On April 16, 1999, Governor Gary Locke signed into law SB 5734, which set
April 16 as Mother Joseph Day and September 4 as Marcus Whitman Day. These
non-legal holidays honor two of Washington state’s most historically notable
individuals. Each distinguished citizen is represented in Statuary Hall, The
Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.
Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart came from humble beginnings in Canada.
She was born Esther Pariseau on April 16, 1823, in Saint Elzear, Quebec. She set
out from Montreal in 1858 to begin her work in the distant outpost of Fort
What you may not know is that the EXCEL sixth-grade class from Evergreen
School District in Vancouver was a small, but determined force behind the
creation of SB 5734.
Even before that, in the late 1988s, a third-grade class, also from Evergreen
School District, wrote letters of protest denouncing the move to give St.
.Joseph Community Hospital a new name: Southwest Washington Medical Center. The
third-graders weren't successful in stopping the name change, but they accepted
a compromise offer from hospital officials, with the assistance of the
City of Vancouver, to rename the street entering the campus Mother Joseph
Place. They even helped hang the sign in place.
With the help of Senator Al Bauer, the sixth-graders set out to make their
mark in Olympia. On March 1, 1999, four students from the class made a
15-minute presentation before the Senate State and Local Government Committee,
complete with handouts and a Power Point slideshow, requesting support for the
bill, which was being sponsored by Senator Bauer. Following the presentation,
the Senators unanimously voted the bill out of committee. Committee Chair,
Senator Julia Patterson, said: "That was the greatest public testimony I have
heard, in six years in the Legislature. There are people being paid lots of
money for this, and you’ve got them beat" (Columbian, March 2, 1999).
[HistoryLink.org Essay 5472]
Source: Borrowed liberally and with gratitude from HistoryLink.org
Essay 5472. Read the full story.