In memoriam: Former State Sen. Harriet Spanel

Harriet Spanel, who represented northwest Washington in the state Legislature for more than two decades and was a strong sup-porter of Western, died Feb. 2, 2016, at age 77. 

Spanel served three terms in the state House and four in the state Senate representing the 40th District, which includes  WWU as well as portions of Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan counties. 

Spanel’s reputation for smart questions, quiet intelligence and collaborative nature made her very popular among voters and fellow legislators. When she retired in 2009, she was chairwoman of the state Senate Democratic Caucus.  

She was also the wife of the late Les Spanel, a longtime member of the Physics faculty who was in charge of running Western’s planetarium. Following Les Spanel’s death in 2002, Harriet Spanel donated funds for significant upgrades at the planetarium, including a state-of-the-art digital projection system. Western named the planetarium after Les Spanel in 2014.