by David Ammons | October 15th, 2012
Secretary of State Sam Reed paid tribute Monday to two former veteran state senators, Sid Snyder of Long Beach and Lorraine Wojahn of Tacoma. Both died over the weekend.
Reed said both retired lawmakers loom large in the state’s political history and will leave a strong and lasting legacy.
Snyder, who died at age 86 on Sunday, was a Capitol fixture for a half-century. Starting as an elevator operator, he rose to top administrative posts in both the House and Senate before becoming a senator himself in 1990. He became Democratic caucus chairman right away and then moved into the top post of majority leader. He retired from the Senate in 2002.
“I greatly admired Sid and his political skills and his personal approach. I appreciated his emphasis on civility and his moderation and his ability to get people to work across the aisle to deal with problems facing the state. He was a mentor and a guide to many, and he truly loved the institution. I think we will all remember his remarkable history of service and his staying power. He was exceptional.”
Wojahn, who died at age 92 on Saturday, was a passionate advocate for her constituents and in her 32 years of legislative service, helped pave the way for women in the Legislature, Reed said. Democrat Wojahn held many leadership posts, including president pro tem of the Senate. Reed, a trustee of the Washington State Historical Society, said Wojahn was instrumental in construction of a new state history museum and revitalization of downtown Tacoma.
“In her long and distinguished career, Lorraine was a role model for how to be an effective legislator. She was fearless and worked tirelessly for those who had no voice.”
Reed noted that the Legacy Project soon will produce a book on the life and times of Sid Snyder. The volume, featuring both biography and oral history, will be unveiled both in book form and free and online as an e-publication. Rollout ceremonies are tentatively planned for Ilwaco on Jan. 5 and in Olympia on Jan. 22. Author is Jeff Burlingame.
John Hughes, a longtime friend of Snyder’s, and chief historian for the Legacy Project, said he was happy that Snyder was able to complete the book interviews, including some great stories, before he passed away.
“Sid was truly a self-made man who ended up having a 50-year front-row seat in Olympia. I’d say he was one of the most important citizen-politicians in the history of Washington. He was influential in so many different ways, and not a typical powerbroker.”
An oral history was done earlier on Wojahn.
The photos of Snyder and Wojahn are from the State Archives’ Susan Parish Collection.