Cassandra Tate

Cassandra was a journalist, historian and author, and a wife, mother, grandmother and aunt beyond compare. She was born in Twin Falls, Idaho, the first child of Mary Elizabeth Bolton. She grew up in Seattle, graduated from Franklin High School in 1963, went to the University of Washington for a year and then headed out on her own. She worked as a reporter at the Twin Falls Times-News and Elko (Nevada) News.

From there she moved to the Lewiston (Idaho) Morning Tribune where she met her husband, Glenn Drosendahl, and won a year-long Nieman Fellowship at Harvard for her environmental reporting. She was the first Idaho journalist awarded that honor, and possibly the only Nieman ever to arrive at Cambridge without a college degree. After spending the 1976-77 school year in Massachusetts, Cassandra, Glenn and daughter Linnea returned to Lewiston before moving to Seattle in 1979. Cassandra reviewed restaurants for Puget Sound Business Journal, wrote for The Weekly, served as managing editor of Seattle Voice magazine and, while working as a science/medical reporter for the Journal-American, wrote about the revival of nature at Mount Saint Helens five years post-eruption.

After all those gigs, plus writing op-ed pieces for the Seattle Times and magazines such as Smithsonian, she decided it was time to go back to school. She used credits from Harvard and a year of classes on campus to earn her overdue bachelor’s degree at UW, and stayed there to get her Ph.D. at age 50. She turned her doctoral dissertation into a book – “Cigarette Wars: Triumph of the Little White Slaver,” published by Oxford University Press.

Cassandra briefly worked as a media features editor and content provider for Microsoft’s MSN and then became a major contributor to, the online encyclopedia of Washington state history. She wrote 217 essays for HistoryLink before turning her interest in missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman into an acclaimed book. “Unsettled Ground: The Whitman Massacre and its Shifting Legacy in the American West” was published by Sasquatch Books in November 2020. By then Cassandra was 14 months into a fatal struggle with fallopian tube cancer. She died at home June 10, 2021. Besides her husband and daughter Linnea Tate Rodriguez, she is survived by two grandchildren, Emma and Samson Rodriguez. She was especially close to two nieces, Shelly and Elizabeth Delaney. A memorial service is being planned. In lieu of flowers, it would please Cassandra to have donations sent in her name to Planned Parenthood, Book-It Repertory Theater and West Seattle’s ArtsWest Playhouse.

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