Remembering Mark Doumit
July 1, 2021
I was deeply saddened last week to learn of the unexpected death of former Cathlamet resident Mark Doumit.
I think my first memory of him was in 1979 or 1980 when I went to the old cannery building in Cathlamet to photograph some gillnetters. Someone was unloading their catch, and Mark, then in high school, and another person were pitching the salmon into a tote so they could be weighed and sent to market.
He started early in public service as a member of the Cathlamet Fire Department, if I remember correctly. After graduation from Wahkiakum High School in 1980, he went to Washington State University to study business and economics. His studies took him to specialized courses in Denmark.
At some point, he returned to Cathlamet and engaged in commercial fishing and farm management. When the opportunity came, he ran for county commissioner, winning the office while still in his 20's.
There are people who go into politics with an eye on enriching themselves. Mark was one of the others: For him, it was just another form of public service. To me, he was one of those people for whom government is supposed to help people and make the world a better place. His business training gave him an outstanding ability to handle budgets, and he was never wasteful with public money. He became a skillful negotiator and was able to find agreements in the most troubled situations.
I got to know him fairly well then. We ended up taking walks after meetings or on other days and discussing all sorts of issues.
After eight years in office, Mark took the plunge and ran for state legislator. He served in the House of Representatives from1992-2002, and when Senator Sid Snyder retired, Mark was appointed to fill that seat. He served on the Senate's budget committee and essentially wrote the budget for state government.
He left the Senate in 2006 to become the executive director of the Washington Forest Products Association and moved his family to the Olympia area.