Noreen Skagen’s skills are now being used elsewhere

Aug 31, 2017

It is with sorrow and many other emotions (one of those being pride) that I acknowledge the death of Noreen Skagen at the age of 87.

Noreen was the daughter of two Italian immigrant parents and I can only guess her parents would have been very proud to have been around to know their daughter had not only become one of out finest Mill Creek community leaders, but above this she became a national leader as well.

Throughout my life one of my many pleasures was when I met this internationally known trailblazer and I did so when we both served on the Mill Creek City’s Police Advisory Board.

I was always enthusiastically focused on her when she talked about her police career, but was also awed by her continuous stories around the years, yes years, when she was a Miss USA contestant judge!

Noreen constantly impressed me with not only her pageant yarns, but also how this mover and shaker entertained a lot of us with her many unique stories. But it was Noreen’s overall demeanor; her openness; her listening skills and her desire to get things done as well as her willingness to mentor and her other kindnesses which were the qualities I greatly admired and ones I someday hoped to emulate.

In 1959 Noreen entered onto the world stage of almost an all blue uniformed male fraternity of police work. Thus, she became a pioneer for, and without knowing it, a mentor to both women and young girls. Then as she blazed on through her chosen profession, Noreen’s field of influence expanded.

She became a subject of discussion not only by many Law and Justice professors, but business and women studies professors also started teaching their student’s about Noreen’s managerial and leadership skills.

Nor was this woman’s talents overlooked by her police superiors. This was proven when Noreen was eventually appointed as the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) first female assistant police chief.

As the SPD’s Assistant Chief, she accomplished even more and these achievements eventually came to the attention of President Ronald Reagan. This President became so impressed with Noreen that in 1988 he nominated, and the US Senate confirmed, Skagen to become our Western Washington’s first female U.S. Marshal.

When our own city of Mill Creek needed an interim police chief, our city’s leaders naturally had their eyes only on our beloved Noreen Skagen.

To learn more about this law enforcement woman I encourage you to read Adam Eisenberg’s profile of this trailblazer in his book: A Different Shade of Blue: How Women Changed The Face of Police Work.

Noreen Skagen is a part of my psyche and my deepest respect and admiration will always be with Noreen. At the same time, I will always have the greatest admiration towards her husband, ex-Marine and a retired SPD deputy assistant chief, Roy Skagen. Roy’s heartfelt devotion was always something that shined towards his beloved wife and closest friend.

Thank you too Roy for the continues delight you have given me due to those many occasions I watched you and your closest friend, Noreen, publically show your devotion to each other.

The radiation I received from each of you was there in your best of times, but even more noteworthy it was there during Noreen’s physically challenging times.

Your multi-color, or opal, twosome was a partnership for all seasons. It was a loving one for me to smile at and to use as my map on how I can nurture the partnership I enjoy with my own wife.

Darn right, I humbly submit to our city councilperson that we should have a Wall or Hall of Fame devoted to our residents who have made it into to not only our city’s history books but also into our country’s memories. Noreen Skagen should be one of the first to be elected into that growing pantheon of our city’s memorable women and men.

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