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Thursday, July 27, 1995 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Minnie Hagmoe, Public Servant

She climbed Mount Rainier in 1917 when few were doing it. She kept public agencies in line.

She did the finishing work on two homes she built and held two jobs to put her daughters through college.

Her life was so full of color and hyperbole it resembled a cartoon. But there was nothing "Mickey Mouse" about Minnie E. Hagmoe, who died July 22 at 100 after a fall.

"She was quite a woman," said her granddaughter Barbara Schaad-Lamphere of Seattle. "She didn't have `can't' in her vocabulary. She wouldn't take `no' for an answer, but not in an obnoxious way.

"She raised a generation of children and grandchildren who could figure out how to do something in spite of adversity."

Schaad-Lamphere said that right after Mrs. Hagmoe's marriage, her husband was drafted for World War I. Teary-eyed, Mrs. Hagmoe traveled to the Bay Area. But she was barred from seeing her husband.

"She was so determined," said Schaad-Lamphere, "she went right to the base commander and got four hours to spend with her husband before he shipped out."

Born in Chicago, Mrs. Hagmoe came to Seattle in 1899 when her father opened the Suess and Smith art-glass shop. She played girls' basketball at Lincoln High.

After school she launched herself into public service, which she considered a calling.

Mrs. Hagmoe worked as a state welfare-department supervisor, a field officer for the Works Progress Administration, director of services to the Armed Forces for the Seattle War Commission and as a supervisor in the licensing division of the Seattle Comptroller's Office.

She even was an investigator for the King County Personal Tax Department.

"Mother was wonderful with the public," said her daughter, Phyllis Lamphere of Seattle. "Even those she tracked down for delinquent taxes wound up thanking her for finding them."

She once startled her Laurelhurst neighbors by having a circus deliver elephant dung one hot July evening.

"Her garden was resplendent," Lamphere said. "The timing was unfortunate but the crop of elephant peas was unsurpassed."

Mrs. Hagmoe's survivors include six additional grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Her husband, Ernest Hagmoe, and daughter Evelyn Green predeceased her. Services are private. Remembrances may be made to the Library for the Blind, 821 Lenora St., Seattle, WA 98121.

Copyright (c) 1995 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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