jeff

 

When Jeff Wahlquist retires this month, he will be greatly missed. Many of you may remember Jeff. For part of his time in WEA, he was assigned to our Council. He has always been a strong voice of advocacy for you, our members, and his voice will be missed.


“I was born in Yakima, Washington in 1946. Yep, everyone has a story that starts out that way.” Ask Jeff if he’d live anywhere else in Washington State and he’d say, “Sure, name a place in the Eastern Region.”

As Jeff’s dad was an administrator, he attended public schools throughout the state, finally settling in Selah, WA where he graduated from Selah High School in 1965. Staying close to home was important to him, so he enrolled in Yakima Valley College, earning an AA in Communications. With a brief stint in the summer of 1967 working for newspapers in Ogden, Utah, he then returned to Yakima to marry Marilyn, his high school sweetheart.


It only made sense to take classes at Central Washington University, but Jeff received an offer with big bucks from the Yakima-Herald-Republic and just quit going to classes, yet neglecting to withdraw from school. Eight years later he reapplied at Central and found he had 21 hours of “F” on the books. (Remember that not withdrawing thing?) On probation for two quarters, he did graduate in 1977 with a BA in Education and a major in English. During that time he worked 40 hours a week at Bi-Mart and had Christmas and New Year’s Day as his only days off.


When asked why he went into education, Jeff says that the pace of his job for the Herald, his desire to give back more to others and his upbringing (he was just one of those guys with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles in education) drew him into the profession.
Jeff was hired by the West Valley School Dis-trict (Yakima) prior to completing student teaching (“Ah, I’ll just keep the signed con-tract in a safe until you graduate”, said his principal.) Jeff taught High School English and Journalism until hired on as WEA staff.


The teaching profession was a bit rocky during the late seventies and early eighties throughout the state. West Valley EA went out on strike for ten days during Jeff’s second and fourth year of teaching. He was local president his third year and he was RIFed the fifth year (BTW he did get his job back).


Jeff served in many leadership roles while he taught. In addition to his position as WVEA president, he was the MidState UniServ Council president, he served on the WEA Board, WEA Executive Board and NEA Board. In 1989 Jeff applied and was hired for a UniServ staff position in the MidState UniServ Council in Yakima. He worked there until 1997, later accepting a staff position at WEA-Eastern in Spokane, Washington. Currently Jeff is the Bargaining Specialist for WEA and has been so since 2002.


Jeff has been lead organizer for many crises in the Eastern Region including Moses Lake, West Valley (Yakima), Grandview, Eastmont, Yakima, Touchet and many more. He has been the lead organizer for several strikes; one of the most important for WEA members, the Bellevue strike of two years ago.


Jeff has been very active in both WEASO and NSO. He has helped author a training manual on Organizing and will continue to train for NSO after retirement.


Jeff and Marilyn have been married for 43 years and have three grandchildren. Jeff is attached to the Spokane area and the Eastern Region and plans to retire in Spokane. Jeff’s and Marilyn’s parents reside in Spokane along with their son Ryan and his family. Jeff and Marilyn’s son Erik and his family live in Wenatchee.


Jeff is a fantastic cook and a master at gardening. Other hobbies of his are golf, fishing, and model railroading.