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Let’s pick 25 greatest Spokanites

Doug Clark The Spokesman-Review

Creating provocative yet ultimately pointless lists seems to be the principal preoccupation of our new millennial age.

Every magazine on the stands is trumpeting a list of “100 Greatest Movies” or “100 Greatest Rock Songs” or “50 Greatest Hair Loss Remedies.”

(I’m up to 35 on that last one, but nothing’s worked yet.)

This month on TV’s Discovery Channel, “Today” show host Matt Lauer is asking viewers to vote on a list of the so-called 25 Greatest Americans.

I checked out the finalists on the Discovery Channel Web site. Benjamin Franklin made the final cut, as did Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein. Nobody would argue the validity of those choices.

But get this: Oprah made the cut. Jonas Salk did not.

How great is a Top 25 list that includes Oprah but not the dude who came up with the freaking polio vaccine?

But why should Lauer have all the fun?

I say it’s time we compiled our own list of the 25 Greatest Spokanites!

Today I’ll toss out some of my choices. Then it’s up to you readers to send me your own nominations for Greatest Spokanites. So here goes:

Arts and entertainment

Bing Crosby

Pros: “White Christmas.” “Bells of St. Mary’s.” Gonzaga boy. Road movies. Ambassador for golf.

Cons: Chronic pipe smoker. Toupee wearer.

Billy Tipton

Pros: She put Spokane on the map by successfully masquerading as a man for more than half a century.

Cons: She put Spokane on the map by successfully masquerading as a man for more than half a century.


Tom Foley

Pros: Speaker of the House. Savior of Fairchild Air Force Base. Ambassador to Japan.

Cons: Freakishly large ears.

Steve Hasson

Pros: Perfected the curbside campaign wave. As county commissioner, he once jumped out of his courthouse office window to avoid reporters, who then chased him down the street.

Cons: A few fries short of a Happy Meal.


Walt Worthy

Pros: Selflessly rescued Spokane’s historic and resplendent Davenport Hotel.

Cons: Won’t loan me a stinking dime.

Al Domini

Pros: Spokane sandwich and popcorn God.

Cons: No lettuce. No tomato. Don’t ask.

Strong women

Vicki McNeill

Pros: Spokane’s first female mayor.

Cons: Tossed political career down Waste-to-Energy Plant.

Dorothy Dean

Pros: The Spokesman-Review’s Betty Crocker. Kitchen queen. Recipe maven.

Cons: Secret affair with Uncle Ben.

Minority members

Carl Maxey

Pros: NCAA boxing champ. First African American to become an attorney in Eastern Washington. Civil rights leader. Champion for the underdog.

Cons: Inspired way too many people to become lawyers.

Jimmy Marks

Pros: Vocal Gypsy leader.

Cons: Cursed city. Won’t remove it.


Evel Knievel

Pros: The world’s most famous motorcycle daredevil may be from Butte. But back in the day he logged a lot of hours in Sprague Avenue saloons.

Cons: Liver failed.

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