By Tom Crane                                                                                                  (Rita’s Husband of 33 Years)

Born in the Soviet Union in 1960, Rita grew up in a small apartment in Moscow with her parents. She attended an English-language immersion school and then studied English and Philology (the study of languages) at the Moscow Institute of Foreign Languages, graduating with a Masters Degree. To pay for her free education, she was required to work for the state agency for foreign tourists as a guide and interpreter. She would show groups around Moscow and its sights, and then would accompany the group for the rest of the itinerary to other major cities of the former Soviet Union.

Around the same time, I was living in New York City. I wanted to travel and see the world and felt fortunate to be offered a job at a tour company on Long Island that specialized in taking groups of professionals to foreign countries. In June of 1983, I was leading a large group of American nurses to Moscow. One of the two Russian guides assigned to my group was Rita.

We spent two weeks working together. Later that year we ran into each other by chance in St. Petersburg. After spending a drizzly afternoon walking around and talking, somewhat to the surprise of both of us, I asked her to marry me. She said yes. The reality of our decision was not as easy. It took two years to collect all the necessary signed and stamped documents required by both sides. Finally, in 1985 we were married in the ornate Palace of Weddings, followed by a reception in the Metropole Hotel just off Red Square.

Rita by then was teaching English in the Math and Computer Science Department of Moscow University, a job she loved. Another reality check soon followed. She lost her job when her boss found out she was married to an American. But Gorbachev came to power and times started changing, rapidly. Rita found new work translating art books and plays, and interpreting for The New York Times, CBS News and NPR. I worked as an editor. With the communist regime collapsing, there was an avalanche of news. This prompted us to start a daily digest of local news articles translated into English and delivered to foreign correspondents. But after five years, sensing that turbulent times were coming, we decided to move to America. I accepted a job as operations manager with a small tour company in Seattle. In May of 1990 we moved and have never looked back.

During our first summer in Washington State, Rita worked as an interpreter with the Goodwill Games and then started teaching at the Washington Academy of Languages. It was then that she decided to go to law school, ironic for a person coming from a country with lawyers and laws, but no rule of law. She was accepted by the University of Puget Sound School of Law (now Seattle University School of Law). She graduated cum laude in 1994, the same year she became a US citizen. Rita jumped right into practicing law with Bogle & Gates in Seattle, and entered the complex field of appellate law.

On weekends we were exploring this beautiful place we were living in. One of our excursions in early 1990s took us up to San Juan Island. It was love at first sight, and we determined on the spot to someday live here. But, once again the reality was not as easy as the decision. It took us many years to buy a piece of land and build a house. It was finished in 2001. Our daughter was born in 2006.

We then started spending as much time as possible on the Island as Rita’s busy career and our daughter’s school schedule allowed. In 2017 our daughter started middle school at Spring Street International School in Friday Harbor. She is now 12 and is thriving here, spending hours a week on horseback. Rita still commutes to her work in Seattle and I have the happy job of taking care of our daughter, our home and anything I can do to take tasks off Rita’s very-full plate.

My daughter and I are proud of and fully support Rita’s running for the open position on Court of Appeals, Division 1. It is truly the job she was born for.


Rita’s Legal Career

Legal Career Case Highlights Pro Bono Cases