Jeannette Williams served 20 years on the City Council until she was defeated in 1989 by Cheryl Chow. She passed away in 2004. In 2009, the West Seattle Bridge was given a secondary designation of the “Jeanette Williams Memorial Bridge”, with signs posted on the bridge.
On January 20th, 2005, Jeanette would have been 91. I had returned home and checked my voice-mail to hear an obviously elderly woman’s message “I read your letter to the editor and I want to help. My name is Jeanette Williams, please call me…” My first thought was “What a sweet old lady to want to help” followed by “Why is that name so familiar?” and then a quick Google search confirmed my next thought.
I returned her call. She couldn’t remember if Tom Rasmussen had been working with her at the time that she had been involved in saving the property as greenbelt, but she had a call into him already. I met with her twice at her home. She provided me with inspiration and direction. She also put me in touch with Jorgen Bader, a former assistant City Attorney, who provided me with some valuable direction. Tom Rasmussen became one of our first City Council supporters.
One of the tough parts of our efforts was that money from the land sale was going to go to some very worthwhile efforts, including the Northwest African American Museum and the Wing Luke Museum. When I told Jeanette of this dilemma, she looked physically ill and said “I knew Wing Luke. He would never have wanted this property sold for something in his name”.