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Five Northwest Women Who Inspire Us

Their bold examples show the expansive Northwest spirit.

There’s something about the Pacific Northwest that fosters toughness and resilience. Here are five Seattle NorthCountry women, past and present, whose bold examples continue to inspire us.


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Carol Kaye broke down music barriers, coined the term "Electric Bass" and has had over 10,000 recording sessions. Image provided by Louder

1. Carol Kaye

Bassist and guitarist Carol Kaye is today recognized as being one of the most important, if overlooked, figures in Twentieth-Century popular American music. As a main rhythm component in the “Wrecking Crew”— a notorious group of studio musicians who recorded around L.A. with the likes of the Beach Boys, Sam Cooke, Richie Valens, and others. Kaye, born in Everett, went on to develop her own guitar curriculum. You can catch her on pop radio and vinyl; she crops up in too many classic oldies to list here.


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Perhaps now I will drown. It would be nice to die / Sinking lazily deeper down / Into this dreamy sea / Of golden wine. Image provided by Live in Everett

2. Margaret Rucker

Daughter of prominent founding Everett family. Poet and tragic figure. Her family’s name is still all over the city: Rucker Hill, Rucker Mansion, Rucker Street, and Rucker Tomb.

Margaret Rucker’s poetry went unremembered for years until, improbably, a scrapbook of her photos and published poetry clippings was fished out of a dumpster in San Fransisco by a crust punk named “Chicken John.”

Since the discovery of her dumpster manuscripts, Margaret has received great attention and praise among Seattle NorthCountry literary types and musicians for her haunting verse. Her tragic life, marked by several suicides, including her own, adds an eerie element to her works.

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Nancy Coleman believed hard work triumphed over fate. "You just have to be ready when a chance comes, and all the luck in the world won't do you any good." Image provided by Life Magazine.

3. Marjorie Duryee & Nancy Coleman

Duryee and Coleman were artists, friends, and Everett High school graduates. Duryee was a nationally-recognized photographer, international newspaper correspondent, and painter.

Coleman was an actress on radio, Broadway, and also appeared in Hollywood movies. Coleman starred in nine major motion pictures for Warner Brothers, appearing on the silver screen opposite box office draws like Kirk Douglas, Olivia de Havilland, and Errol Flynn.

Throughout their respective careers, Duryee and Coleman remained lifelong friends. They exemplify how women artists of Seattle NorthCountry support each other to become the best versions of themselves.

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Pilchuck Julia has been mislabeled as "princess" or "queen" of the Coast Salish Tribes over the years by many writers. Image provided by Snohomish Women's Legacy

4. Pilchuck Julia

A famous member of the Coast Salish Tribes. Pilchuck Julia was noteworthy for her photographic portrait, which adorned a widely-distributed postcard in the early 1900s. Arguably, she became the face of the Coast Salish Tribes for people outside our region.

Pilchuck Julia was present for the signing of the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855, which established the Tulalip Tribal Reservation. The most wide-spread myth about her is that she had powers of strong precognition and intuition, accurately predicting major weather events before they happened. She was buried in Snohomish, Washington.

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Mayor Franklin's platform is built on"working to improve the quality of life for the people of Everett, with a focus on public safety, economic development, and civic engagement." Image provided by The City of Everett

5. Mayor Cassie Franklin

The first popularly-elected women mayor of Everett, Mayor Franklin has a background in managing a nonprofit dedicated to helping homeless teens. Franklin gained popular support among her constituents by supporting new low-income housing and by making civic social services available to people who needed them. Mayor Franklin is also a bicycle advocate and a supporter of the public library.

These are only a handful of the women who make Seattle NorthCountry great. Visit our region for progressive thought and equality.

Richard Porter