Rsepectfully ,Rich Shull
Seattle Times Obituary
Katie Dolan, an activist who stood up for rights of disabled, dies at age 82
By Mike Lindblom
Seattle Times staff reporter
Katie Dolan of Seattle, a pioneering activist for the rights of disabled people in Washington state, died Saturday morning at the age of 82 from complications following a heart attack.
In her last few months, Mrs. Dolan worked to fulfill her longtime vision of a MediCard containing bar-coded health information, so people would not have to fill out a battery of difficult forms in a medical office, said Parul Houlahan, a family friend. A prototype card, issued by Northwest Center, is expected to go into use next year, Houlahan said.
Mrs. Dolans son, Patrick, was born with autism in 1950. Mrs. Dolan rebelled at the notion that developmentally disabled children should be institutionalized. She car pooled with other families to use the available treatment at Western State Psychiatric Hospital in Pierce County.
At the time, autism was blamed on an uncaring or unfeeling mother. But even as she underwent psychological questioning, in her heart Mrs. Dolan never accepted that theory, said her sister, Pat Borgstrom of Shoreline. Her family was among the first to participate in Northwest Center, which provided developmentally disabled students with teaching and jobs.
In 1971, under what he once called a tidal wave of pressure from Mrs. Dolan and others, then-Gov. Dan Evans requested the Education for All Act, to make clear that Washington state children have a constitutional right to education in the public schools, regardless of disability.
In fact, Evans is related to one of the crusading parents and he recognized the value early on, said Janet Taggart, one of the activists.
It was the first such law in the nation. When the Legislature was in session, Mrs. Dolan would be left with the most difficult people to lobby, one of them a conservative lawmaker who displayed a Bible on his desk. She said to him, House Bill 90 is Gods Bill! Taggart said. She talked to him in his language.
Mrs. Dolan relished her reputation as an occasional irritant. One social-services employee hung one of Mrs. Dolans letters to the wall by sticking a knife into it, Taggart recalled.
Her tenacity showed early. As a Franklin High School student in 1943, she persuaded her father to drive her to Camp Harmony in Puyallup, where persons of Japanese descent were interned.
There, she delivered graduation diplomas to her friends Jane and Beth Sugura, according to the late Seattle Times columnist Emmett Watson 50 years later.
She went on to earn a degree in drama from the University of Washington, was a stage actress and fashion model, then became host of two shows on KIRO-TV; Womens World and Eye on Seattle; before working full time on behalf of disabled persons.
In a 2004 Times interview, Mrs. Dolan called her work the ultimate civil-rights cause, because the basic instinct is genocide.
She added, Our heroes are our sons and daughters, who taught us what it really means to be human and to care for each other.
She is also survived by her husband of 60 years, Duane Dolan, and their son. A celebration of her life will be announced later.
Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or mlindblom@.... Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company