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ERA Oral History Project


Gayle Barry

Gayle Barry
Gayle Barry

A graduate of the University of Washington Law School, Gayle Barry served as an assistant attorney general for the state of Washington from 1962 until she retired in 1996. Her professional involvement in women’s issues began with her appointment to the Interagency Committee on the Status of Women, where she worked on community property issues, and continued when she was assigned as legal counsel to the newly created Washington State Women’s Council. In this position, she was involved in revising gender-specific statutes once the state equal rights amendment was passed and also worked on redrafting rape legislation. Gayle Barry currently lives in Medina, Washington.
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 Jean Marie Brough

Jean Marie Brough
Jean Marie Brough

Born in Washington, DC, Jean Marie Brough graduated from Auburn University with a master’s degree in education. In 1965 she and her husband moved to Seattle, where she continued a teaching career until her daughter was born. She joined the League of Women Voters and became a member of their Status of Women Committee. These activities led her into a variety of other volunteer positions, including fundraising chair for HJR61, the state equal rights amendment campaign, lobbyist for the federal ERA and founding member of the Washington State Women’s Political Caucus. She also held a number of offices, including co-president of the Seattle NOW chapter and member of the national board of NOW. In 1982 she ran for the Washington State legislature, where she represented the 30th District in the House until 1995. She continues to live in the Federal Way area.
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Mary Lou Dickerson

Mary Lou Dickerson
Mary Lou Dickerson

A native of Salem, Oregon, Mary Lou Dickerson became active in women’s issues during graduate school after participating in the women’s consciousness-raising movement. She completed a master’s degree in social work at the University of Hawaii and then moved to Seattle, where she took a job in the juvenile justice system. She joined Seattle NOW and became involved in the Washington ERA Coalition, ultimately serving as co-chair. She later became a member of the Washington State legislature and has represented the 36th District in the House since 1994. Among her primary areas of interest are issues affecting children and families as well as the environment.
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Betty Fletcher

Betty Fletcher
Betty Fletcher

The daughter of an attorney, Betty Fletcher grew up in Tacoma and pursued her own law career, attending Stanford University and ultimately finishing law school at the University of Washington after having four children. She joined a law firm in Seattle and ultimately served as the first woman president of the King County Bar Association. In 1972 she was also the co-chair of the state equal rights amendment campaign and was later appointed by Governor Dan Evans to the Washington State Women’s Council. She was named to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by President Carter in 1979.
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Karen Fraser

Karen Fraser
Karen Fraser

Karen Fraser has focused much of her career in politics and public service. She was raised in Seattle and holds a BA in sociology and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Washington. She first went to Olympia as a Ford Foundation legislative intern and became a legislative liaison for several state agencies before seeking elective office. She served as a council member and mayor of Lacey, Washington, a Thurston County commissioner, and a state representative from Washington’s 22nd District before her election in 1993 as a state senator, a position she still holds. Because of her interest in public policy, she joined NOW and became active in the campaign for the state ERA. She then held the position of NOW legislative coordinator during the period when the federal Equal Rights Amendment was under consideration in Washington. She continues to support women’s issues and also focuses on environmental concerns in the Senate.
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Beverly Hubbert

Beverly Hubbert
Beverly Hubbert

Lakebay (Seattle at the time of the IWY Conferences). Attended Ellensburg IWY, observer of vote count for delegates to Houston. Church of the Latter Day Saints, homemaker, Phyllis Schlafly’s Stop the ERA Committee (beginning in 1972), Governor Ray’s advisory committee on the State Women’s Council, King County Women’s Commission, Republican Party and a Washington state delegate to the 1968 national convention. Anti-ERA.
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Georgie Bright Kunkel

Georgie Bright Kunkel
Georgie Bright Kunkel

After graduating from Chehalis High School, Georgie Bright Kunkel received a teaching certificate from Western Washington University and later completed a master’s degree in education from the University of Washington. She taught for fifteen years in public schools before becoming one of the first elementary school counselors in the state. An innovator and activist in the field of education, she was a founder of the Seattle Counselors Association, serving as its executive officer for eleven years, and also founded Women and Girls in Education in 1972. She campaigned actively for HJR61, the state equal rights amendment, and served as the president of Highline NOW and also of the Washington State NOW organization. She continues to live in Seattle and has written a book about her experiences entitled You’re Damn Right I Wear Purple: Color Me Feminist.
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Susan Lane

