The marks we leave: John Spellman, 1926-2018

Government leaders inevitably leave long paper trails and numerous digital footprints. One of the newest marks made by our own current King County Executive, Dow Constantine, honors his first predecessor in his office, Gov. John Spellman who died on Tuesday. Remembrances of Gov. Spellman this week prompted me to reach back into my personal archives for a record of when then County Executive Spellman’s paper trail and my much more humble one intersected.

In August of 1977, after completing my first cartography course, Geography 360 at the University of Washington (which I referenced in my last GIS & You post), Steve Johnson in the then King County Department of Planning and Community Development hired me for the six weeks before fall quarter started to work on a new comprehensive street map of King County. I assume that the first paycheck I ever earned as a mapmaker was signed by John Spellman (the pay stub must be in one of the myriad storage boxes in my basement), so that should be one document that bears both my name and Spellman’s.

Better than that, though, I still have a few copies of the map. As a very short-term intern, my name doesn’t appear in the map credits (nor did I think to sneak my initials onto the map while sticking up street names—manually positioning street name labels for you youngsters—as a former coworker at another job was known to do). But I offer you the message below from John D. Spellman, County Executive, as one cartographer’s remembrance of a unique leader and public servant in the history of King County.


John Spellman in Wikipedia

Patrick Jankanish is Senior Cartographer in the King County GIS Center and is a member of its Client Services group.

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