The world lost Linda Medcalf to breast cancer on December 15, 2010. She was a passionate member of the community, and lived to serve others with enthusiasm.
Even when she was battling breast cancer, Dr. Medcalf thought of others more than herself. “One of the hardest times in her illness was when she had to give up teaching. But even then she was thinking of others. She put all of her coursework online so that people who followed her would have access to her teaching materials,” said one of Dr. Medcalf’s closest friends, Lucia Harrison.
Dr. Medcalf had a gift for giving, and always thought of others first. “Linda was smart, generous, and extremely strong willed. She had deep convictions about how to run our country. And she was never motivated by selfish endeavors. She hated to be in the limelight. She wouldn’t be caught dead in the National Democratic Convention,” said Harrison.
Giving back to the community was important for Dr. Medcalf. Her circle of influence reached farther than the average political science teacher. She wrote a number of books on politics as well as contributed to other’s books and papers. She also served as the Thurston County Commissioner, as well as other public office positions.
Dr. Medcalf really cared about her students learning about politics and how our country operates. “She said, ‘I want them to think critically about the things they care about, from a lot of different points of view.’ Her effort was never to convert them to a particular ideology, but to teach them about the political process to engage their curiosity,” said Harrison.
Dr. Medcalf’s confidence in the good of the world was made evident through her work. Her son, Jake Medcalf explained that “she did it with great faith. Faith in us. Faith that we could be better, faith that we could do it. No one was beyond reach.”
More than just giving, and having faith, Dr. Medcalf truly loved her fellow human beings. “She had absolute ferocious love for people. She had a fire that burned somewhere deep within her soul that you could not put out. It would just not let her stop doing what she could for others,” said Jake Medcalf.
“To the very last dying moment of her life, it was about someone else. It wasn’t about her, it wasn’t about her accumulation of stuff. It wasn’t about that. For her, it was about serving others, because she loved people,” said Jake Medcalf.
His mother’s faith propelled her to do everything she did. “That’s why she loved politics. That’s why she loved people. She believed that everybody could be better, that our country could be better. She had great faith in the power of people,” said Jake Medcalf.
“The part that I respect about her the most is, she would fight you. She would fight you to make sure the world is a better place. She promoted the fight for all of us. She would put us in places where we would learn that diversity matters; that all people are created equal,” said Jake Medcalf.
Even though her family is sad to see her go, Dr. Medcalf left them with important ideas to live and love by.
“She wanted us, yes, to acknowledge the fact that we miss her, and in the words of my brother, so wonderfully put, ‘This sucks, and I’m sad,’ because that’s true. [But] behind [it all] was this under-bearing passion to leave this world just a little bit better than she found it. She took so seriously the command to leave it better than she found it. She would want us to celebrate that,” said Jake Medcalf.
“She was clear about who she was, and lived her life and death based on who she was and what she believed. She believed in Democracy and Justice, and was committed to helping young people, and politicians understand their potential to influence the world,” said Tvedt.
Dr. Medcalf’s sense of community was part of what made her fun to be around. “She loved and was deeply committed to family. ‘We’ was one of her favorite words,” said Tvedt.
“As a friend, Linda was equally strong-willed, loving, and generous. No matter what she was doing, she had plenty of time for all of us. Even while she had a lot of friends, we always felt special around her. Linda encouraged all of us to pursue our passions. She listened to our problems. She counceled us,” said Harrison.