Susan Lane
Susan Lane

Born into a Navy family, Susan Lane traveled across the country with her mother while her father was in the military during the World War II and then settled in Seattle, where she attended school and then graduated from the University of Washington. From a young age she was bothered by the inequalities between men and women and finally found an outlet for her feelings in women’s rights movement. A meeting with Alice Paul in Washington DC was a life-changing experience; Paul encouraged her to become involved in the campaign for the ERA, which eventually propelled her into active participation in the Seattle NOW organization. She served as a co-president of Seattle NOW and also worked on legislative lobbying and public speaking for the passage of both the state and federal ERA amendments as well as for changes in the community property laws. Later she served as the head of Seattle’s Office of Women’s Rights.
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Patricia Larson and Sandra Nisbet

Larson and Nisbet
Sandra Nisbet (left) and Patricia Larson.

Pat Larson was born in Flagstaff, Arizona and earned her BA degree from San Jose State College and her Master’s degree in Theater and Speech from the University of Oregon. She has traveled extensively on her own, and in company with her husband, an anthropologist conducting field studies. While raising two children and residing in Connecticut as a “faculty wife,” Pat became heavily involved in anti-war organizing and activities, and then in the burgeoning women’s movement. She moved to Olympia, Washington in the early 1970s, her husband being a member of the founding faculty at the Evergreen State College. There, she rejoined longtime friend, Sandra Nisbet, to form the Co-Respondents, a readers’ theater performance group.

Sandra Nisbet was born in Hawaii, and grew up in California, where she attended San Jose State College, and earned a Master’s degree in Bloomington, Indiana. She, too, traveled extensively, and raised three children while following her husband’s career in various colleges as a professor of Economics; he too was a founding faculty member at Evergreen. Sandy taught Theater and worked in different settings, including in a program with women prisoners.

Pat and Sandie researched and created programs based on women’s history and literature, and performed all over Washington State and the U.S. for several years in support of the state and national ERA. They continued performing and creating programs to dramatize women’s history in many settings, and then created television programs and documentaries to reach even larger audiences. In later years, Pat and Sandra formed a company to produce several travel programs for public television.
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Janice Niemi

Janice Niemi
Janice Niemi

Janice Niemi was born in Michigan but raised in Spokane, and graduated from the University of Washington. After attending graduate school, working in the Foreign Service and starting a family, she entered law school at age thirty-six. She became a Legal Services attorney after a few years in civil law, and was later elected to the Superior Court and then the Seattle District Court. She was a founder of the Washington Women Lawyer’s Association, and she also became active speaking in favor of the passage of HJR61. Beginning in 1982 she was elected to the state House for three terms representing the 43rd District and then became a member of the Senate from 1987 to 1994.
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Roseanne McCaughey

Growing up in an Eastern Washington family with a grandfather who was an influential state legislator, Roseanne McCaughey’s Republican roots are strong. Her mother’s ill health caused her to leave Washington State University after one year and switch to Kinman Business School in Spokane.

She later returned to college and graduated cum laude in1981 as a speech communications major at the University of Washington. In the interim she married and raised two daughters while participating fully in the PTA as well as other school and community activities in Bellevue, Washington. Her opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment drew her into political activism and with several other close friends she initiated a grassroots campaign to bring the anti-ERA viewpoint to the attention of the public. With the help of Phyllis Schlafly and a lot of hard work, the group worked against the passage of the state amendment. Later, after her college graduation, she resumed her career and retired in 1993 from Microsoft. She and her husband now live in Port Ludlow, Washington.
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Lois North

Lois North
Lois North

Lois North grew up in Berkeley, California, and attended the University of California, followed by graduate work at Columbia University in New York. She came with her husband to Seattle in 1950, and after having three children, became an active member of the League of Women Voters. She participated in the League’s efforts to pass a redistricting initiative and also worked as a lobbyist for the League in Olympia. She first ran for the legislature in 1968 and after three terms in the House moved to the Senate, where she was one of only three Republican women. She became an active member of the Women’s Political Caucus and the Abortion Rights League was the prime sponsor of the state equal rights amendment. She resigned at the end of 1979 to take a position on the King County Council. She is now retired but still lives in Seattle and remains active in a variety of political and community organizations.
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Marianne Craft Norton

