Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

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Jul 28 2009

The Definition of a Fighter and Advocate: Bob Markholt (February 1, 1937—July 19, 2009)

Published by at 9:08 pm under Community Leaders

We lost one of my heroes on July 19, 2009. Bob Markholt passed away from complications of lymphoma at age 72. Bob was a tenured faculty member at the Seattle Vocational Institute (SVI) and head of the Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Training Program (PACT). The success of the program Bob built made it a model for similar programs nationwide. Bob was a true advocate for people and social justice. Many young people enter PACT either having been in prison or on the path to it. Through PACT, Bob empowered young people by providing them the training and self-esteem to land jobs as carpenters, electricians, brick layers, laborers, painters, sheet metal workers, cement masons, plumbers and roofers.

When I decided to run for political office, Bob was one of my friends who selflessly put in the hard work to help get me elected. We shared a common vision of making sure there was fairness and parity in the workplace and prosperity possibilities for all. Bob and I had previously worked together as part of the Rainier Valley Community Development. He gave me his endorsement and advocacy. For this, I will be eternally grateful. However, I am even more grateful for the work Bob has done to empower young people who otherwise may not have been given opportunities.

The following will give those of you who did not know Bob a sense of his passion and commitment.

On May 6, 2009, as Bob was battling lymphoma, he testified before my Energy and Technology Committee. He was advocating for one of his graduates, who he believed had the skills to succeed but did not make it into City Light’s Line Worker Apprenticeship program. He was critical of City Light’s apprenticeship program because none of his students had been accepted into the program. Bob believed it to be highly coveted and very competitive. Bob testified that his student was qualified for the program and that would become evident if someone would give him the chance to prove it. That was Bob, selfless and looking out for those who needed help, even when his health was failing and his days possibly numbered.

Bob certainly influenced a lot of people and left his mark on their lives. We need more of Bob Markholt’s spirit in this world. He will be missed by many of us.

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