UW News

May 18, 2006

35 Year Club

Last summer, University Week asked faculty and staff who have been here for 35 years or more to submit reminiscences about their time at the University. This memory of the late UW professor and Washington Governor Dixy Lee Ray was submitted by Jim Anderson, associate professor, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. (See clarifying note at end.)

One summer, I believe it was in 1968, I worked for Dixy Lee Ray. She was the director of the Pacific Science Center, which was her interim job between zoology professor and state governor.

Dixy was a strong idiosyncratic person who did everything with gusto and little regard for consequences. Her driving was infamous and my one ride with her, in a three-quarter-ton flatbed truck, was wholly memorable. Admittedly, it was an early Sunday morning, but sliding through stop signs, a few crosswise, was disconcerting at best.

The ride went over the top when we reached the Science Center. The lot was full of cars without permits. Trying to fit in a very small space with a large flatbed truck, she dented two cars, broke the taillight off a third, and finally vaporized the rear window of a fourth. After one term as governor, and not making it past the primaries of her run for re-election, she headed Nixon’s Atomic Energy Commission. In D.C. she lived in a trailer with several dogs.”

Editor’s note: Our writer has slightly mistaken the chronology of Ray’s career. She was was appointed to head the Atomic Energy Commission in 1973, before her stint as governor of Washington, which was from 1976 to 1980.