Jean Savidge, a union leader, founder of WEA-Retired and WEA Children’s Fund supporter
Jean started teaching in 1950 in Richland at a salary of $1,700 a year. During her teaching career, she also taught in Bellevue, Yakima, Westport, Cheney and Portland. She retired from the Hoquiam School District in 1982.
In June of 1983, NEA-Retired held its first annual meeting in Philadelphia. Two delegates from Washington, Gail Kirk and Jean attended at their own expense. These two women had an idea: create an organization in Washington state for retired educators to continue serving students and staff in public education. Working with the WEA president and executive director of the time, WEA-Retired held its first meeting in June 1987. During her lifetime of service, Jean served as WEA-Retired president, vice president, board director, and editor of the WEA-Retired News.
In 1993, she and Lee Gillam started the WEA-Retired pre-retirement seminar program, Taking Charge of Your Future. Throughout her 80s, she taught retirement sessions on healthcare and the state retirement plans and helped organize annual trainings for new and veteran presenters. Alongside other WEA-Retired members, she shared information with active WEA members to help them transition to their retirement years. She often said that when she first started the pre-retirement seminars, she wanted to make that transition easier for those who followed her. This program grew from five seminars during the first year to more than 50 seminars across the state today.
Jean remained very active throughout her 80s as a member of the WEA-Retired Legislative Work Team, lobbying in Olympia, attending council meetings, and participating in pre-retirement seminar trainings. Jean was also a regular attendee at the WEA Representative Assembly as a delegate, and she staffed the WEA-Retired table to answer questions and encourage other delegates to join WEA-Retired.
Jean would have celebrated her 92nd birthday in March 2022. She passed away in the fall of 2021. To honor Jean’s legacy, Jim, her husband of 39 years, suggests a donation to the WEA Children’s Fund.