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Woman killed was a leader in Jewish community here
Seattle Times staff reporter
Pamela Waechter, 58, who was killed in Friday's shooting at the Jewish Federation, grew up in Minneapolis as a Lutheran, the daughter of a businessman. She converted to Judaism after marrying Bill Waechter, who was Jewish, and the couple moved to Seattle in 1979.
After raising their two children, Waechter graduated from the University of Washington, with a degree in nutrition.
She became much more active in the Jewish community than her husband, rising from secretary to become president of Temple B'nai Torah from 1988-90. Bill Waechter today recalled loud, shouting meetings of the temple's board that took place in their home, while he was in the other room, watching television.
"I'd hear her give her opinion, and everybody would shut up and listen," recalled Waechter, who remained friends with her after their divorce. "It was amazing how she would command the attention of all these old guys."
Before joining the staff at the federation, where most recently she was director of the annual fundraising campaign, Waechter worked for four years at Jewish Family Service. There, she managed a food bank and served as an emergency services caseworker and volunteer coordinator, according to the federation Web site.
In her eight years at the federation, according to the Web site, Waechter's jobs included outreach coordinator, director of special events, and various fundraising posts.
In both her paid and volunteer work, she was known as a mediator, always bringing a calm, balanced approach to problems.
"I wouldn't be surprised if Pam stepped in to protect other people," said Marshall Brumer, a past president of Temple B'nai Torah. "That's the kind of person she was."
At the Bellevue synagogue this morning, Rabbi James Mirel called Waechter "the most positive, optimistic person you ever met." From the pulpit, he told the congregation, "Pam would have said, 'You have to go on.'"
Chuck Hall, 56, of Minneapolis, explained that "no" was the one word his sister wouldn't say. He described her as a friend to people of all ages, from 20 to 80.
His sister had no answer. She only sighed.
Waechter believed in the basic goodness of people. So if the scene on Friday had unfolded elsewhere, her brother said, she would have called him right away to say: Can you imagine somebody would do that?
She would not have mentioned first the fact that the shooter was Muslim, Hall said. She was not that kind of woman.
Given family history, he said, Waechter was relieved to make it this far in life. Their mother died at age 56, of breast cancer. Waechter always saw that age as a milestone she needed to make it past.
Waechter's funeral will be 1 p.m. Monday at Temple B'nai Torah, 15727 NE Fourth St., Bellevue, according to the synagogue. The service will be open to the public.
Staff reporter Janet I. Tu contributed to this report.
Cara Solomon: 206-464-2024 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company