Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pioneering Woman Attorney Dies

Kathleen M. Taft, UW class of 1936, died in December.

Kathleen M. Taft, 98, died December 23, 2005, in Spokane. One of the state's longest-lived lawyers, she joined the Bar in 1936 after graduating from the UW Law School. In 1950, she became Spokane County's first family court commissioner, a post she held for 27 years. Taft was mentor to countless judges and lawyers, and her distinguished work in family law was widely and frequently honored. Taft's husband, one-time Spokane mayor and state legislator Willard Taft, died in 1971. Survivors include a number of nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, and eight great-grandnieces and nephews. Always looking ahead, Taft worked until a week before suffering a stroke, and only a fortnight before a planned trip to Antarctica -- the only continent she hadn't yet visited.
In Memoriam, Wash. St. B. News, June 2006.

Her name stood out from this months list of attorneys and judges we have lost because I heard about her attending a reunion here recently and saw a profile that made her seem like quite an impressive figure: Heather Lalley, Raising the Bar: Approaching 98, Spokane's Kathleen Taft, Spokesman Review, May 15, 2005. This stood out:
For a time in the '80s, Taft became the go-to attorney in Spokane for lesbians seeking to adopt.

"We showed sympathy for them," she says. "Any of the reports that came in on them were always good. The children did well in school."
As you might have noticed in the newspapers (or in the United States Senate), lesbians forming families can still be controversial today. I wonder what Spokane thought of "Mrs. Taft," then in her 70s, serving these clients so matter of factly.

Here is the Spokesman-Review's obituary (Dec. 23, 2005).

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