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Jo Hendricks wrote editorials for The Fig Tree for 23 years

By Mary Stamp

There have been some influential women journalists over the years, but few made their debut as editorial writers at the age of 70 and continued into their 90s, as Jo Hendricks did with The Fig Tree.  She died Sept. 16 at a care facility in Spokane. 

Jo was born in 1913 in Mansfield, Wash.  Her social-justice minded father was an attorney in Wenatchee and her mother was a teacher.  After her father died, her mother took the family to Seattle, where Jo attended high school and studied journalism at the University of Washington.  After marrying Frank Hendricks in 1935, they moved to Spokane in 1937.

Jo, one of the Fig Tree founders, brought a resolute voice on issues people of faith hold in common.  She connected the call to heal the world, make peace, eradicate poverty, care for the vulnerable and protect the environment with the teachings of faith.  Prophetically, she tied faith to the paradigms, paradoxes, oxymorons and caveats of these decades of history.  Her editorials from 1984 to 2006 gave an overview of what happened in the world, the nation, the state, the region and the community.  Her insights into peacemaking and war-making, justice and injustice, democracy and oppression, faith and secular values shattered typical excuses for giving in to the ways and whims of power. 

Her reflections were based not only on knowledge of theology, history, literature, poetry and economics, but also her experiences of serving the poor at a food bank, volunteering at polls on election day, helping resettle Hmong and Vietnamese refugees, and promoting global concerns through the United Nations Association.  The Fig Tree published a book of her editorials in 2006.  Jo received the 2007 award of the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media for “media excellence.”

The family has suggested that memorial gifts may be sent to Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church, 4102 S. Crestline, Spokane WA 99223 orto The Fig Tree, 1323 S. Perry St., Spokane WA 99202.