Memories of a governor, from an ‘adopted’ daughter

Note from Steven Gardner: I was working the day we found out Booth Gardner had died. Later that day Annette Griffus, one of our sports reporters, told me about how he had treated her family. I asked her to write something for our blog. I think you’ll be glad she agreed.

Annette Griffus writes:

I knew Booth Gardner wasn’t doing well physically in his battle with Parkinson’s disease the last year or so, but when the word came that the former Democratic senator and governor died March 16 in Tacoma, it saddened me nonetheless.

I knew Booth when I was a teenager growing up in Spokane.

My mom was the administrative assistant to the secretary of the Labor Council with the AFL-CIO in Spokane.

When Pierce County Executive and former state Sen. Gardner was gearing up for his first campaign run for the governorship, he met my mother and the two formed a sister-brother type friendship.

I have two distinct memories of Booth.

The first was, I believe, when he was in Spokane after his election in 1985. I was 14 years old and Mm and I went to the Ridpath Hotel to see him.

While waiting, a woman kept talking to us and telling us how she knew the governor.

Mom and I didn’t say anything.

When Booth came out to the assembled crowd, we waited until he saw us.

He greeted us joyfully, giving me a hug, and with his arm around my shoulder turned to the same woman and said, “Have you met my daughter?”

Needless to say she was dumbfounded.

That was how Booth introduced me, as well as my sister.

We were his adopted “kids.”

The other clear memory I have is during a family vacation to Olympia. We had friends who lived in Tumwater and one day mom, my sister and I went to the capitol building to see Booth.

We didn’t have an appointment and when his secretaries (He had four!) asked Mom who she was, she said to tell him his sister was here.

Booth came out of the office and greeted us all with a big smile and hugs all around. He led us back into his office and we talked. I’m not sure what it was, but it was thrilling for a 15-16 year old to have the governor of the state treat us like family.

That was the day that he took the three of us on a tour of the capitol building, introducing my sister and I as his daughters and mom as his sister It sounds weird, I know, but it was really sweet.

He also made my sister and I honorary Washington State Legislative pages that day. I still have my page badge.

I also remember before we said “Goodbye” in his office, he told me that I couldn’t date unless I got his permission.

I never did.

Even though Booth and I would almost certainly disagree on politics now, the memories I have of him had little to do with politics and everything to do with a nice man who treated my family with respect.

I’ll always be grateful for that.

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