Paula Tennant
Paula Adams Tennant Passed away on the first of July 2010 at the age of 97, after being in poor health for many years. She leaves behind a lifetime filled with cherished friends and "family" and numerous notable achievements in the fields of law, science and the arts. Graduating from high school during the Depression, she could not afford college. She served in the navy during the war and was the first woman to achieve Senior Air Traffic Controller stature, afterward she went to law school on the GI Bill. She served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Territory of Alaska in Fairbanks, as an assistant district attorney in San Mateo County and as District Attorney in Lassen County, California, and was twice appointed by Gov. Ronald Reagan to the California Youth Authority Board, the state's parole body for juveniles. In 1970, President Richard M. Nixon appointed her to the U.S. Board of Parole, where she played a significant role over a number of years in reforming the federal parole process. In 1983, at the age of 70, President Reagan appointed her to the U.S. Parole Commission. She traced her remarkable career in the law and criminal justice systems, where she regularly pioneered in positions that had been almost uniformly male before her. She was active in the founding of Executive Women in Government (EWG) as a counterpart to the federal undersecretaries' organization, which was exclusively male. She credited much of her success to being in the right place at the right time, but also acknowledges she was outspoken and refused to acknowledge or be hindered by discrimination. She believed the women who founded EWG were similar. They were not hampered by feelings of inferiority or jealousy and prospered through the networking the organization offered. She was proud of her part in instituting reforms in the parole process. In the mid 1950's when she served as district attorney in Lassen County (Susanville), a friend commented, "Compared to the state and federal government jobs, this may seem insignificant, but for a town like Susanville it was an amazing feat. I recall that even the judges (male) allowed the other attorneys to treat her with considerable disrespect to a degree that would now be a huge federal lawsuit. She ignored them, did her homework and clobbered them in court most of the time." After her retirement from public service, Paula devoted much of her time to the study of Native American culture and was also an avid and tireless volunteer for the SETI Institute. Later, between 1991 and 2002, wrote and published five volumes of poetry (under the name, ADAMS), each one receiving wide critical acclaim. Renowned poet, Francisco Alarcon said of her writing: "These poems are true gems that reflect the light of the stars and of the inner soul". Margaret Speaker Yuan writes: "Rarely has this reviewer read poetry that speaks so clearly the language of the Universe, the language of light and space". Paula was preceded in death by her husband, Paul. She will be sorely missed but lovingly remembered by all who knew her. Including: her great friend Keith Sorenson, Tom and Rene Sorenson, Ann and Dan Chun, Connie Cameron, Dan and Stephanie Capadanno, Walter McCullough, Mel Kerwin, her god-children: Daniel, Joseph and Amanda Sorenson and Eric Chun, and her very dear friends Kay Dieter, Ruby Eatherton, Sylvia McCallum, to whom Paula was a loyal, tender and caring friend, enthusiastic and fun-loving companion. A Friend a friend lingers in our life long after that instant shock of death grief fades to memories which defined that life, treasures, remembered, lessen the empty space ADAMS (Sheaves of Silence) www.rollerhapgoodtinney.com
Published by San Francisco Chronicle on Aug. 8, 2010.
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