Michelle Pailthorp

Michelle Pailthorp, 61, a Seattle trial attorney and weekend resident of South Whidbey, died early Wednesday at Virginia Mason Hospital, hours after suffering an aneurysm while working in her law office.

Ms. Pailthorp worked in environmental, political and women’s causes in Washington for more than 30 years.

She managed the 1972 referendum campaign that narrowly ratified the state Equal Rights Amendment.

During the 1970s, she served as legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington during the rewriting of the state’s juvenile code. She was a Washington delegate to the 1977 National Women’s Year convention in Houston.

In recent years, Ms. Pailthorp was an initial supporter of the 1992 campaign of Sen. Patty Murray.

Ms. Pailthorp served on the judicial candidate screening committee of Washington Women Lawyers, and was active in the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association.

Ms. Pailthorp and her spouse, Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Joel Connelly, made their weekend home on Whidbey Island in 1989. On the island, Ms. Pailthorp became active in the Northwest Island County Conservation Voters, Whidbey Animals Improvement Foundation and Birds of a Feather. She created an extensive woodland garden on land the couple own near Langley.

Born in Chicago, Ms. Pailthorp moved to Washington as a child. She was a graduate of Reed College and the University of Washington Law School.

In addition to Connelly, Ms. Pailthorp is survived by three children, Aaron Pailthorp, Melissa Pailthorp and Bellamy Pailthorp, all of Seattle; by son-in-law John Zilavy; and by granddaughter Olivia Pailthorp-Zilavy. A sister, Joan Laurence, lives in Ohio.

The family suggests remembrances to The Nature Conservancy, 1000 Friends of Washington, and the Northwest Horticultural Society.

A celebration of Michelle Pailthorp’s life will be held Aug. 8 at 4:30 p.m. at Town Hall, 8th and Seneca streets, Seattle. A future gathering of friends is planned for Whidbey Island.

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