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May 4, 1933 -
Jan Polek, age 78, passed away on the night of January 10, 2012. She died peacefully and comfortably, surrounded by loved ones.
Jan was born in Kansas City, Missouri and obtained her degree from the University of Kansas City (now UMKC), where she met her husband, Fran Polek. They soon moved to Los Angeles, where Jan worked to support her husband while he continued to study. They moved to Spokane in 1966 when her husband accepted a faculty position at Gonzaga University.
Jan was noted for her dedication to the women's movement and was a vital force in the Spokane community that she loved. She worked as the Director of Women and Youth Services at the YWCA, and was the Executive Director of the Spokane Ballet. She retired as the Gender Equity Specialist at the Community Colleges of Spokane. She was President of the District Equity Council, and in 1997 she received the Deccio Memorial Equity Award, given for demonstrated commitment to the principles of equity and respect for others in personal and professional life. She helped create and lectured at the Non-Traditional Settings Program for women. She also lectured at the Displaced Homemakers Program and Project Self-Sufficiency classes. Working with the Spokane Women's Commission, she helped establish a yearly celebration of International Women's Day. In 1995, she attended a special reception at the White House for her work with the Department of Labor's Women's Bureau Celebration Conference.
Jan was one of the founders of Gonzaga's Institute for Action Against Hate. She was twice President of Soroptimist International of Spokane. She served on the ACLU's Advisory Committee. She was Vice President of the Moran Prairie Friends of the Library, and served on many other local service committees. She was an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous for over 45 years, serving as a Delegate for the Washington Area and as a Director on the AAWS Board in New York City. She sponsored numerous women in AA.
She was appointed by the Governor as a Public Member of the Washington State Medical Disciplinary Board, which addresses allegations of medical misconduct. A prolific writer, she wrote a popular monthly column for the Spokesman Review on issues affecting the elderly.
Active in Democratic politics, she was twice a candidate for public office. In 1986, she ran for election to the Washington State House of Representatives, and in 1990 ran for election to the Washington State Senate. Two of the highlights of her political life, she served as a Washington Delegate to the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, and she received a VIP invitation to the 1992 Presidential Inauguration.
Jan lived her life surrounded by love, with dignity and devotion. She will be remembered and missed. She is survived by her daughter Jenny, her son Frank and his wife Beth, her brother Don and sister-in-law Roberta, and her sister Marilyn and brother-in-law Bob.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday the 14th at Center Pointe, from 1-3 p.m. Donations may be made in her name to Myriam's House.
SPOKANE CREMATION & FUNERAL SERVICE, SPOKANE, WA
Published in Spokesman-Review from Jan. 13 to Jan. 14, 2012