Marianne Craft Norton
Marianne Craft Norton

Raised on a family farm in Iowa, Marianne Craft Norton graduated from the University of Iowa and went to work at the United Nations before receiving a master’s degree in political science from Stanford University. She and her husband lived in a number of places around the country before settling on Mercer Island, where she was active in the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and her church, the Pilgrim Lutheran Church and school. She became the State Legislative Chair for the AAUW from 1971 to 1973, for which she campaigned for the ERA. Marianne was also a member of Washington Women United, the Women's Political Caucus, Northwest Women's Law Center and the executive director of the State Women's Council. She served as vice president of the board of Seattle-King County YWCA and several other boards and committees addressing women's needs, especially in the workplace. Marianne was also active in other areas of reform: open government, environmental issues and education. She has won numerous awards, including Outstanding Woman of the Decade in 1987. In later years Marianne returned to Iowa, where she and her husband raise Jacob sheep and work for farmland preservation.
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Susan Paynter

Susan Paynter
Susan Paynter

Susan Paynter grew up in Bremerton and attended Olympic College before leaving to take her first journalism job at the Bremerton Sun. She moved to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as a reporter in 1964 and then became a columnist focusing primarily on social and political topics. Civil rights and women’s issues were of particular interest to her, and she wrote the first comprehensive articles on abortion rights in the state as well as an important 12-part series on the Equal Rights Amendment. She also provided commentary for four years on National Public Radio and volunteered in a variety of community and educational organizations.
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Mary Helen Roberts

 Mary Helen Roberts
Mary Helen Roberts

Mary Helen Roberts was born in Oregon, but moved with her family to Southern California during her childhood years. After a year at Oregon State University she transferred to UCLA, where she majored in political science. Following graduation she took an internship at the Economic Development Administration, stayed to work for the McGovern presidential campaign and then in the national legislative office of Planned Parenthood. It was in Washington, DC, that she first became active in NOW and began work on the ERA campaign. She was lured back to the Northwest in 1974 by a job posting for the position of executive director of the Washington State Women’s Council, where she remained until the end of 1976. She later became involved in Washington Women United and after a brief hiatus to raise her twin daughters, she began to work in political campaigns. In 2004 she ran for the legislature in the 21st District and won a seat in the House.
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Dorothy Sale

Dorothy Sale
Dorothy Sale

Born in the borough of Manhattan in New York City in 1932, Sale came to Washington State in 1962. Her activism began earlier when she joined the League of Women Voters in Amherst, Massachusetts five years before. She immediately found the Seattle League of Women Voters. In the 60's she focused on schools and racism-- the family lived in the Central Area. By the 70's, Sale added feminism and NOW to her interests. She became co-president of Seattle NOW twice, Later in 1979, became a Field Organizer for National NOW in various parts of the United States where there were attempts to revoke ERA ratification. She was elected in 1979 as one of two NOW national board members for a large area including Washington State and five other states and was re-elected in 1981. Sale spent seven months in Oklahoma, until the ERA was lost. Sale is a founding board member of the 2007 Women’s History Consortium. She has been a member of the League of Women Voters for over fifty years.
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Rita Shaw

Rita Shaw
Rita Shaw

From an early age, Rita Shaw found her voice as an activist and supporter of political causes. Originally from New York City, she moved with her family to Los Angeles during high school and joined the Socialist Workers Party. She married a fellow party member and worked in a variety of jobs before moving to Seattle in 1971. A long-time advocate of reproductive rights, she became active in the feminist movement through Seattle NOW and worked on abortion issues as well as the Equal Rights Amendment. In 1976 she helped to develop the Washington ERA Coalition, with the goal of broadening support for the ERA in Washington and helping other states with ratification. She continues to live in Seattle and support socialist and union causes and reproductive rights.
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Gisela Taber

Gisela Taber
Gisela Taber

Gisela Taber was born in eastern Europe and immigrated to the United States as a child. She earned a Master’s degree from Washington State University and in her early career taught English. She was married and has one son. She became involved in the women’s movement in Olympia, Washington and became the first president of the Olympia chapter of NOW, where she gained some experience tracking women’s legislation in the State Legislature. In 1971, Gisela was appointed the first executive director of the newly formed Washington State Women’s Council. During her time as director the Council achieved a success record of 100% for Women’s Council request legislation, including the state and federal ERA campaigns. In 1974 Gisela left the Council to establish a women’s studies program at Lower Columbia College. She later was involved on the national level organizing 14 state International Women’s Year committees, including the Washington State committee that held the Ellensburg conference. State conference delegates participated in the National Women’s Conference, chaired by Bella Abzug. Gisela then worked in various positions, but eventually returned to a calling felt in childhood, and studied for the ministry. She has served as a United Methodist minister in four communities in Washington State and is now retired and living in Sequim, Washington.
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