Mary Gentry brings wealth of experience to board

A 1973 graduate of Saint Martin’s University, who taught school in both the Yelm and Tumwater school districts before starting a 30-year law career in the Sound Sound, is joining The Olympian’s editorial board.

Mary Gentry begins her 12-month term this week as one of two community representatives on the editorial board. She replaces Pam Toal, current executive coach and former United Way of Thurston County executive director.

The Olympian is one of only a few newspapers that include community members in the opinion-making process. We began with just one community representative 19 years ago, and added a second position six years later.

Earl Hale, the retired executive director of the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, is serving in the other community representative position that expires Dec. 31.

The two community representatives join additional board members senior editor Jerre Redecker, publisher and editorial page editor George Le Masurier and reporter/columnist John Dodge, who serves on an ad hoc basis.

Gentry grew up in the Spokane Valley before completing a Bachelor of Science degree in education at the University of Idaho and in 1973 a Bachelor of Arts in English from what was then known as Saint Martin’s College. She completed the course work for a master’s degree in comparative literature by 1978 and obtained a Juris Doctor degree in 1979 from the Seattle University School of Law.

In her personal life, Gentry met her husband, Fred, at the University of Idaho and moved with him to Olympia in 1966. They have one daughter, Katherine, a pediatric anesthesia fellow at the University Washington Medical School, working at Children’s Hospital in Seattle.

After a 10-year teaching career at Tumwater High School that began in 1967, Gentry finished law school, took the bar exam and began a law career that lasted nearly 30 years. She worked with her husband, and his partner, Steve Bean, in the firm of Bean and Gentry.

Her practice evolved to be exclusively probate, guardianship and estate planning. But she also continued to teach, both as a frequent speaker at continuing legal education seminars, but also as a business law professor at Saint Martin’s University and a legal-writing professor as the University of Puget Sound and Seattle University law schools.

She retired from her practice in 2007, but has remained active in community affairs. She sits on the board of trustees for Saint Martin’s, as well as Olympia Federal Savings and Loan and the Nisqually Land Trust. In the past, she has served with the Salvation Army, Providence St. Peter Hospital, Capital Area Youth Symphony Association, the Washington National Park Fund and the Washington Center for the Performing Arts.

In applying for a term on the editorial board, Gentry wrote, “My husband and I have lived and worked in this community for nearly 50 years. We have climbed Mount Rainier and traversed many other the peaks and valleys in between; we have counted birds with the Audubon Society and cleaned up the Butterfly Garden in Burfoot Park; dressed up for Centerfest and dressed down for stream cleaning. I have sat through countless hours of board meetings for organizations that span the spectrum of social service, education, medicine and the arts. I am a good listener, a quick study and accustomed to asking uncomfortable questions.”

Please join us in welcoming Mary Gentry to The Olympian’s editorial board.