Elaine Stannard, 1925-2011: ‘A life well and fully lived’

Richard Stannard shares this tribute to his late wife Elaine, who was a trailblazer in so many ways:

Elaine Viola Stannard, who died Sept. 16, 2011, was a graduate of the University of Chicago and the University of Washington, where she got her teaching degree.

She was a Quaker peace worker and civil rights worker in the mid-1940s in the Chicago area, when no one ever heard of such a thing. She was an activist member of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and knew many of the people who rose to prominence in the movement in the Sixties. At that time, she was married to a fellow graduate of the University of Chicago, the late Robert Davenport, the father of her daughters. They moved to the Seattle area in 1956.

She is survived by five daughters: Carolyn Benjamin, Elizabeth (Sherry) Davenport-Sanchez; Virginia (Ginger) Van Boven (husband Alan); Susan Moore and Roberta (Birdie) Davenport (husband Steve). Her grandchildren are Eric Benjamin, Thalia Ryer, Leslie Benjamin; Paula Wilson, Amber Kent; Leaf Van Boven, Lana Van Boven Hughes; Drew Moore, Brinn Moore and Rita Moore. Great-grandchildren: Phoenix and Griffin; Elena; Caleb and Anna, Elliot.

For seven years, she taught elementary school in Renton, a job that was plainly her first love. At that time, she was a resident of the pioneering housing cooperative, May Valley Co-op Community, and owned property there for many years after she moved away. She was one of the founding members of a food cooperative there which became Puget Consumers Cooperative (PCC), one of the leading retail food co-ops in the nation.

After leaving teaching, she founded and served as the first director of the Radio Talking Book for the Blind in Seattle from 1973-76. This program was one of the first in the U.S. and served as the prototype for many other stations around the country. During this period, she worked as a consultant helping to establish other radio programs for the blind. She gained a national reputation in this field.

Also in the mid-seventies, she was a staff advocate for Troubleshooters, a statewide advocacy group for the handicapped, and was a founding member of the Seattle Tilth Association, a pioneering urban gardening and composting organization.

In 1979, she became the founding director of the Well Mind Clinic under the sponsorship of the Well Mind Association, an education and advocacy group started in Seattle in 1970 to promote nutritional and other alternative healing techniques for the mentally ill. She was president of WMA for a number of years.

In 1982, she married Richard M. Stannard and became stepmother to four more adult children: Michael, Meredith, Jessica and Katherine Stannard. Grandchildren: Patrick and Victor Dirks, Drew Zandonella-Stannard and Reed Stannard. From then on, family was more and more the focus of her life, but she never lost her interest and concern for the welfare of her fellow men and women.

She and her husband moved to a home above Alki Beach which required 54 stairs to the front door, a fortuitous circumstance which kept her in good health for many years. More recently, she suffered from a weakened heart and then was disabled by the stroke which led to her death on Sept. 16, 2011, in the Park West Nursing Center in West Seattle.

Elaine was 86 when she died, the proud possessor of a life well and fully lived. We will miss her.

Ms. Stannard’s memorial service was on September 18th; inurnment was to follow at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent.

(WSB publishes obituaries at no charge; send text and photos to editor@westseattleblog.com)

7 Replies to "Elaine Stannard, 1925-2011: 'A life well and fully lived'"

  • ben September 29, 2011 (8:47 am)

    thank you for sharing this beautiful and touching tribute.

  • jc September 29, 2011 (9:30 am)

    I agree, another thank you. I think I need to print this and tape it to the fridge.

  • Mary Ellen September 29, 2011 (10:39 am)

    What a neat lady. Wish I had known her.

  • Katie September 29, 2011 (10:53 am)

    What a truly inspiring woman.

  • Spana September 30, 2011 (3:14 pm)

    Elaine was an amazing woman and will be greatly missed.

  • Justine October 4, 2011 (11:32 am)

    I heard Elaine speak at Seattle Tilth’s 30th Anniversary Reunion and Annual Meeting. What an inspirational woman, it sounds like she lived a wonderful live. My sincere condolences to her family.

  • Sarajoy Van Boven October 4, 2011 (11:49 am)

    I feel lucky to have known her. She started us on gardening, edible flowers, health food, etc. We spent Sept 11, 2001 with you guys, watching your tv. She cheered on our daughter’s birth. She was such an inspiration to Huck and I and a lasting influence on us. Thanks for posting this, Richard. You are in our thoughts.

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