90th birthday party for West Seattle activist Vivian McLean

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

“Hard to believe it’s really me, whose name will be on high … to challenge those walking by …”

That line is from a poem by Pigeon Point-residing community activist Vivian McLean (above). It refers to the Delridge building carrying her name, Vivian McLean Place, home to the Delridge Library as well as apartments, and adjacent to offices. One of those offices belongs to the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association, whose former executive director Paul Fischburg read the poem aloud last night at a party to celebrate Vivian’s 90th birthday:

Vivian is a founderof DNDA. Her birthday party filled the Highland Park Improvement Club with laughter and love, as well as for respect for Vivian’s many accomplishments, which themselves filled a scrapbook placed on a table for all to view:

The scrapbook went back decades; its first page told of an honor she had won in Michigan in 1940, years before moving here in 1948.

Even if you weren’t familiar with the impact she has had, you would have realized it with a look around the room last night. City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen stopped by. Community activists and organization leaders from around West Seattle abounded. Among them, her fellow Pigeon Point’er Pete Spalding, who wore this tribute in lights:

Pete has been involved with much of what Vivian’s work has turned from dream to reality. She lobbied the city to create the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council (which he has chaired), and organized community councils to comprise its membership (including the Pigeon Point Neighborhood Council, which he also has chaired). And as a co-founder of DNDA, not only was she involved with its work to build the aforementioned building bearing her name – the library was a longtime dream – but also with three major projects that were part of a subsequent capital campaign. They include the West Seattle Community Resource Center that is home to the West Seattle Food Bank (whose board Pete has led), as well as Youngstown Cultural Arts Center at the original Cooper School.

Last night, though, his main role was that of making sure Vivian was in attendance. And, of course, to help celebrate. “She likes to be with people,” her son Bruce had explained in his remarks; and last night, she certainly was.

8 Replies to "90th birthday party for West Seattle activist Vivian McLean"

  • Pete November 14, 2010 (10:58 am)

    Vivian is tryly an inspiring neighbor leader who has led the eay for many years. Thanks to Vivian we all have a much better Delridge community to live in today.

  • miws November 14, 2010 (11:01 am)

    Happy Birthday, Vivian!



  • I. Ponder November 14, 2010 (11:28 am)

    So beautiful and strong! Wow!

  • Melinda November 14, 2010 (3:04 pm)

    Birthday greetings from Melinda & John. I refer to you as the political mother of Delridge. Many thanks!

  • Judy Pickens November 15, 2010 (7:47 am)

    Sorry I did not know about Vivian’s milestone achievement. Yet another one! My best wishes for many happy days reflecting on the many stones you moved up the hill!

  • Joan Bateman November 15, 2010 (9:31 pm)

    Happy Birthday Vivian.

    You fill our hearts with happiness and joy.

    Continue your good works!


    Joan Bateman

  • celia barry November 26, 2010 (7:14 pm)

    I am privileged to say that Vivian was a key mentor in my life. I will be sending her a print of this tribute since I don’t believe she has Internet, but maybe that’s changed. We haven’t been in touch for over a year.

    Happy Birthday to one of the true heroes of our society, who always remained true to her values, helped me and others to learn about community building, and showed me that honey works better than vinegar.

  • Stephen Lundgren December 3, 2010 (4:35 pm)

    Vivian has been a mentor, supporter, co-conspirator, and excellent community advocate not only for PP and also citywide. Truly an inspiration and we hope she lives long and, well you don’t exactly prosper as a civic advocate, but you can sure feel accomplished!

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