Honored to Serve
By Lena Anthony
Volume 145, Number 6, November/December 2011, Page 6
Doris Woodward: Helping write the definitive history of the Spokane Police Department
Every Wednesday morning for the past eight years, Doris Woodward has had an appointment with the police. No, not that kind of appointment—she’s one of the main researchers responsible for writing, editing and printing the history of the Spokane Police Department. In addition to meeting weekly to discuss the goals of the project, she spends at least a few hours each week combing the archives of The Spokesman-Review, Spokane’s newspaper, uncovering new facts and checking those her team has already found.
“We’ve become such good friends over this,” she says of the committee, which includes fellow DAR member Rae Anna Victor. “I love the give and take. We don’t all agree about everything. We each have our own ideas, but we talk things out. It’s nice because life isn’t always like that.”
The project encompasses a series of five books, spanning the early history of Spokane (settled in the mid-1800s) to the present day. Right now, the team is wrapping up the third book, covering the Great Depression to World War II, which they hope will be finished by the end of the year.
“It’s a huge job but an interesting one, because we’re discovering new things about Spokane and our police department all the time,” she says.
One of the earliest facts Ms. Woodward and her team uncovered was the year the Spokane Police Department was established—1881, which is three years before the date listed on the police department badges. “They’ve been wrong all these years,” she says.
A longtime genealogist and self-proclaimed history nut, Ms. Woodward was first turned on to genealogical research after studying her own family’s lineage. “My mother died and left me family photo albums,” she says. “I had seen the photos before, but had not paid much attention to them. Suddenly, I wanted to know who these people were.”
She says she jumped in right away to look into both her mother’s and father’s family trees. “They had such different backgrounds, which made the research all the more interesting,” she says. Her father’s family settled in Maine and Massachusetts shortly after the Pilgrims arrived, while her mother’s family from Austria didn’t come until well after the Revolutionary War ended. She received an Award of Achievement from the Maine Genealogical Society for her work writing genealogical articles, editing and transcribing records.
Ms. Woodward, a member of Jonas Babcock Chapter, Spokane, Wash., believes that knowing your history—whether your family tree or the history of your city—is important. “We can learn so much from the past—whether from the mistakes people made or the wonderful things they did.”
Pat Tosch: Responding to families in times of crisis as a volunteer chaplain for the King County Sheriff’s Department
How do you help someone whose loved one has just died? What if that loved one was a beloved grandmother or a teenage son killed in a car accident? Ask Pat Tosch, who has developed the sensitivity necessary to handle such situations as a volunteer chaplain with the King County Sheriff’s Department in the greater Seattle area.
Ms. Tosch is responsible for notifying the next of kin when someone in the precinct has died. When making notifications to family members, she is very careful about how she approaches them. Since everyone reacts differently to tragic news, she has to make a quick assessment of how to help them understand what has happened. She not only gives them details about the death, but takes care in handling their emotional state. She also leaves her contact information for follow up. Sometimes she hears nothing from these grieving individuals; other times she has been asked to conduct funerals; and occasionally, she has developed friendships with the families she has served.
Ms. Tosch was the first female chaplain for the King County Sherriff’s Department when she joined in 2002, which surprised even her: “There are so many things a woman can do in this role that a man can’t,” she says. “When a mother is devastated over her son’s death, I can hold her. A man can’t do that. If there are children involved, I’m able to help with them in a way men just don’t know how to do. It’s often really nice to have a woman there.”
She has made it a personal mission to encourage more women to join the chaplaincy. “I’m recruiting all the time,” she says. Ms. Tosch also hosts a monthly luncheon at her house for an organization she created—the Northwest Women Chaplain Fellowship. “It started out just for female chaplains, giving us a chance to sit around and talk about the difficult calls we’ve been on, but it has since expanded to 911 operators and the women from the medical examiner’s office and police department. It’s tough to talk about our work with our families, so this gives us a chance to debrief and let go of the stress that is associated with our work among people who understand.”
Ms. Tosch, a member of the Cascade Chapter, Bellevue, Wash., also volunteers with a number of other local organizations, including the Port of Seattle Fire Department and the local chapter of the USO. Earlier this year, Ms. Tosch was involved in greeting U.S. military families who had to evacuate Japan after the tsunami ravaged the country and caused a nuclear crisis.
Ms. Tosch finds her work very fulfilling, but what’s most important to her is family, which includes her husband, two children, five grandchildren—and her local police department. “I love my police officers,” says Ms. Tosch, who has developed relationships with them by participating in ride-alongs. “I have a wall in my house with all of their pictures, and they’re always around for meals or just stopping in to say hello. My doors are open to them all the time. I was an only child, and I always wanted a big family with lots of boys. I got them; it just took me a while.”