Fiery Teamster Donohoe Supported Humanities as Board Member

In the latest installment of 40 Years of Washington Stories, we reflect back on someone who used the editorial page to link the perspectives of the humanities, workers and unions.

Humanities Washington is celebrating our 40th anniversary with 40 Years of Washington Stories. Each week on Spark, we’ll offer a snapshot from our past, sharing stories that have helped shape the humanities in Washington state.

The governor proclaimed April 1st ‘Ed Donohoe In The State of Washington Day’ with the following text:

“Whereas, during his career, Ed has pioneered new frontiers in bad taste…”

During the 34 years that he worked as an editor for the Washington Teamster, Donohoe used the editorial page to ruthlessly tear into any public figure that he believed had stepped out of line. Donohoe became a local legend for his scathing sense of humor, nicknaming Senator Slade Gorton “Slippery Slade” and changing the word “Voters” in League of Women Voters to “Vultures.”

When Donohoe joined Humanities Washington as a trustee in 1980, he became part of a long line of board members who represented organized labor, including Tacoma labor leader Norm Schut and Sam Kinville, former government affairs director for the Washington State Labor Council.

According to the Seattle Times, Donohoe’s appointment prompted former Washington governor Daniel J. Evans to blurt, “Geez, Ed, you’re interested in humanity?” Despite his fiery manner, Donohoe was an effective and aggressive advocate on the part of Humanities Washington. A letter he mailed to each of Washington’s federal legislators included the following line:

“As a representative of organized labor, I can’t tell you how much our local humanities commission has meant in telling the workers’ story in the past ten years. It is an honor to serve on a Commission like this and to see first-hand its many accomplishments.”

Donohoe saw links between the humanities and the unions that he championed, and he applied himself fully to both causes. Donohoe passed away in 1992, at age 74.

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