I met Jeanne Sather in 2002 in her adult extension course in non-fiction writing at the University of Washington. She died of metastatic breast cancer last month. Over the years, she was both a teacher and a friend. She hated a lot of the euphemisms often used to describe people’s cancer – so I’ll try to avoid them here. However, she lived with breast cancer and its effects for more than 15 years. She faced everything from the spread of her cancer to bone and brain to America’s own unique health-related bankruptcy. I admire her and have great empathy for how she managed these difficult years.
I want to highlight my experience with Jeanne as a teacher, because she had a huge impact on me and my professional path. She encouraged her class to always seek to write for publication and to get paid for doing so. Despite having no professional experience as a journalist, within two years of her class, I wrote my first cover story for Seattle Weekly of Microsoft … and two more covers within the next year. This exceeded my wildest aspirations as a writer – and none of it would have happened without Jeanne’s class. She was an outstanding educator.
The foundation Jeanne helped me establish as a writer led me to go on a seven year effort of investigative blogging on Microsoft’s billion dollar Nevada tax dodge operation, which led to international coverage of the company’s actions.
Jeanne’s support and encouragement meant a lot to me. I admire her strengths. I’ll miss her and I wish her family well.