human potential.
Mary Margaret Stephenson was born August 7, 1944, and raised in Mount Vernon, Skagit County, Washington. Her parents were Marie (Rings) and James Donahue. They having separated before she was born, Mary never knew her biological father. Mary considers her “dad” to be her stepfather and adoptive father, Alfred Husby, who married her mother when Mary was six and who later adopted Mary when she was fifteen.
Mary’s grandparents on both sides immigrated to America — her maternal grandparents from Germany and fraternal grandparents from Norway. Having struggled through the Great Depression, her mother and father were Roosevelt Democrats.
Mary Husby Stephenson’s two brothers were respectively seven and eight years younger than she. Mary cared for the boys after school, while her mother worked as a nurse. Because her father was blind, Mary was responsible for preparing dinner and doing household chores. Her brothers still look up to Mary as their big sister.
Mary Stephenson attended Catholic schools from kindergarten through eighth grade, receiving a medal for her scholarship. In addition to looking after her younger brothers, Mary worked in the fields in the summer. She also participated in 4-H, focusing on gardening and cooking projects. She enjoyed art, singing and drama, and graduated from Mount Vernon High School.
Fascinated with the developing space program, Mary decided, when she was in the eighth grade, to become a scientist. Mary took a pre-med major in college with an emphasis in biochemistry, and a minor in sociology. Mary met her husband, Jim, at Oregon State University. While courting, the two learned about the birds and the bees, with Jim studying ornithology and Mary entomology. Jim obtained an undergraduate zoology degree and a graduate degree in wildlife management. Mary forewent medical school and took courses in botany, ecology and field biology. The two married while Mary was a college senior and Jim a graduate student. Mary recently conducted a genealogical search of her husband’s family, tracing its origins to Jamestown in 1620.
After school, the couple moved east, where Jim Stephenson took a position at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland, working with endangered species. All three of their children were born in the state named after Mary. During our nation’s upheavals with the Vietnam War, peace marches, race riots, and Woodstock, Mary Stephenson kept busy caring for her three small children behind the high fence of the research center.
Jim and Mary determined that they did not wish to raise their children in the charged atmosphere of school desegregation and moved back West, ultimately settling in Olympia. There, Jim worked for the Bureau of Sport Fisheries & Wildlife on a salmon spawning study, which was later used in the famous 1974 Boldt decision that affirmed Native Americans’ right to harvest salmon in Washington state. The federal case demonstrated that the depletion of salmon runs was due to overfishing, pollution, dams and other modern causes, and not traditional native fishing which had existed for generations prior to white settlement. Jim gathered data on the streams of the Olympic Peninsula and Western Washington to support the federal case against the State of Washington. Jim Stephenson later worked as the Fish & Wildlife Manager for Ft. Lewis over twenty years.
While her children matured, Mary Stephenson grew active in church activities, as a religious educator and coordinator for community volunteers. This activity carried Mary from the sciences to the humanities. Mary served as President of Church Women United, an ecumenical organization, and on state and national boards of CWU. She also returned to graduate school. She became certified as a Pastoral Minister and Master Catechist, through the Archdiocese of Seattle. Through the diocese, Mary received training in pastoral counseling and community organization, with internships serving Vietnamese refugees and performing community organization in southeast Seattle.
No parish hired Mary Stephenson. Instead, Mary was hired as the first Family Court Commissioner for Thurston and Mason Counties, by Judge Gerry Alexander, now a Washington Supreme Court Justice. In this role, Mary developed a conciliation court, providing mediation for families in child custody disputes. She was elected President of the Washington Association of Family Courts and helped establish divorce mediation in other counties. Mary’s work resulted in state law now requiring divorcing parents to develop a parenting plan.
Due to a lack of funds, family court in Thurston County was abolished and Mary lost her position. Nevertheless, she lobbied for state legislation that now funds family courts though a surcharge on the marriage license fee.
A Thurston County Commissioner lost reelection and hired the unemployed Mary Stephenson to spearhead the census drive in Washington’s Third Congressional District. Mary oversaw census work in “Special Places,” which included parks, hospitals, prisons, hotels, motels, trailer parks, and homeless sanctuaries. The District extended from the Olympic Peninsula to Skamania County, and the special places included whole towns, such as Forks, Randle and Packwood. Complications resulting from Mount St. Helens’ eruption taught Mary that she could accomplish almost anything! Upon completion of the census, Mary temporary worked with the state Department of Social and Health Services on a research project to determine the future population of the state’s prisons. It was during this project that she used a computer for the first time.
The Skokomish Tribe next hired Mary Stephenson to provide child welfare services. Mary there developed a program providing preventive as well as intervention services for troubled families. With the help of Intertribal Court System attorneys, she developed child welfare regulations that incorporated mediation in the process and provided training for tribal members that enabled them to continue programs after Mary left employment. Mary also garnered state funding for tribes, enabling them to provide their own child protective services.
