Pat Jollota is Clark County’s First Citizen of 2012

Accomplished historian of the community has given her energy to shape the future

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

Published:

 
photo Pat Jollota is the 2012 Clark County First Citizen.

(/The Columbian)

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If you go

• What: 2012 First Citizen award ceremony.

• When: 4 p.m. reception, 5 p.m. program; Thursday, Oct. 11.

• Where: Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth St.

• Cost: $35.

• Information: 360-694-2588 or http://vancouverusa.com.

Her name is on several books about local history, but Pat Jollota doesn’t just focus on the past.

Jollota’s 20-year role as a city councilor helped shape the Vancouver we see today. And her work on behalf of abused children will influence the community’s future.

They’re all factors in Jollota’s selection as Clark County’s First Citizen for 2012.

The Community Foundation for Southwest Washington announced the award, given annually to a Clark County resident who has modeled exemplary citizenship through actions and service to the community.

When Jollota had a chance to talk about the award, she picked a location that means a lot to her — and it wasn’t a municipal product of her city council tenure or a historical landmark. It was the Arthur D. Curtis Children’s Justice Center in downtown Vancouver.

“We respond to felony-level child abuse,” said Mary Blanchette, executive director of the Children’s Justice Center. “We try to prevent further trauma to a child” during the medical exam, police investigation and trial phases of the case.

“Pat was there at the beginning as a founder, and was a board member for 20 years,” Blanchette said.

Jollota, 75, still works with the Children’s Justice Center, and supports its abuse prevention and response activities as founder and president of the nonprofit foundation Justice for Children.

During a walk through the center, Jollota stopped to explain a piece of hallway artwork. An image of a tree was covered with lots of little animal cutouts. Each squirrel or bird or bug had been placed there by a child who’d been abused.

“It shows them that they are not alone,” Jollota said. “The terrible thing is that there are so many of them.”

In her letter supporting the First Citizen nomination, Blanchette said that Jollota’s participation in the center “has increased safety for all children in this community.”

Jollota’s contributions to the community didn’t even start until she and her late husband retired. Jake was a police sergeant in Los Angeles, and Pat was a police department employee.

“I loved that job for 20 years,” she said. “Unfortunately, I did it for 22 years.”

The Southern California environment also wore her down, she said.

“I watched as we tore our history down,” she said.

Pat and Jake looked around for a community that honored its history and moved here in 1982.

She was hired as curator for the Clark County Historical Museum. She went on to write five books about local history, and she’s working on her sixth.

Jollota joined Vancouver’s city council in 1990, two years before her husband died in 1992.

She retired from the city council in 2010.

“Ms. Jollota is an unsurpassed historian of our area, possessing exceptional knowledge and the ability to share that knowledge with others through humor and a uniquely personal touch,” Jack Burkman, who was elected to fill Jollota’s spot on the city council, wrote. “… Her continual writing of local history books captures stories that are rapidly disappearing as our elders pass on.”

The announcement from the Community Foundation noted the range of Jollota’s community involvement: “She is a member of 10 civic organizations and has served on more than 15 boards and commissions.”