SEATTLE – Former State Rep. Helen Sommers passed away Tuesday at the age of 84.
According to an oral history from the Washington State Legislature, Sommers served in the Washington House of Representatives for 36 years, winning in total 18 elections. She was known for serving as the Chair of five House committees, and for being a part of the pivotal time during the early 1970s that saw a increase in the number of female legislators. After a long yet active career, Sommers retired from the political scene in 2009.
In a statement released by U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash. District 10, the long lasting impact that Sommers made in the state of Washington was both remembered and recognized.
"Helen Sommers never stopped working for the people of Washington state...Her intellectual prowess was unmatched, and combined with a hard nosed work ethic she became a formidable force for higher education, fiscal responsibility, and women's rights,” said Heck in a press release. “She will be forever remembered, respected, and admired for what she was able to accomplish…She was a great legislator and an even better person."
Sommers' strong character and passion in helping women be elected to office was reflected upon by the House Democratic leadership.
“Helen’s reputation as a strong-willed and sometimes intimidating force in the Legislature was complemented by her wit and cunning...Her passion for electing women to office continued on throughout her career and life.” wrote the House Democractic leadership. “The House honored Helen by adopting House Concurrent Resolution 4400 to name the new ‘1063 Building’ the Helen Sommers Building. The respect and love she garnered from both Democrats and Republican alike will never be forgotten.”