Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

March 20, 1998

THREE NORTHWEST LABOR STALWARTS, who spent their lives working to improve the lot of working people, died in recent weeks. Longshoreman Jesse Stranahan and former State Senator Shirley Gold died in Portland; feminist Clara Fraser died in Seattle.

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JESSE KNEELAND STRANAHAN died on March 4 at the age of 79 at his southeast Portland home, following a debilitating illness resulting from heart attacks last summer.

He was born in Roslyn, Wash., Feb. 3, 1919, grew up in Portland, and graduated from Jefferson High School.

While attending a summer labor school at a college in Mena, Ark., he met fellow student Lois Redding of Mena, and they were married on Sept. 13, 1940.

He served in the U.S. Army in Europe in World War II. After the war he resumed his career on the Portland docks as a member of Longshore Supercargoes and Clerks Local 40. He was active in the International Longshore and Warehouse Union throughout his life.

STRANAHAN PLAYED a leading role in founding the Northwest Oregon Labor Retirees Council, AFL-CIO. The council recognized Stranahan's contributions to the labor movement by naming him and his wife to Labor's Hall of Fame last summer. A full account of their work for labor, social justice, political and environmental causes was published in the Northwest Labor Press last Aug. 15.

In a statement issued in announcing his funeral, his family and friends said: "Mr. Stranahan, who had a subtle humor and a love for books and music, was a deeply compassionate man who practiced a lifetime of care, concern and respect for others. His humanist view and approach toward life touched the many people who knew him. He will forever be greatly missed by family and friends."

His funeral was held March 10 at the First United Methodist Church followed by interment at Willamette National Cemetery. Arrangements were handled by the Riverview Abbey Funeral Home.

Survivors include his wife, Lois; a daughter, Judith Stranahan of Edison, N.J.; and a sister, Margaret Stranahan of Portland. Memorials in Jess's name can be sent to the Harry Bridges Institute for Labor Education in High Schools, 461 W. Sixth St., Suite 223, San Pedro, Calif. 90731; or the Kaiser Hospice, 2701 NW Vaughn St., Suite 140, Portland, Ore. 97210.

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SHIRLEY GOLD, a union leader and state legislator, died in Portland of pancreatic cancer on Feb. 27 at the age of 72.

She was born in New York City on Nov. 2, 1925 and graduated from Hunter College there in 1945. She was working for Columbia Broadcasting System as a publicist when she met returning World War II soldier Dave Gold. They married and moved to Portland, his home town, where both became school teachers.

Mrs. Gold was elected president of the Portland Federation of Teachers Local 111, AFL-CIO, in 1965 and held that post until being elected head of the Oregon Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. SHE BEGAN her career as a Democratic state legislator in 1980 when appointed to fill a vacancy in the Oregon House of Representatives from her southeast Portland district. Her colleagues elected her House majority leader for two sessions. She won election to the Oregon Senate in 1988 and remained in the Legislature until 1996 when she ran for the Democratic nomination in the Third Congressional District.

THE NORTHWEST OREGON Labor Retirees Council selected Gold for its Labor Hall of Fame last summer and her accomplishments were chronicled in the July 18 issue of the NW Labor Press.

She is survived by two sons, Andy of Bend and Dan of Portland, and four grandchildren. Her husband Dave died in 1995.

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CLARA FRASER, described by the Associated Press as "a trailblazer social activist who lobbied for the rights of women, minorities, union workers, gays and prisoners," died of emphysema Feb. 24 at her Seattle home. She was only weeks from her 75th birthday and the release of her new book, "Revolution, She Wrote."

In recounting her career, the AP wrote: "In Seattle, Fraser helped found Radical Women, a feminist group, and the Freedom Socialist Party. She also helped write the state's first divorce-reform bill and organized the state’s first abortion-rights rally.

"She campaigned for university-funded child care at the University of Washington and worked to get women into electrical and engineering trades.

"IN 1975, FRASER was fired for speaking out against sex and ideology discrimination at Seattle City Light after leading an 11-day wildcat walkout. She successfully sued, saying she was a victim of sexual and political discrimination, and was rehired seven years later."

Adrienne Weller of Portland, a member of AFSCME Local 328, reported that Fraser was born Clara Dora Goodman on March 23, 1923 in Los Angeles. Her mother was a socialist from Russia who served as a business agent for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Her father was a Latvian immigrant, an anarchist and a staunch member of the Teamsters. After graduation from UCLA, Fraser worked briefly as a screenwriter, then moved to Seattle with her first husband to help build the Socialist Workers Party in the Pacific Northwest.

Fraser is survived by two sons, Marc Krasnowsky, a journalist in Lincoln, Neb., and Jon Fraser, a jazz trumpeter in Boston; a sister, Flory Adler of Seattle; two grandchildren, and other relatives. A public memorial will be held in Seattle at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 22, in the Mt. Baker Community Club.

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HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON caught flak over her comment that Whitewater special persecutor Kenneth Starr's ever-widening investigation of her husband proves that there's a "vast right-wing conspiracy" against President Bill Clinton. Mrs. Clinton's critics in the media and among her Democratic husband's foes demanded she produce proof of her accusations.

Unfortunately, right-wing zealots don't convene in hotel meeting rooms with their presence advertised on lobby bulletin boards listing the daily activities scheduled at the hotel. Just imagine the commotion that'd result from a hotel lobby reader board announcing: "Mezzanine Blue Room, 10 a.m., Get Clinton Committee."

NOR DO RIGHT-WING conspirators, wherever they may congregate, take written minutes of what's said or done at their meetings. Just imagine the public reaction that would follow if someone leaked a copy of the minutes.

Fact is, the radical right conspirators don't need to meet in person to reach a meeting of their minds. They think alike in their disdain, even hatred, for Democratic President Clinton.

If they held face to face meetings, those sessions would be as highly secret as the clandestine sit-downs of the old Mafia bosses.

Mrs. Clinton scored an Olympic "10" with her observation that the frenzied attacks on President Clinton are the products of "malicious and evil-minded" political foes whose zealotry seeks "to undo the results of two elections."

As has been noted in this space before, William Jefferson Clinton's biggest sin was defeating Republican White House incumbent George Bush in 1992. He compounded his sin by defeating Republican senatorial stalwart Robert Dole in 1996.

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