Friday, March 7, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Frances North served her city, state

Seattle Times staff reporter

Frances Codiga North, a former state legislator who helped rescue Mount Si from logging and quarrying, died Monday (March 3) from complications of Parkinson's disease. She would have turned 84 on March 26.

Family and friends noted that she died less than a month after her husband of more than 60 years, Jim North, a legendary local athlete. He played tackle for the Washington Redskins and later coached various sports at Mount Si High School for almost 30 years.

"They were married 61 years," noted a niece, Annette Lund of Seattle. "Sometimes couples really bond, and when one goes, the other one goes."

Mrs. North's father, Archie Codiga, was a Swiss-Italian immigrant who started the Codiga Dairy Farm in the Duwamish Valley in the early 1900s, Lund said. Mrs. North's mother, Anna, was a professional singer and local schoolteacher.

Mrs. North was the eldest of five children, the first three of whom were daughters — not what her father had in mind for farming, Lund recalled. Still, at a time when girls didn't do that kind of thing, Mrs. North started a milk-delivery route at age 12, initially with a horse and buggy.

She expanded the route, and one way Jim North courted her was by helping out when they were in high school, Lund recalled. In a sense, as the eldest child, she became "used to being the boss," and it was natural that Mrs. North developed into a politician, she added.

Mrs. North served eight years as a North Bend councilwoman and was elected to serve as the 47th District state representative from 1973 to 1983. While in Olympia, she sponsored a bill to acquire private land surrounding property the state already owned on Mount Si.

Logging and development were threatening the King County landmark, and Mrs. North's persistence helped establish the Mount Si natural-resources conservation area, which served as a model for other conservation efforts.

"The Codiga children were brought up with quite a work ethic, and anything that Frances felt needed her support and was worthwhile, she'd throw herself full-heartedly into it," said Louise Strander of Tukwila, who will delivery a eulogy at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Snoqualmie.

Mrs. North was a devout Catholic, Strander added, and though she never had any children of her own, she was devoted to her nieces and nephews, some of whom attended John F. Kennedy High School in Burien.

State Rep. Helen Sommers, D-Seattle, who served with Mrs. North, yesterday remembered her "as a good friend and as a hard worker and as a good representative for her district."

Former state Sen. Frank Warnke said that when he served in the House, he sat next to Mrs. North, whom some lawmakers referred to as "Saint Frances."

"She never raised her voice, never got mad, and if someone amended a bill of hers, she would quietly work away to take care of any problems," Warnke said.

He described her as "extremely effective, in a quiet, steady way."

Lund referred to her aunt as the matriarch of the Codiga family and an animal lover. The rumor was that if someone needed a home for a lost dog or cat, they could drop it off at Mrs. North's house and she would find it a good home.

"She also took her dog, Tinkerbell, to Europe with her," Lund recalled, paying full fare for the terrier, which "sat on Frances' lap all the way to Europe. She'd do anything for animals."

Besides travel, animals and gardening, Mrs. North also enjoyed golf. She served on the board of directors of National Bank of Tukwila.

A brother, James Codiga of Seattle, and many nieces and nephews survive Mrs. North. The family suggests remembrances to PAWS in Lynnwood or the King County Humane Society in Bellevue.

Peter Lewis: 206-464-2217 or


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