Montana Democrats' Statement on the Passing of Dorothy Eck

Helena – Today, Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Nancy Keenan released the following statement on the passing of Dorothy Eck:

"Dorothy Eck fought the good fight until the very end. She proudly embraced being labeled a liberal.  We mourn Dorothy’s passing but celebrate the incalculable contribution she made to our Montana. Universally admired and respected, she led a substantive life lived to it’s fullest. As her former officemate US Senator Jon Tester said, 'she truly was a pioneer.'"  

Dorothy was one of those rare individuals whose intellect and actions had a profound and lasting impact on political history of Montana.

Born and raised in Bremerton, WA, Dorothy married naval architect Hugo Eck of Anaconda during WWII.  After the war Hugo became a professor of architecture at MSU.

With a keen interest in public policy, Eck cut her political teeth in the male-dominated world of Montana politics as president and lobbyist for the Montana League of Women voters in the 1960s.

She was elected as a delegate to the 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention, where she is justifiably credited with being one of the most influential members of that body.  As former US Senator and Ambassador to China Max Baucus, at that time a staffer to the convention said, “She was one of the engines driving the train.”  She was particularly instrumental in drafting the public’s “right to know” language as well as the constitutional provision acknowledging the unique cultural heritage of American Indians and requiring the educational preservation of their heritage.  Nearly 3 decades later, the requirement of Article X, Sec. 1 (2) was finally achieved by the passage of the “Indian Education for All” act.

Eck served as a mentor for many other women striving to break through the glass ceiling of good-old boy politics, including the late state senators Mignon Waterman and Sue Bartlett.  She also convinced a 23-year-old recent college graduate – Dorothy Bradley – to run for the Montana House of Representatives.  Elected in 1971, Bradley was the only woman serving in the House that session.

Dorothy spent 20 years in the Montana Senate until her retirement in 2000.  During those 2 decades she remained an outspoken supporter of women’s rights, LGBTQ issues, public education and the environment.  

Dorothy passed away on September 23 at the age of 93 in Bozeman.


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