Julie McDonald Commentary: A State Basketball Tournament and the Death of a Democratic Icon


Like hundreds of parents and grandparents during the past two weeks of March Madness, my husband and I drove across Snoqualmie Pass to Spokane to attend the ninth annual Washington State Championship Basketball Tournament — for kids in fourth through eighth grades.

Until granddaughter Brooke from Woodland played in it, I’d never heard of state tournaments for young basketball players — many of whom are taller than me. During the girls’ competition March 11 through March 13, which drew 250 teams from across the state, Woodland played Morton-White Pass fourth-graders, and I saw sixth-grade Onalaska Logger girls and a Toutle Lake team in the tournament too. Players from 250 or so boys’ teams played last weekend.

We topped off our tank at Centralia’s Safeway, paying $4.43 per gallon, but when we stopped in Moses Lake to fill it again, the cost at the Conoco station was $4.59 a gallon. Ouch.

Another Conoco station near our Airbnb in Spokane showed a price of $4.19 one morning when we left for the game but $4.39 when we returned. During a quick trip across the state line to see Lake Coeur d’Alene, I noticed a $3.99 per gallon price.

When we left Sunday morning, I spotted a station with a $4.19 per gallon price and filled up. Who would have ever thought I’d be happy to find a station charging $4.19 a gallon? When I stopped in Toledo the next day, I put in only a bit of gas because the price was $4.79 a gallon.

C’est la vie. At least we’re not in Ukraine dodging missiles and bombs or burying loved ones because of Russian aggression. It is amazing, though, to see the variation in prices, even within a block or two. The other day, when Centralia’s Safeway charged $4.43 a gallon, the price was $4.59 at Chevron across the street and $4.69 at the Mobil station a block away.

As we drove to one of the venues for a game, we passed the Glover Mansion, which reminded me of my favorite pioneer — Matilda Jackson. Why? Because the “Father of Spokane,” James Glover, was her nephew as well as her first husband’s. When Matilda Glover was about 10, her eldest brother, Phillip, married the older sister of Nicholas Koontz. Sixteen years later, she and Nicholas married and, in 1847, crossed the Oregon Trail. Unfortunately, Nicholas drowned in the Snake River in early September, but Matilda and her boys continued on to Oregon City, where the following spring, in 1848, she married John R. Jackson and moved with him to his homestead on what is now Jackson Prairie in Lewis County.

In 1849, Philip and Sarah Glover crossed the trail with their family, including their 11-year-old son, James Nettle Glover, and settled near what today is the Oregon capital of Salem. When James was older, in 1872, he stood near Spokane Falls and envisioned a great city. He had $6,000, which he spent to buy 160 acres on the Spokane River’s south bank. He built a house, a mill, and a bank, and sold property to others who would help build the city of Spokane. In 1888, James and Susan Glover hired architect Kirtland Cutter to design a 12,000-square-foot English Tudor with eight bedrooms and five bathrooms on the city’s South Hill. After he lost the home and more than $1.5 million in the 1893 economic panic, he moved to a smaller house in Spokane, where he died in 1921, two decades after his Aunt Matilda. The home later served as a Unitarian church.


RIP Robert Schaefer

“A giant has gone to be with the Lord.”

Washington Lt. Gov. Denny Heck spoke those words Saturday to start his eulogy of an icon in the Democrat Party, a man who left his mark on Clark County and Southwest Washington.

If you’ve ever crossed the Columbia River on Interstate 205, you can thank state Rep. Robert McMaster Schaefer, an attorney who in 1965 became the second-youngest man elected Speaker of the House and laid the groundwork for construction of the bridge.

If you’ve ever visited Washington State University’s Vancouver branch, you can thank Schaefer who along with state Sen. Al Bauer and Reps. Joe Tanner and Joe King (all Clark County Democrats) worked hard to see the branch campus built at Salmon Creek.

And if you’ve ever spent time at Battle Ground State Park or stopped at a business in Cascade Park east of downtown Vancouver, you can thank Schaefer, who played a huge role in their development.

When we moved from Colorado to Vancouver in 1974, my dad found a nursing job at St. Joseph’s Hospital, now known as PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. At that time, the hospital sat at the edge of town, with primarily farmland and only the old Evergreen Airfield to the east. When Vancouver Mall opened in August 1977, I wondered why they built it way out in the middle of nowhere.

Fast forward decades, and we benefit from what visionaries like Schaefer saw as potential for growth as they shaped the county across the Columbia River from Portland. He was dubbed one of the most influential people in Clark County during the 1980s and both he and his wife, Sally, were honored as First Citizen of Clark County (Sally in 1984 and Bob in 2013). I was honored to meet Bob and Sally in the twilight of their lives when I helped them put together their book, “Footprints of Our Lives,” which was published last year.

People packed the Church of the Good Shepherd on Ellsworth Road in Vancouver Saturday to honor Schaefer.

“All roads led to Bob’s law office,” said Heck, a five-term state representative, 10th District congressman, and friend of Schaefer’s for 50 years. “It was an office with an incredibly intimidating environment, leather chairs, big desks, law books on the shelves … We’d hang on his every word… But how were we met? For every single one of us, with kindness and patience, encouragement, and often yes, support, but always a point of wisdom.”

Democrats who sought elected office often consulted with Schaefer, a man Heck described as “at the apex of a pyramid of elected officials and key decision makers.” He said dozens of people “trace their political lineage either directly or indirectly to Bob, myself included.”

Schaefer cherished his faith in God and Sally, his wife of 68 years, as well as his children and his grandchildren, Heck said.

“Bob was a giant who is now with the Lord, and we are all the better for his life.”


Julie McDonald, a personal historian from Toledo, may be reached at memoirs@chaptersoflife.com.