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Thirty Years of Advocacy

By Mike Andrew 

Readers who keep an eye on details might have noticed that with this January issue, we’ve made the transition to Volume XXX of the Retiree Advocate.

That means that the Advocate has been around for 30 years. That’s a remarkable achievement for any independent publication, but even more remarkable for one like the Advocate that relies solely on subscriptions and doesn’t accept advertising of any kind.

We owe our success primarily to you, our readers, who have supported us for 30 years. But we also need to acknowledge two outstanding working class journalists who guided the Advocate through its formative years and shaped it into the publication we know today.

Max Roffman (1910-2003) edited the Advocate even before it was the Advocate. He came to Seattle in 1984 from Hawaii, where he’d spent 21 years organizing the United Public Workers Union (UPW), and another 10 working for the Center for Labor Education and Research at the University of Hawaii.

Max also produced the “Rice and Roses” labor program on Hawaiian public television from 1975 to 1981.

When he came to Seattle, Max became a leader of the Puget Sound Council of Senior Citizens (PSCSC), and was the first editor of Senior News – the predecessor of the Retiree Advocate.

It was the middle of the Reagan years, and there was plenty to write about, although the basic issues were the same as the ones we tackle today – preserving and strengthening social security, guaranteeing health care for all Americans, ensuring that workers got a bigger share of the wealth we create.

In 1994, Max retired as editor, although he continued to write for the publication, and Will Parry (1920-2013) took on his editorial responsibilities.

Will had been a writer for The New World and People’s World, until 1956, when the McCarthy persecutions deprived him of his ability to make a living as a journalist. Will then went to work for a box-making company and became a leader of Western Pulp and Paper Workers (AWPPW) Local 817.

Will went on to edit the AFT-WA newsletter, and when he retired, became involved in the PSCSC and Senior News. He became editor in 1994. In those days, the publication was only a four-pager that came out every other month, and was written mainly by Max and Will.

In 1998, the Senior News became a monthly and expanded to six pages.

The National Council of Senior Citizens was relaunched as the Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA) in 2001, and Senior News became the Retiree Advocate in 2002.

Will retired as editor in February 2013, and died the following May 13, having seen the Advocate through a period of sustained growth.

The Advocate as it exists today is a tribute to Will’s leadership. When he retired, I told him that if I followed his example I’d work on the publication for the next 30 years – by which time I thought I’d be pretty good at it.

The Advocate hasn’t come this far without the constant support of our readers. Many of you have written for the publication, and all of you have generously given time and money to keep us in print.

If we want to continue publishing for another 30 years – and why not! – we still need your help. Please renew your subscriptions if they’re due to expire. You can also give a subscription to a friend or neighbor, and help expand the circle of readers that’s been growing for the past 30 years.


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