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In Memoriam: “They Lived and Laughed and Loved and Left”

March 18, 2021

Over the past year, Meany Center lost several dear, long-time friends. These people led full, rich lives and those of us lucky enough to know them will never forget them. In normal times, we might have gathered for a service, shared memories of their kindness and generosity, swapped stories of things we’d experienced with them and found comfort in the company of others who had known and loved them too.

The pandemic has made such gatherings impossible for now, and so we share our love and appreciation for absent friends as best we can.

Bernita Wilson Jackson

Bernita Jackson — Bea, to her friends (and she had a lot of friends!) — was born in Seattle in 1938. She built a decades-long career, literally working her way up from the mail room to management, and still found time to volunteer for the Seattle Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Hearing, Speech & Deaf Center in Seattle. Bea was something of a trend-setter as well — at a time when dress codes for working women were conservative, she was one of the first to wear a pantsuit. 

Being “one of the first” was true of Bea’s relationship with Meany Center, as well. In 1981, shortly after the UW World Series was founded, her mother Naomi, her siblings George and Gloria and her brother-in-law Don were the first subscribers to the brand-new President’s Piano series. Bea, rebel that she was, eschewed piano but began attending performances of the World Dance Series. Her favorite company was Mark Morris Dance Group. In recent years, she usually attended with her brother George and sister-in-law Claire. She was an enthusiastic supporter of Meany’s K-12 education programs, as well.

Bea was part of the Meany family for over 40 years and we will miss her more than we can say.

Linda Armstrong

Born in Spokane, Linda Armstrong attended the University of Washington where she studied literature and piano. These twin passions informed the rest of her life as a teacher (at Highline Community College), a life-long learner (she received her doctorate in Comparative Literature at the UW), an arts administrator (for Cornish College of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts) and a musician — she was a regular participant in the Icicle Creek summer piano workshops and concerts. She was also a member of the Ladies Musical Club and performed frequently at their concerts.

Linda began subscribing to Meany’s Piano Series in 1994; she joined our Advisory Board in 2013 and served a five-year term before joining the Emeritus Board. In 2018, Linda moved to Southern California to be closer to her children and grandchildren. Linda’s love of life, music, good food and good friends was infectious. She was gracious, kind, and generous and Meany Center will be forever grateful for the part Linda played in making us what we are today.

Margaret Dora Morrison

Born in Seattle in 1923, Margaret Dora Morrison led a full and adventurous life that included a career, a family and extensive travel throughout the world. She was also a Husky through and through: as a student at the University of Washington, she served as President of the Associated Women Students, was a member of Mortar Board and was affiliated with the Alpha Phi Sorority. As an alumna, she belonged to the Women's University Club. She was also a great supporter of Meany Center.

Margaret was one of our few major donors who was not also a patron. She occasionally came to ticketed events at Meany whenever a friend invited her, but her passion for Meany’s mission lay with our youth arts education programs.

Margaret adored children and preferred our free K–12 matinees in the rowdy company of a full house of public-school students to the more constrained atmosphere of an evening performance. She loved how Meany reached thousands of children every year through matinees and in-school artist visits, and when she passed away in April of last year, a new endowment was established in her memory, ensuring that these programs will continue.

Joe Rothberg

Joseph E. Rothberg, Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Washington, and his wife Susan Corwin became subscribers to our Crossroads Series in 2014. The choice of this particular series to subscribe to indicates their eclectic tastes, and they frequently came to Meany for other events as well on our dance, piano and chamber series, including performances by Cloud Gate Theater of Taiwan and, most recently, Midori and Jean-Yves Thibaudet. In 2018, they took the plunge and became donors, contributing to our Friends of Meany Center Fund and Meany Education Outreach programs.

The performing arts was just one of Joe’s passions — he was also an ardent hiker, skier and gourmand. His long career as a professor and researcher, first at Yale and then at the University of Washington, included time spent on the research team at CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research), in Switzerland. Joe passed away in March, 2021.

David Hughes

Born in Bothell, David Hughes graduated from the Far Eastern and Russian Institute at the University of Washington and then went on to become one of the youngest people to ever enter the career Foreign Service when he first joined in 1961. After an initial posting in Georgetown (British) Guiana, he was transferred to Hong Kong where he became the first person to achieve a professional level in Cantonese without going to formal language training.

For the next few years, David bounced back and forth between Washington D.C., Taiwan and Hong Kong before he left the Foreign Service and ran for office in Washington State’s First Congressional District. He didn’t win, but the First District’s loss was David’s personal gain. He moved to Taiwan to teach in a university there and met his future wife, Cathy.

In 1980, David reentered the Foreign Service and the couple traveled the world, playing their part in global diplomacy; David was presented with “The Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary” by then-president Mátyás Szűrös for his service as Embassy attaché in Budapest during the seismic shifts toward democracy in Eastern Europe following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Other postings included Guangzhou, Hong Kong (again), Jakarta and Mumbai— all cities that are a hodgepodge of stimulating cultural activities in music, dance and a thousand other arts.

Back in Seattle, David and Cathy became subscribers and donors to Meany. To help support an ongoing and thriving conversation between East and West through the lens of the arts, they created the Catherine and David Hughes Asian Programming Endowment, ensuring opportunities for citizens of our community to experience the remarkable and varied artists of Asia for many years to come. We lost David in February 2020. Cathy Hughes is currently co-President of the Meany Center Advisory Board.