SPOKANE — Former Washington state legislator Lois Stratton wasn’t scared to cross party lines and show off her independent streak if that meant representing her constituents.
Stratton once told The Spokesman-Review, “Legislative Democrats … are starting to get the message. They are not over there (in Olympia) for a popularity contest. They’re over there to represent their districts.”
After years in retirement spent with family and friends, Stratton, 93, died Friday of heart failure.
She was born in 1927 on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Her mother was a member of the Spokane Tribe and her father was white. The couple lived on a small farm in Ford with their 12 children.
“She had her bits of feeling like she didn’t belong anywhere,” said her youngest daughter, Spokane City Councilwoman Karen Stratton.
The family may have been poor, Stratton said, but her mother never felt it because her parents took such good care of their children.
“She had a real compassion for people, and she had a compassion for people making sure that everybody had an equal opportunity or a chance to make it,” Karen Stratton said.
Lois Stratton graduated from high school in 1944 and then attended Kinman Business University in Spokane.
In 1946, she married Allen Stratton. They had five children together.
Stratton later became the first woman of the Spokane Tribe elected to the Legislature.
She and her husband were active with the Democratic Party and in 1965, Allen Stratton was appointed to the Spokane City Council.
While Allen served on city council, Lois worked full time as a secretary at Kaiser Aluminum.
She also served as a Democratic precinct committee member.
In 1979, Lois was appointed to the state House of Representatives to fill a vacancy left when Margaret Hurley was elected to the Senate.
In 1984, Stratton was elected to the state Senate, again filling a vacancy left by Hurley.