Chris Himes: A Lifetime of Service, Citizenship
Updated: Feb 1, 2022
Redmond’s first full-time female Mayor (1980-1984), and past President of the Redmond Historical Society (2008-2014), Chris Himes recalls highlights of her service.
Photo: Mary Hanson
RHS: When did you move to Redmond?
CH: We moved here from Bellevue in 1964. We lived on NE 116th on Education Hill. There were deer, bear, and trumpeter swans in our backyard. We moved here to have property! Our five children had the entire Puget Power Line as a playground. We had views of the entire Cascades mountain range.
RHS: Your husband traveled a lot; what was his job?
CH: My husband Jack worked in sales for the Hanes hosiery company. Remember L’eggs? He was in charge of supplying department stores in five states—WA, ID, OR, AK, and MT. [Laughs] He did a lot of traveling. I helped with inventory and accounting.
RHS: How did you manage raising five children?
CH: It was like organizing chaos. They played outside a lot. They learned about caring for the horses—grooming them, cleaning out their stalls, riding them. Horses are the best babysitters in the world!
RHS: Your mother worked in Washington, DC for a politician. What was her role? Did this influence you to become involved in politics?
CH: My mother worked for the U.S. Senate as Secretary of the Governmental Operations Committee, under then-Senator George Aiken. At one point she worked with Senator James Fullbright, who promoted legislation for educational grants for students (Fullbright Scholarship). I grew up thinking it was normal that everybody worked for the government! It was quite a culture shock moving to Washington State.
RHS: How were you involved in the Redmond community before running for mayor?
CH: I was a volunteer at Horace Mann Elementary, tutoring, writing the newsletter, field trips, and then did much the same at Redmond Junior High. We held consensus meetings, and I enjoyed hearing what other people had to say. I did tutoring and field trips. I was honored with the Golden Acorn service award. I was Vice President of the PTSA, and served on the Board of Faith Lutheran Church.
I worked with the first parks director of Redmond, John Couch, to organize a bond issue. We wrote an open letter to the Sammamish Valley News, asking citizens who wanted parks and trails to respond. The next thing I know, I’m writing up a brochure.
We didn’t get far with [Mayor] Bud Young, but the [city] council approved the bond issue. In 1977, the people voted for the park bond. A friend said I should run for city council to make sure the money would be spent on the parks. And so I did just that.
RHS: You were the first female full-time mayor in Redmond. What were some of the highlights and accomplishments that you are most proud of?
CH: Being a mayor that was “actually open for business, all the time, every day”; I left 19 parks and a trail system; I worked with Dorothy White Hanscom [granddaughter of Luke and Kate McRedmond] on the first walking tour, and to get the Justice White House on the King County and Local Landmarks Registry. Getting in the 85th Street Bridge by City Hall that opened Redmond’s first industrial park; hiring new planning director Kay Shoudy; and hiring new police chief Steve Harris..
We helped designate 14 buildings as historical landmarks. Dorothy Hanscom and I started work on the walking tours and developed the first brochure for the Bicentennial as a project. Tom Hitzroth updated it, and now runs a guided walking tour, and the Society has a 40-page booklet.
I worked with Barbara Beeson, an advocate for preservation of parks, horse trails, and open spaces in Redmond, at a time when the city was the early home to Microsoft and Nintendo, and faced traffic congestion and new development.
RHS: Tell us about your early involvement with the Redmond Historical Society.
CH: I met Naomi Hardy at the Redmond Library in 1998-1999, when she was putting the Society together. Naomi poured herself into the history of Redmond. I joined the Redmond Historical Society as a charter member and joined the Board in 2002. I became President in 2008, and served as President for seven years.
RHS: What are some of the highlights of your experience as President of the Redmond Historical Society?
CH: We needed funds to get the Society going. The early seed money came from Bill Rockenbeck. People stepped up to write grants to get us started I worked with John Philips, Margaret Wiese, Miguel Llanos, and Jerry Hardy to create endowments. We worked with the City of Redmond, King County, and 4Culture for grants. Our early sponsors were the City of Redmond, 4Culture, Nintendo, Nelson Legacy Group, Kemper Freeman (The Bellevue Collection), and Happy Valley Grange.
RHS: You’re an amazing lady. What’s your secret to a long and well-lived life?
CH: We don’t always know our paths. But I’m a big believer in prayer, and in giving back to the community. I’m very fortunate to have so much love in this life. It’s been a great ride!