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In Memoriam — Jim Moeller (1955—2023): A life dedicated to service

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Jim Moeller — Courtesy photo
Jim Moeller — Courtesy photo

James Carl Moeller of Vancouver passed away on March 8 from progressive supranuclear palsy.

He was born in Vancouver on July 2, 1955 to Gladyce and Carl Moeller. As a Vancouver native, Jim went to Hough Elementary and McLouglin Junior High and graduated from Fort Vancouver High school in 1973. He developed a rich singing voice and a love for music as an active member of the theater and choruses.

His parents did not believe in failure to launch, so for his graduation they gave him a one-way ticket to Australia to visit his sister, who was teaching there. He was to make himself useful and earn enough to get himself home, and then they would pay for his college. He accomplished this task by delivering telegrams, sometimes singing them. His trip home with his sister in 1974 was another adventure: a 72-day overland bus journey from Kathmandu to London. At 18, it was an eye-opening experience. Jim always loved a road trip.

He received degree in psychology from Washington State University and did additional graduate study in social work at Portland State. He developed a specialty in chemical dependency and worked for Kaiser as a chemical dependence counselor for 30 years.

House Speaker Pro Tempore Jim Moeller looks out over the House Chamber moments before the start of a 30-day special session of the Legislature Wednesday, April 29, 2015, in Olympia — Photo by Elaine Thompson / AP  

But his greatest passion was his commitment to service. He was one of the first openly Gay men to serve on a city council and as a state representative in Washington. He was elected to the Vancouver City Council in 1995, and in 2002 as a state representative from the 49th District. He held the seat in the legislature from 2003 to 2017, serving on many committees, including as co-chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs. Jim was elected by his colleagues in the Washington House of Representatives as speaker pro tempore in 2011 and each succeeding year until his retirement.

As a representative, two of the many successful bills he co-authored were the Slayer Statute — which said that no murderer may benefit as a result of the victim's death — and the Vulnerable Adult Protection Act. He was a man of gentle strength and humor who served as a representative for all of his constituents.

State Rep. Jim Moeller meets with Cub Scout Pack 320 during their visit to the State Capitol in 2013 — Courtesy photo  

Jim was involved in many community organizations. He was a lifelong member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, a founding member of Clark County Pride and the YMCA Diversity Task Force, and chair of the Southwest Washington Health District Board of Directors, to name a few.

Jim lived his life well. He was known for his smile, his giggle, his subtle sense of humor, and his commitment to help others. He loved a good red wine, chocolate, traveling, and of course, his bow ties.

He is survived by his sister Fae and many cousins and friends. There will be a memorial service for Jim at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1309 Franklin Street, Vancouver, WA, on April 1, 2023 at 1 p.m., followed by a reception at the Academy, 400 E. Evergreen Blvd., Vancouver.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to Martha's Pantry, the Vancouver Food Bank, or Cure PSP at https://www.psp.org/.