Northwest Center Founder Cecile Lindquist
It is with great sadness that Northwest Center shares the passing of Cecile Lindquist, one of our founding mothers and a lifelong advocate for the inclusion of children and adults with disabilities at every level of the community.
Cecile was inspired to work for the education of children with disabilities when her beloved cousin Tommy, who had Down syndrome, was turned away from school in the early 1960s. “That was my beginning of working on behalf of all children,” she told us in this video, recorded last year:
Cecile went on to join with Seattle mothers of kids with disabilities to found Northwest Center, and then to write and pass the very first law in the nation, House Bill 90 or “Education for All,” to mandate public education for children with disabilities.
Governor Dan Evans, who was also Cecile’s cousin, remembered in 2015: “I told all of them the same thing: ‘You have to contact and convince legislators—and there are 148 of them.’ Most organizations would say, ‘Oh, that’s impossible.’ Not Cecile and Katie [Dolan, another of our founders]. Nothing slowed them down.” Read the remarkable story behind this world-changing legislation.
But Cecile’s work didn’t stop there—in fact, it never stopped. This profile of Cecile from 2015 is a classic example of how passionate, dedicated, and hardworking she remained on behalf of all children for her entire life.
“Cecile was my mentor and a role model,” says Northwest Center board member Parul Houlahan. “I will never, ever forget how on her own dime and time she toured the entire state and lobbied tirelessly in the late ‘80s for kids from 3-5 years old who needed special education—at the time, early education didn’t begin until age 5. She held so many meetings with parents and local legislators around the state in the smallest places and counties. We won because even the Office of the Superintendent of Public Education in Olympia supported us.”
Houlahan concludes, “The best way we can honor our founders’ memories is to do our job to the best of our abilities.”
Northwest Center President and CEO Gene Boes agrees.
“This is a sad day for everyone at Northwest Center,” he says. “We will celebrate Cecile’s life and her commitment to inclusion by continuing to work for a world that includes everyone. We honor Cecile and will extend her legacy through our work at NWC.”
We are grateful to Cecile Lindquist for her lifetime of service. We were blessed to have her friendship. She will be greatly missed.
Northwest Center is passionate about equal rights, anti-ableism, and full inclusion for people with disabilities. Thank you for reading.