When Mary Stephenson’s position with the tribe ended, she served as Centralia College’s program manager for the federally funded Educational Talent Search Program. The program provided counseling and assistance to disadvantaged students and adults. Program staff assisted students with setting and achieving post-secondary educational goals. The program also assisted adults wishing to return to school with completing financial aid forms. So many new students enrolled that Centralia College established a Student Services Program, which Mary also directed. Mary excelled as a grants writer, not only for programs she administered, but for other college programs, such as child care, diversity, and student community service.
With a strong background in mediation, Mary Stephenson later assisted in establishing the Dispute Resolution Centers for Thurston and Lewis Counties.
Jim Stephenson retired from federal service in 1994 and began work with the State National Guard at the Yakima Training Center. The couple tired of Jim’s commute between Yakima and Olympia, so Mary told Jim to “find me some trees” on the east side of the mountains. The two discovered an idyllic home on the North Fork of Ahtanum Creek west of Yakima, where they established “elk camp” as a refuge for friends and family. Jim continues to work as a big game biologist for the Yakama Nation. Mary worked for the Yakima and Kittitas County Dispute Resolution Center for several years, and also taught English pro bono at La Casa Hogar.
Jim and Mary Stephenson helped establish the Yakima Farmer’s Market and delivered produce there for five years. The couple still maintains a large garden and many fruit trees, where friends and family help in the harvest.
Mary Stephenson’s religious faith has been the underlying factor of her life. Mary lives by the Great Commandments: “ Love God with your whole heart, and your whole soul and your whole strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” She adheres to the principles in the Sermon on the Mount. Based upon an extensive theological background, Mary understands that the Bible should not always be read literally, but is best understood when considering its context, including the culture in which it was written.
Catholic tradition promotes social justice and compassion for the “stranger,” the vulnerable and impoverished. Along these lines, Mary believes political action is vital to a just society and that the Democratic Party exemplifies these values. Mary is a Democrat because she could not be anything else! Her political ideals are as much a part of her as her religious faith.
Having grown up in a poor working class family with a mother being the primary support of the family, Mary believed the Democratic Party best represented her family’s interests. While in high school, Mary was deeply affected by John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech challenge to “ask not what your country can do for you, but rather ask what you can do for your country.” Mary’s heroes include Martin Luther King Jr. She participated in the women’s movement in Washington State. As the representative of Church Women United to the State Women’s Coalition, Mary worked with women who became political leaders, such as Jolene Unsoeld, Patty Murray, and Karen Fraser.
As a government employee and mediator, Mary Stephenson avoided party politics. Upon retirement and the move to Yakima, however, Mary became active in the Democratic Party, where she hopes to employ her organizational skills. Mary served as PCO for her rural precinct and later as State Committeewoman for Yakima County.
Mary, Jim, and daughter Ann attended the crowded caucus of 2004, but split the family vote. Mary became a Kerry delegate, Ann a Dean delegate, and Jim a Kucinich delegate.
Mary Stephenson served as Credentials Chair for the Yakima County Convention in 2008, and subsequently developed a database of participants. She has since learned to use Vote Builder to great advantage.
In January 2009, Yakima County Democrats elected Mary Stephenson as Chair of the Yakima County Democratic Central Committee. Her goal as chairwoman is to increase participation by diverse groups and develop an infra-structure that will elect Democrats to office.
Despite focusing now on the immediate needs of the Yakima Democratic Party, Mary Stephenson continues her love of music and drama by singing in the choir at Holy Family Church, the Yakima Symphony Chorus, and the historic Ahtanum Mission. She participates in the Audubon Society and the Native Plant Society and is a member of a local garden club. She assists in the education of two granddaughters. Because of a son’s mental illness, Mary is involved in the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a grassroots organization that provides support, education, advocacy, and research for people and their families living with mental illnesses.
Mary is a voracious reader, and although the Stephensons are not subscribers of television service, they enjoy attending movies and watching past seasons of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Dexter,” and “Bones” on DVD. Mary Stephenson looks forward to one day retiring a second time, when she plans to make quilts from reams of fabric she has stored.
PAST DEMOCRATIC STATE COMMITTEEMAN SKAMANIA COUNTY
Norm Luther was born in 1936 in Palo Alto, California, the second of three children. Norm’s father held a temporary teaching job at Stanford University after receiving his Ph.D. in mathematics at the university. His mother met her future husband while a student in his class; she ultimately received her Masters Degree in Romance Languages at Stanford.
When Norm was three months old, the Luther family moved to Salem, Oregon, where Norm’s father chaired the Mathematics Department at Willamette University. His mother substitute taught high school math and Latin.
Norm Luther’s parents fostered an interest in politics in their son. They registered as Republicans so they could vote in the Oregon primaries for Mark Hatfield as Governor and Senator, having known Hatfield from his days as a Political Science professor at Willamette University. Nevertheless, the parents never voted Republican for United States President, other than the father’s vote for Herbert Hoover in 1928.
The young Norm Luther overheard his parents speak of the Great Depression and McCarthyism. Norm’s parents escaped the Depression’s worst effects including twenty-five percent unemployment, but identified with beggars in the streets. When the Reagan administration began rampant deregulation, Norm’s father predicted another significant economic depression, but he did not live long enough to see his prediction come true with further deregulation in the Bush era.
