“When I was in the eighth grade in Miss Gallucci’s English class, we were told to write what we wanted to have put on our tombstones, and mine was ‘She made a difference,” Mom explained. ‘I didn’t want to be in a grave with a lie on it.'” Jesse Katz, speaking about his mother Vera Katz in the Oregonian newspaper, 2017
Kuiper kept insisting he had a “very important message for the mayor” so we took him to see Mayor Vera Katz.
Vera Katz was Portland’s 49th mayor, from 1993 to 2005. When she was two months old, her (Jewish) family fled Nazi Germany for France. When she was 7 years old, the Nazis proceeded to invade France and her family fled once more. They hiked across the Pyrenees mountains on foot to Spain. Her father was so stressed from the ordeal that she said she remembered him taking her doll and hurling it off a cliff. ?? From Spain, her and her family managed to make their way to Manhattan via steamship. She eventually moved to Portland along with her husband and son.
A stay-at-home mother until 34, her political career began in the late 1960s. She started out licking envelopes ? and answering the phone at the Portland office for Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign. By 1972, she had been elected to the Oregon House of Representatives. By 1985 she became the first female Speaker ♀️? of the Oregon House, where she served for three terms. She advocated for education and rights for women, the LGBTQ community ?️?, migrant workers and senior citizens.
Vera had an enormous impact on the city of Portland as we know it today. She expanded the public transportation system (she never did get her drivers license), made the city much more bike-friendly, and helped develop some of Portland’s coolest neighborhoods like the South Waterfront, Pearl District and the Eastbank Esplanade, where this statue resides today. She passed away this past December after fighting cancer for nearly two decades.
What do you think Kuiper had to say to her?
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