America’s first overtly transgender mayor and lifelong Silverton resident Stewart “Stu” Rasmussen died Nov. 17 after battling prostate most cancers for greater than a yr. He was 73.
His 2008 election garnered worldwide media consideration from retailers corresponding to “Good Morning America” and Individuals journal. His run prompted a musical known as “Stu for Silverton,” which was carried out in Seattle and Minneapolis.
These closest to him say Rasmussen stood on the shoulders of transgender leaders who got here earlier than him and he was proud to have performed a task in influencing others to be absolutely themselves, in accordance with an obituary.
Rasmussen was born Sept. 9, 1948, in Silverton and was the one little one of Albert and Nan Rasmussen. He attended Silverton Excessive College and Salem Tech, now Chemeketa Neighborhood School, earlier than launching right into a profession in engineering and expertise. Rasmussen co-owned the Palace Theatre in Silverton with Roger Paulson from 1974 till 2020. However most keep in mind Rasmussen from his 2008 mayoral election in Silverton.
His accomplice, Victoria Sage, stated she has already obtained many letters from individuals who stated Rasmussen touched their lives.
”Every is totally different, all are lovely and heartwarming,” Sage wrote in an electronic mail to the Statesman Journal.
Sage and Rasmussen started courting in 1974 after assembly on the Fifth Avenue Cinema in Portland. She was promoting popcorn and he was there to repair the projectors. The couple married in 2014.
Rasmussen was not involved about pronoun utilization, accepting both he/him or she/her, Sage stated. A 2008 article in The Oregonian stated Rasmussen minimize “a definite determine amongst his flannel-clad neighbors” together with his wavy lengthy pink hair. ”It is a place that takes you for who you might be,” Rasmussen instructed the reporter.
His 2008 election impressed a motion for transgender consciousness and a protest from the Westboro Baptist Church that picketed in Silverton three weeks later. They have been met by a big crowd of demonstrating Silverton residents — a lot of them sporting attire — supporting Rasmussen and demanding congregation members go away city.
Present Silverton Mayor Kyle Palmer, who was typically Rasmussen’s political opponent in metropolis elections, stated Rasmussen was an excellent and tireless community- and self-promoter.
Rasmussen served two phrases for mayor beginning in 1988, and served intermittently as metropolis councilor and Silver Falls Library Board member.
”It was a reasonably distinctive second,” Palmer stated of the protest. “Our residents who dressed up in attire. Lots of them made indicators saying ‘not in our city,’ ‘go away,’ ‘Stu is our mayor.’ I do know it was extraordinarily shifting for him.”
Stu shared his story as a visitor speaker with Gonzaga College, Reed School, Queens School in New York and Harvard College, and was featured in publications together with The Advocate and Transgender Tapestry.
Regardless of Rasmussen’s progressive social values, his values for the Silverton neighborhood and the town’s fiscal coverage lay on the other facet of the political spectrum. That conservative way of living in Silverton often put him at odds with the council.
“There had been a whole lot of residential development and he ran on a platform of scaling development again, not turning Silverton into the city of the longer term, however sustaining its historic attraction,” Palmer stated. “He used the phrase, ‘Preserve Silverton Silverton.’ “
Rasmussen remained in workplace till he was unseated by Rick Lewis in 2014.
In an interview with the Statesman Journal in 2015, Rasmussen spoke of what he achieved throughout his 10 years as a part of the council, notably as mayor. The early warning system on the Silver Creek Dam, a brand new senior middle and a metropolis skate park have been hallmarks of the period, he stated.
However Palmer stated his greatest accomplishment was his skill to seamlessly join with the neighborhood.
”I may discuss all day about him as a result of I don’t suppose many individuals knew him deeply. However all people would say they knew him,” Palmer stated. “He had a way of connecting to those who made all people really feel like they knew him.”
Rasmussen was an indefatigable engineer and self-described nerd, his obituary states. Early in his profession, he labored in video engineering and manufacturing at Tektronix in Beaverton. From the Nineties till his loss of life, he was a contractor for quite a lot of Oregon producers together with Garmin, Intel and Sonic Blue. He was additionally an impartial provider of digital analysis and growth companies to entrepreneurs, in accordance with his obituary.
He introduced cable tv to Silverton and Mt. Angel within the Nineteen Seventies, developing a 35-mile coaxial tv plant to offer leisure companies, earlier than promoting his enterprise to a bigger cable tv supplier, in accordance with the obituary. Different innovations included the KissMeter and Relationship Analyzer, a shoebox-sized machine that measured the period and depth of a smooch, and Bogus Trivia, a tavern sport the place gamers competed answering trivia questions.