Remembering West Seattle civic activist Margaret Ceis, 1925-2012

(Photo courtesy ArtsWest, whose Kongsgaard-Alhadeff Award honored Ms. Ceis in 2005)
Friends, family, and political/civic leaders around the area are remembering longtime West Seattle activist Margaret Ceis today. She passed away yesterday at the age of 86. Her community service included being a founding member of the ArtsWest board, serving on the Seattle Board of Park Commissioners – for which she was honored in this 1996 City Council resolution – the Alki Community Council, the Harborview Medical Center Board of Trustees, and more.

Her leadership skills and perseverance were legend; when former mayor and current Secretary of State candidate Greg Nickels spoke at the memorial last year for another longtime community activist, Vivian McLean (WSB coverage here), he mentioned Ms. Ceis as, along with Ms. McLean, one of the local activists “you never say ‘no’ to.” Ms. Ceis was the mother of former deputy mayor Tim Ceis. We asked King County Executive Dow Constantine, one of many local leaders that she inspired, for his thoughts:

Our community lost a genuine champion with the passing of Margaret Ceis.

A lifelong community organizer and political activist, Margaret led the 34th District Democrats, the Alki Community Council and the League of Women Voters, among many other groups. She helped to create and promote the landmark 1989 King County Open Space bond issue, chaired the Seattle Parks Board, co-founded ArtsWest, and co-chaired the Three Projects/One Community campaign in Delridge.

It was Margaret who introduced me to grassroots Democratic politics. Her endorsement was without question the most coveted in West Seattle. In 1996 she was the co-chair of my successful campaign for the State House of Representatives. Without the coaxing and mentorship of Margaret Ceis I might never have sought or been elected to public office, and I will be forever grateful to her.

My condolences to Margaret’s family and friends, and to the entire West Seattle community, which she changed time and again for the better.

No word of memorial arrangements for Ms. Ceis yet, but they are expected to be made through Howden-Kennedy. We expect to add more to this story as the day goes on.

ADDED 11:38 PM: The Seattle Times (WSB partner) has published a story tonight about Ms. Ceis, for whom a memorial is planned at 2 pm June 2nd at The Hall at Fauntleroy.

8 Replies to "Remembering West Seattle civic activist Margaret Ceis, 1925-2012 "

  • Deb Hobson May 24, 2012 (11:55 am)

    My condolences to Tim, Jerry and other family members. Margaret was one of the finest people I’ve ever known – always working hard to make our community and peoples’ lives better. She was a true civic leader and our world is better because of her.
    Deb Hobson

  • Shannon Flora May 24, 2012 (1:39 pm)

    Condolences to Margaret’s family. If you look up the word “community’ in the dictionary, Margaret’s picture should be there. She will be dearly missed by so many – her influence, support and mentoring touched so many individuals and organizations in the community.

  • Jackie Ramels May 24, 2012 (2:26 pm)

    Margaret was one of the first people I met when I moved to West Seattle 20+ years ago. She changed my life by showing me that one person CAN make a difference, and she DID, in so many ways. She was a savvy, class act, an inspiration always. It’s hard to think of Seattle, West Seattle, and Alki, without Margaret in it. Condolences to her family.

  • Ann May 24, 2012 (3:37 pm)

    I would like to add my condolences to those offered by others for Margaret’s family and friends. Her contributions were immeasurable as I am sure it will be impossible for all she touched to adequately convey her contributions to them or to the organizations she supported and/or led. She will be missed beyond measure! Good bye and good night, Margaret!

  • Lynne Ingalls, Vice Chair of the West Seattle Democratic Women May 24, 2012 (4:24 pm)

    On behalf of the membership of the WSDW I wish to express our deep condolences to the Ceis family. All of us are stunned at the loss of this invaluable member of both our group and of our community as a whole. WSDW had honored Margaret at our meeting which celebrated 100 years of women’s right to vote in Washington State; she was certainly at the forefront of women’s advocacy. She will be greatly missed and will continue to be an inspiration for us.

  • will o wisp May 24, 2012 (10:18 pm)

    Great Lady!

    It was a pleasure to know her. We worked on a few things together and you always knew where she stood. Luckily, I usually agreed with her.

  • Aman May 24, 2012 (10:26 pm)

    R.I.P. Thanks for everything. Margaret made a difference and as a result our community a better place.

  • Fred Stern May 25, 2012 (5:10 pm)

    Jerry and Tim,
    My deepest heartfelt condolences, she was my second mom as much time as I spent at your place with Fred. She’s now with Phil and Fred keeping us on the left fork in the road as we encounter them. She helped make me the rabid democrat I am.
    Fred Stern

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