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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion

Time distinction an honor to all philanthropists

The Spokesman-Review

The following editorial appeared Tuesday in The (Vancouver, Wash.) Columbian.

There’s more than one reason Washington residents should feel especially good about Bill and Melinda Gates sharing the 2005 Time magazine “Persons of the Year” honor with Bono, the rock music star.

One is that the multibillionaire co-founder of Redmond-based Microsoft and his wife are the first residents of Washington state to have earned the distinction, which began in 1927 when Time named its first Man of the Year: aviator Charles Lindbergh.

Until Sunday’s announcement, the state’s closest direct connection was also Vancouver’s: Gen. George C. Marshall, who had been stationed here for 18 months from 1936-38. He was recognized twice by Time – in 1943 for his World War II military leadership and 1947 for leading the Marshall Plan to rebuild post-war Europe.

The state connection is one reason to cheer the appearance of the Gates couple on the magazine’s cover. The honor salutes their expenditure of time, energy and fortunes to fight poverty, disease and educational shortcomings in Third World nations. The Gates Foundation is credited with having saved at least 700,000 lives in vaccination programs in Africa and elsewhere. It also donated computers and Internet access to libraries, and it sponsors the world’s largest scholarship fund.

Bono, of the Irish group U2, courts politicians from around the world in his drive to help the world’s impoverished.

The second reason we can all take pride in the 2005 “Persons of the Year” honor is that, at some level, we believe, it also acknowledges residents across this county, state and nation.

Clark County has been blessed with extremely generous philanthropists, including Ed and Mary Firstenburg, David and Patricia Nierenberg, Paul Christensen, Ray Hickey, Ed Lynch, Leslie Durst and the late George Propstra.

But everyone who gave money and/or time to charitable causes in 2005 to help a wide range of people from Walk and Knock food-drive recipients to victims of natural disasters is a “Person of the Year” in our book.

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