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Of Spokane, Washington, passed away in Spokane on January 18, 2012.
Vickie was born in Oakland, California on March 12, 1962, the daughter of Yoshiko Nabeoka and Gordon Storrs. She was the oldest of three children, and was a protective and loving big sister to her brother Rob and sister Debbie as they were growing up.
Vickie graduated from Bartlett High School in Anchorage, Alaska in 1980, and went on to pursue a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work from Eastern Washington University. She was the first in her family to attend college and inspired her siblings to follow her path. On a visit home from college, Vickie met and fell in love with Richard Countryman. They were married in Anchorage on Sept 21, 1985, and were together until 1994. They remained close friends.
Vickie returned to school and earned her Master's Degree in Social Work from EWU in 1992. She pursued social work as a discipline because she cared deeply about people and wanted to make a difference, and she did in fact make a difference in every position that she held.
Vickie had an extensive professional history in Spokane. She was the Director of Women and Multicultural Services at the YWCA from 1991-1994; the Community Outreach Coordinator for People of Color Against AIDS Network (POCAAN) from 1994-1996; Director of Recruitment and Retention in the NW Region for American Express Financial Advisors from 1994-1999; Director of Equity for Spokane Public Schools from 1999-2007; and an Academic Advisor at The University of Phoenix Eastern Washington Campus from 2010-2012.
Vickie served on numerous advisory committees, local and regional task forces, and community coalitions. She frequently received recognition and honors for her accomplishments, and was a highly respected and sought after trainer and workshop facilitator on issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and multiculturalism, using her unique brand of humor and storytelling to break down barriers and confront difficult and uncomfortable topics like racism, homophobia, oppression, and privilege.
Vickie is most remembered for her smile, her laughter, her enormous heart, her larger than life personality, her generosity and spirit of giving to others, and her passion for helping students succeed. She was a relentless advocate for people of color, underserved students, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, and women. Those who had the privilege of working with Vickie also knew her to be a fierce and tireless warrior when it came to challenging people and organizations in positions of power to "walk their talk", and holding them accountable on the many occasions when they did not.
Vickie is one of a very few people who had the courage to say what needed to be said and to do what needed to be done, even when she frequently had to stand alone in order to do it. It was exhausting, frustrating, lonely, and soul draining work, but Spokane is a better place because of her efforts.
Vickie is survived by her brother Rob Storrs of Seattle, sister Debbie Storrs of Moscow, ex-husband and friend Richard Countryman of Spokane, goddaughter Renika Williams of Atlanta, her two dogs, Sofi and Izzy, whom she cherished, and a community of grateful friends, co-workers, and former students who loved Vickie and were changed for the better by having had her touch our lives.
A celebration of Vickie Countryman's life and work in Spokane will be held on March 12, 2012 (her 50th birthday) at the Community Building, 35 W. Main Street, Spokane, WA from 4-6pm.
Published in Spokesman-Review from Mar. 4 to Mar. 5, 2012