New totem pole honors long-time Ronald Wastewater accountant, Northwest Hospital, and cancer patients

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The base figure represents Cindy James, complete with dimples
Photo by Steven H. Robinson

A magnificent, new totem pole at Northwest Hospital was created to honor Cindy James, an accountant, who was a long-time staff member at Ronald Wastewater District in Shoreline.

Cindy battled cancer at UW Northwest and died in the fall of 2016 at the age of 52.

One day James, whose forceful personality was legend, took aside her favorite nurse and blurted: “You guys ought to get rid of that ugly totem pole.” (Referring to a 40 year old pole that stood at the entrance to the hospital).
“She said, ‘You should make a new one to honor all the cancer patients who have come through this hospital. And I know who could do the work: my brother-in-law.’

Her brother-in-law, David Boxley, is world-renowned for his dance group and his artwork. He is an elite carver whose totem poles sell for over $100,000. This pole was financed with donations and done as a labor of love for a beloved family member.

In her stylized depiction on the pole, Boxley has left James, a local accountant, standing in immortality securely but tenderly clutching the shoulders of her grandson, Dominic, 7, “the light of her life, from the day he was born.”
Boxley placed his relative — a longtime dear friend, fellow tribal dancer and enthusiastic warrior in the battle to preserve the threatened north coast tribal culture of the Tsimshian, Haida and Tlingit — at the pole’s base because she was a bedrock for her people.

Ron Judd did a wonderful feature article on Boxley and this work of art in The Seattle Times' Pacific Magazine. Read it here.

The artist did a brief interview which was posted online.

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