Washington Medal of Merit
|Washington Medal of Merit|
Governor of Washington
|Eligibility||All persons, living or deceased, except elected officials while in office or candidates for an elected office.|
|Awarded for||"exceptionally meritorious conduct in performing outstanding services to the people and state of Washington"|
|Next (lower)||Washington Medal of Valor|
The Washington Medal of Merit is one of three statutory civilian decorations issued by the state of Washington, the others being the Washington Medal of Valor and the Washington Gift of Life Award (formerly the Washington Gift of Life Medal). Washington law does not describe an order of precedence for state decorations, though the Medal of Merit is generally considered the state's highest honor.
All persons, living or dead, except elected officials and current political candidates, are eligible to receive the medal. The medal is bestowed by the Governor of Washington on the advice of the "medal of merit committee," which is composed of the governor himself, as well as the chief justice of the Washington State Supreme Court, the speaker of the Washington State House of Representatives, and the president of the Washington State Senate. The Washington Secretary of State serves as the committee's secretary. The process for nomination is not set by law, but, under current rules adopted by the committee, any person may nominate a qualified candidate through submission of a letter of nomination to the secretary of state who periodically presents received nominations to the committee for consideration.
While there are no residency requirements for the Medal of Merit, all recipients to-date were either born in Washington or lived there at the time of their decoration.
Design and presentation
The Medal of Merit is made from solid bronze. In addition to the recipient's name, the reverse reads "For exceptionally meritorious conduct in performing outstanding services to the people and state of Washington." By custom, the medal is awarded by the Governor to a slate of recipients during a joint session of the Washington State Senate and Washington State House of Representatives convened for that purpose. The authorizing legislation does not specify a frequency for issuing the medal, however, it has generally been awarded with irregularity.
The Washington Medal of Merit was established by an act of the Washington Legislature in 1986 with the first medals presented after the reconvening of the legislature the following year. The medal's past recipients have included three nobel laureates.
- Warren G. Magnuson – United States Senator
- Dorothy Bullitt – owner of KING-TV
- Orville Vogel – agricultural scientist
- Lester R. Sauvage – founder of the Hope Heart Institute
- Edward Carlson – chairman of United Airlines
- William B. Hutchinson – founder of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
- Henry M. Jackson – United States Senator
- Julia Butler Hansen – member of the U.S. House of Representatives
- Belding Hibbard Scribner – founder of Northwest Kidney Centers
- Charles Odegaard – president of the University of Washington
- James Reed Ellis – leader of Forward Thrust
- Francis Penrose Owens – regent of Washington State University
- Kathleen Ross - founder of Heritage University
- Michael Copass – director of emergency medicine at Harborview Medical Center
- E. Donnall Thomas – recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
- Grady Auvil – apple orchardist
- Stanley O. McNaughton – president of PEMCO Insurance
- Jacob Lawrence – artist
- Tom Foley – Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
- Leland H. Hartwell - recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
- Helmut "Brownie" Braunsteiner – veterans' advocate
- Ernest K. Gann – author
- Linda B. Buck - recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
- Dale Chihuly - glass artist
- Bonnie J. Dunbar - astronaut
- Daniel J. Evans - Governor of Washington
- William H. Gates, Sr. - chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- Wilfred Woods - publisher of Wenatchee World
- Emma Smith DeVoe+ - "Mother of Women's Suffrage"
- May Arkwright+ - founder of the Washington Political Equality League
+ awarded posthumously