As an avid sports fan, Norm Luther saw the movie The Jackie Robinson Story. Norm was then 14 and the movie made a lasting impact. He was a sheltered and naive boy growing up in Salem and shocked to vividly view the prejudicial treatment of Jackie Robinson when he broke the major league baseball color barrier. Norm later discovered that Salem real estate agents followed a “gentleman’s agreement” to bar people of color from the community.
From an early age, Norm Luther enjoyed neighborhood sports. He joined his junior high school basketball team, making the “obvious” decision of practicing basketball every night at the expense of violin lessons, even though he had more natural ability in music. For most of his youth, Norm wanted to become a sports writer. During high school, he wrote sports as well as a school column for the Salem newspaper, the Oregon Statesman. For several summers during junior high school, Norm had a paying job as official scorekeeper and statistician for the Salem City Softball League. He played on the tennis team in high school, winning one trophy, but later found when he attended college that a casual California player could easily whip a serious Oregon player.
Norm Luther graduated from high school in Salem. He received his B.S. in psychology and mathematics from Stanford University, where he met Roz, his wife of 52 years. Norm obtained his M.S. and Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Iowa, after which he was a National Science Foundation post-doctoral fellow for one year at the University of California, Berkeley.
Norm Luther spent twenty years on the mathematics faculty at Washington State University, which years included a stint as Visiting Professor of Mathematics at Albany State University, a traditionally Black institution in Albany, Georgia. Then for fourteen years, Norm was Research Fellow at the East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, performing research in mathematical demography and conducting workshops on analysis of census and survey data in several Asian countries, particularly India and China.
The medical profession runs in Norm Luther’s family. Roz is a retired medical technologist. Norm’s older brother was a psychiatrist, and his younger sister, a homemaker, married a otolaryngologist.
Norm and Roz Luther parented four children. The oldest son headquarters at the World Vegetable Center in Taiwan, but assists farmers all over the world in Integrated Pest Management and other agricultural practices. The second son works as an emergency room physician in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, having earlier served as a doctor in Bolivia. Norm’s oldest daughter served in government positions in Honolulu, Hawaii, and currently works as Journal Clerk for the Hawaii State Senate. The younger daughter worked for travel agencies until unfortunately and recently being sidelined with multiple sclerosis.
Norm Luther voted Republican several times, based upon civil rights considerations, when moderate Republicans existed. He voted for Richard Nixon, over John F. Kennedy, in 1960, in part, because of Jackie Robinson’s endorsement of Nixon. Norm voted three times and actively campaigned once for Dan Evans for Washington Governor. Evans established the Washington Human Rights Commission to fight discrimination and, in 1968, Pasco’s Art Fletcher, the father of affirmative action, ran for Lieutenant Governor as Evans’ Republican running mate. The two offices are voted on separately and Fletcher narrowly lost.
Norm Luther is a Protestant Christian and attributes his political party affiliation to his Christianity. Norm notes that a study by the Sojourners group of Biblical scholars found that wealth and poverty comprise the second most common topic in the Old Testament, the first being idolatry. Likewise, in the New Testament, Jesus talked more about wealth and poverty than almost any other subject, even prayer.
Norm Luther faults the Religious Right for adopting common United States cultural attitudes, rather than Biblical principles. A Chinese-born colleague of Norm’s, at the East-West Center, commented that the poor in the United States suffer punishment both in the form of poverty and a social stigma. Americans blame the poor for their own impoverishment.
In retirement, Norm and Roz Luther moved from an unaffordable paradise, Hawaii, to an affordable paradise, Underwood, Washington. Underwood lies along the scenic Columbia River Gorge opposite Hood River, Oregon. The community is in that small portion of Skamania County resting in Washington’s Fourth Congressional District.
In retirement, Norm Luther formerly served as Democratic State Committeeman from Skamania County. Roz continues to serve as State Committeewoman. Norm managed the February 2008 Democratic caucus for the eastern district of Skamania County and phone banking for the same area during the 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008 elections.
Norm and Roz Luther have traveled in twenty-four countries and every continent except Antarctica. Norm mentors in after school programs, for which he also advocates for funding. He enjoys church work and activities with his four children and seven grandchildren, including backpacking. He participates in micro-lending. Norm serves on the Board of the Gorge Community Foundation and received the Mt. Adams Chamber of Commerce 2009 Lifetime Service Award.
Norm keeps fit by walking two miles each day. He maintains his interest in professional sports. Norm’s favorite athletes are Jackie Robinson and Henry Aaron. Like many others, Norm believes Hammering Hank did not receive the publicity he deserved.
Norm Luther’s favorite book in retirement is Team of Rivals,a political biography of his favorite Republican, Abraham Lincoln, and written by the incomparable Doris Kearns Goodwin. The biography was Barack Obama’s first read after winning the presidential election. As a child, Norm enjoyed biographies, including books on Abraham Lincoln and Simon Bolivar. For Norm’s recent birthday, Roz presented him a new book, The Last Hero; A Life of Henry Aaron.