This Women’s History Month, we are highlighting some of the incredible women who made an impact in Seattle’s past and those leaving their mark in Seattle today.

Politician, restaurateur and civic activist Ruby Chow did not accept any nonsense. As the first Asian American elected to the King County Council in 1973, she pushed Seattle Public Schools to offer bilingual education for newly arrived students. Later, when she realized a plan was afoot to move the program into a substandard building, she made an appointment with the man with said plan. Upon her arrival, according to Northwest Asian Weekly, the superintendent of schools told her, “I hope you don’t mind waiting — I have a crisis to deal with.”

“And I’m your next one,” she replied.

Chow’s local heroism started young. Born in 1920, she dropped out of Franklin High School at age 16 to help support her nine siblings after the death of their father during the Great Depression. A year later, she moved to New York to find work waiting tables, including at a gay bar called the Howdy Club. Returning to Seattle, she and her husband Ping opened Ruby Chow’s in 1948 — an upscale restaurant at Broadway and Jefferson where celebrities partied, politicians made deals and business got done (and, for a time, Bruce Lee waited tables). As owner and hostess, she became an influential figure, then a well-nigh unstoppable one. Chow advocated for Seattle’s Chinese community, immigrants and services in the city’s South End; mentored other politicians including former Gov. Gary Locke; and helped open the Wing Luke Museum. Her service on the County Council extended to three terms; her beehive hairdo extended skyward. She also raised five children, including Cheryl Chow, who followed her example of public service to the Seattle City Council from 1990-97 and the Seattle School Board from 2005-09.

Chow never forgot the difficulty of her youth, when her mother worked three jobs and her brothers still had to knock on the back doors of restaurants to ask for leftover food. After Chow’s death in 2008 at age 87, daughter Cheryl recalled, “My mom made a promise to herself if she ever was in a position to help others, she would.”

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are honoring the women who left their mark on Washington in the past and the women who are making their mark in the Pacific Northwest today. In recognition of and to draw attention to the continued underrepresentation of women as sources and subjects in the media, we’ve focused the following stories on women for the March 6 print edition of The Mix.

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