Local Democratic fixture Bill McCaw dies

The retired dairyman was also known for frequent letters to the editor.


WALLA WALLA -- Longtime local political activist and prolific editorial letter-writer W.N. "Bill" McCaw, 79, died Saturday at his home.

His wife, Sarita, said McCaw died suddenly from congestive heart failure. A funeral is planned for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church in Walla Walla and arrangements are under the direction of Herring-Groseclose Funeral Home, she said.

A retired dairyman and farmer, McCaw was the Walla Walla County Democratic Party chairman as well as the 16th Legislative District Democratic Party state committeeman. He was also well known to readers of the Union-Bulletin's editorial page as a frequent contributor to the letters column.

"He loved to do that," Sarita McCaw said today about her husband's writing. "He liked to share his views with people. The delightful thing is everyone knew him."

According to his own biography, McCaw was born Jan. 23, 1930 and lived the first six years of his life near Prescott before his family moved to Lowden. Growing up, McCaw said he "went (to) all eight grades in one of the last one-room schools in Washington" before moving on to Walla Walla High School.

After graduation, McCaw went to Washington State University where he earned a bachelor's and master's degree in agriculture. He then joined the U.S. Navy and after attending officer candidate school was commissioned as an ensign.

After his discharge, McCaw returned to Lowden where he farmed with his brother and father and managed the family's dairy operation. He also became active in the Republican Party "until Pat Robinson's people took the state party over, when I fled to the Democratic Party where I have been active in county politics since that time," he wrote.

"He will definitely be missed," said Kathy Amarasinghe, 16th Legislative District Democratic Party chairwoman. "He did a lot for the community and for the local Democratic Party and he will be hard to replace."

Along with politics, McCaw had interests in photography, reading and singing, including with the Walla Walla Choral Society in the recent performance of Handel's "Messiah."

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318. Check out his blog at blogs.ublabs.org/randomthoughts.


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