Marion Moos was a farm wife for many years before she began to realize that the rights of women were being neglected. This sparked a quest for equality that would lead her to be called Spokane’s “mother of feminism” before she died this year.
The YWCA has recognized her decades of community activism by awarding her the 2019 Women of Achievement lifetime achievement award. Moos is one of 10 women selected by the YWCA to receive an award at the organization’s annual luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Friday at the Spokane Convention Center. Tickets are $125 and available by calling (509) 789-9312.
Moos was born and raised on Spokane’s South Hill, graduating from Lewis and Clark High School in 1942. She earned a degree in sociology from Washington State University and married her husband, Gene Moos, a week after she graduated.
“She was a farmer’s wife for 29 years,” said her daughter, Ginny Moos. “My dad was a wheat farmer.”
The couple farmed near Edwall and raised two daughters. Ginny Moos remembers that during harvest season, Moos would start making homemade yeast rolls at 5:30 a.m. “She worked really, really hard,” she said.
She was active in the Methodist Church in Edwall and in 1955 joined the Methodist Church Women’s Division. She attended many conferences across the country and at a conference in New York in 1970 found herself at the campaign office of Bella Abzug, a leading feminist.
When she returned home, everything changed. “She was completely inspired and fired up,” her daughter said. “She was back in the day when housewives on farms in the middle of nowhere didn’t have any relevance. Those were hard times for women. We really weren’t full citizens. We don’t know what it would like back then.”
But Moos was determined to be relevant. She joined letter-writing campaigns and boycotts. She invited foreign students to spend their holidays and summer breaks on the farm. “She spread out even in Edwall,” she said.
After she and her husband divorced, Moos moved to Spokane and opened the Past-Time Feminist Bookstore in 1973. It became a gathering place for like-minded women. “She just had an entourage,” her daughter said. “They had a great time.”
Mary Ann Murphy, who was the executive director of Spokane’s Partners With Families and Children for many years, thinks that is where she met Moos. “I just don’t know when I didn’t know her,” Murphy said.
Murphy would become part of Moos’ group, mobilized for this candidate or that cause, but that wasn’t her only tie to the Past-Time Feminist Bookstore. That’s where she met Robert Glatzer, a New York filmmaker who would become her husband.
He was later best known for hosting the Movies 101 radio show on KPBX. “He was quite the advanced feminist himself,” Murphy said. “They were such soulmates. They believed in the same things.”
Moos founded a Spokane chapter of the National Organization for Women and worked to pass the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “She was a visionary in the same way May Arkwright Hutton was 100 years ago,” Ginny Moos said. “She saw what would be.”
Ginny Moos said her mother was always studying and reading, collecting facts for her arguments. “She could have been a very good attorney,” her daughter said.
The bookstore was only open a few years, but that didn’t stop her work in the community. She helped form the Spokane Human Rights Commission and was a founding member of several groups, including the United Nations Chapter of Spokane, the Spokane chapter of the Older Women’s League and Washington Women United.
She served on the YWCA board and was involved in the League of Women Voters. But feminism wasn’t the only battle Moos fought. She also fought for her community. In the early 1980s, she led the charge against a plan to turn Riverfront Park into a Disneyland-style theme park.
Glatzer joined Moos in creating a group called Save the Original Park, Murphy said. They battled the city for two years, launching a petition drive to keep Riverfront Park as it was. In the end, a public vote was held, and the city lost. The theme park plan died.
“For both of them, that was the most important thing they did for the community,” Murphy said. “She had that love of things that are quintessentially Spokane.”
That dogged determination sometimes turned people off, however. “People found her difficult at times because she would not let up,” Ginny Moos said. “She was very passionate about what she believed to be important. She wasn’t about to let it go.”
Murphy said Moos often collaborated with her friend, Jan Polek. “They would organize us for every International Women’s Day,” she said. “It was so important to Marion and Jan that we make a big deal about these things. She would just be thrilled that we were getting together and getting organized.”
Murphy remembers Moos as having high energy. “She just kept barreling through,” she said. “Marion just was the Energizer Bunny.” Moos also was fearless, Murphy said. “It’s always an admirable quality to speak truth to power,” she said. “She would not be intimidated by anyone.”
Murphy was one of several people – all women – who sent the YWCA emails in support of giving Moos a lifetime achievement award. “I think it was her persistence over time that really distinguished what she did for the community,” Murphy said.
Ginny Moos remembers her mother’s activism fondly. “She loved life,” she said. “She loved her friends. She was completely a confident person. She never doubted herself.”
About three years ago Moos developed dementia. She often wouldn’t remember her friends but always remembered her daughter. And she remembered much of what she had done. “It was embarrassing for her,” Ginny Moos said. “She was proud. She didn’t want to lose her edge.”
Ginny Moos said she was grateful and pleased when she learned about the posthumous award being given to her mother. “She would have thought she deserved it,” she laughed. “I really want my mother’s legacy to be remembered. She made such a difference.”