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Originally published Monday, October 29, 2012 at 9:02 PM

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Leaders in praise of their mentors

Business execs stand in a hot-dog line; a student shares her prize of a year's worth of wine and salmon; and the Total Experience Gospel Choir hits a milestone.

Seattle Times staff columnist

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It's not often when you see local heavyweights like Holland America CEO Stein Kruse and retail scion Peter Nordstrom standing in a buffet line, waiting for hot dogs.

But the Terrace Club at Safeco Field was as level as the field beyond it Friday, when the Washington State Mentors (WSA) nonprofit held its annual luncheon.

Kruse received the "I Care About Kids" award for Holland America's commitment to the WSA. (It has raised more than $150,000 in the past six years with onboard luncheons.)

The honor came with your standard glass hardware, but the real award was a quilt made by Linda Owen, the wife of Lt. Gov. Brad Owen.

For his part, Owen donated a series of three archery lessons (who knew?) to the live auction. It sold for $500.

The event was more a conversation, where eight community leaders spoke of their own mentors.

Melvin R. Sheldon Jr., chairman of the Tulalip Tribes, gave thanks to a man named Hugh Bone, who got him interested in politics.

Trish Millines Dziko, founder of the Technology Access Foundation, was mentored by her high-school basketball coach, who made her sit out so she would learn how to lead.

Nordstrom cited his father, Bruce Nordstrom, who beamed beside him, as well as his high-school basketball coach. (We had a theme going here.)

Sheila Edwards Lange, a vice president and vice provost at the University of Washington, cited Constance Rice. (Former Mayor Norm Rice, seated at the next table, perked up: "Hey! I know her!")

Community activist Bob Santos spoke of his father, and those who started Seattle's Chinatown International District.

Holli Martinez, the co-founder (with husband, Edgar) of The Martinez Foundation, cited the teachers in her life — past and present.

Author Sundee Frazier also remembered a teacher, Mrs. Reed, "Who gave me something productive to do at a very tumultuous time in my life."

Last, but not least, Costco Chairman Jeff Brotman spoke of how his parents taught him about social justice and leading by example, and how his wife "taught me how to be more humble than I was 37 years ago." (No wonder he bid on — but lost — the Nordstrom shopping spree.)

I had to ask: What does Brotman buy at Costco? (Besides teeth whitener, anyway. You need sunglasses every time the man smiles, which is a lot.)

"Virtually everything," he told me. "I don't know how we do it, but there's just two of us, and we're consuming it all."

Edgar Martinez is "hitting his stride" after retiring from baseball, said his wife, Holli, working in the tequila-import business and developing an "inspirational curriculum" for children.

We'll always love him, I told her.

"Me, too."

One tweet — 80 meals

Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. But teach a graduate student to tweet, and you can eat pretty well, too.

Jessica Rohde, 27, who is getting her master's in aquatic and fishery sciences at the UW, won a Year of Wine and Wild Salmon in a promotional contest put on by Salmon-Safe.

Rohde tweeted a pledge to eat sustainable salmon for a year and was randomly chosen for the grand prize.

Sounded great, until Rohde realized what 26 pounds of Bristol Bay salmon looks like — and the limits of her freezer.

"There's no way I could eat all of this, even in a year," she said.

Enter Jessica Roshan, a grant manager in the same department who, with a group of friends, had committed to cook a monthly meal for 40 at the Jubilee Women's Center.

They had been funding the project themselves, but their hearts are bigger than their wallets.

So Roshan sent out an email on a social list at UW — could anyone donate food to the project?

Last Wednesday, the women at Jubilee feasted on grilled salmon tacos, courtesy of Rohde, and Roshan is happily perusing recipes for next month.

"The women were astounded and thrilled because they said we are bringing them high-quality, healthy food," she said.

Said Rohde: "Everyone should enjoy salmon because they're iconic in our area, and so tasty. And I was just happy to do something."

But wait a sec: Wasn't it salmon and wine?

"I've been drinking the wine," Rohde said. "But I have been sharing it!"

Raising the roof

"If the music is too loud, that's too bad," Pastor Patrinell Wright told the crowd that packed the Seattle First Baptist Church on Sunday, when her Total Experience Gospel Choir celebrated its 39th anniversary.

Wright filled the place with friends, including Monk Senji Kanaeda of the Nippon Zan Temple, who offered a blessing; the Rain City Women's Chorus with director Joanne Christen; the Northwest Repertory Singers with director Paul Schultz; and the Wallingford United Methodist Church Choir with director Louis Magor, who has accompanied Total Experience on piano for years.

Ivan Johnson did a stirring rendition of "How Great Thou Art," while Kabby Mitchell, the former choreographer for "Black Nativity," accompanied him in dance. ("Black Nativity" starts its 15th year on Dec. 6 at Seattle's Moore Theatre, by the way.)

The afternoon brought Wright to tears.

"It has not been pretty," she said of the choir's tenure, though it has spawned a couple of "American Idol" contenders (including Sanjaya Malakar, now a bartender living in Queens), international travel and home building in the Katrina-ravaged South.

"But God has blessed us beyond measure."

Nicole Brodeur's column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334; nbrodeur@seattletimes.com. Twitter: @nicolebrodeur. Subscribe on Facebook: facebook.com/STNicoleBrodeur

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