I just learned that this past Friday, Washington State Senator Scott White suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 41. I am terribly sorry to hear the news. I didn’t know him well, but what little I knew, I liked very much. He really didn’t seem like a politician to me—there was nothing about him that came across as even remotely artificial—he just seemed like a regular guy who wanted to do what he could to make a positive difference.
I met Senator White at the end of 2009, when he was still a House Representative and I was asked to photograph him for an article about legislation he was proposing. It was a bill that would make crimes against the homeless qualify as “bias-motivated attacks”, or hate crimes. I photographed him under an I-5 overpass in Seattle, at the site of a homeless man’s murder that inspired his work on the issue. It was a typical wet day. I remember apologizing for asking him to stand in mud for the shoot, but he couldn’t have been happier to do it and he was glad to give me all the time I needed. It was his nature to smile, I think—I asked him to keep a serious expression due to the nature of the bill highlighted in the article, but I could tell he found it difficult.
Since then, we bumped into each other several times at community functions. The first time was quite a while after we shot together, and I didn’t even expect him to remember me, much less take the time to talk with me (there were plenty of people there more important than I). But he came over and struck up a conversation, asked how things were, and told me that the article was up in his office, along with my photograph. I asked him about the fate of the bill, and congratulated him on its passage. I remember feeling glad that he was in Olympia, and it saddens me to think we’ve lost him.