Longtime community advocate Pamela Toelle was posthumously recognized for her decades of service to the city at the Nov. 5 Bellevue City Council meeting.
The council gave her an official commendation to commemorate her work in the city since the 1960s. Her husband Alan Toelle and daughters Liz Bohlin and Mary Worley accepted the commendation from the Bellevue city council on Monday night. She was 80 years old when she died in September.
“Pam was a fixture in this city — she was a fixture in terms of her involvement with Bellevue city government,” Bellevue Mayor John Chelminiak said.
Pam and Alan Toelle moved to Bellevue in 1963 in the Chevy Chase neighborhood. Since moving to Bellevue, she had been active in a variety of key city elements throughout the years, from parks to traffic to schools.
One of her notable achievements was playing a key role in the creation of Bellevue’s Crossroads Park. Worley said she was door-belling in an apartment complex for former Bellevue Mayor Nan Campbell when she saw kids playing in an empty lot across the street. She felt so bad for them not having a park to play in that she got involved in trying to turn that space into a community park.
At the time, Worley said, Safeway was interested in developing that property, but Toelle’s work to put it to use as a park paid off.
“Ultimately she helped to be a liaison between the parks department, the owner of Crossroads, and the city, the developers — they did a land swap and now we have this park,” Worley said.
Toelle was also one of the founders of Congregations for Kids, a volunteer community group dedicated to providing children from low income families get school supplies like backpacks, books, pencils, and more.
Alan also said he and his wife had worked to prevent Stevenson Elementary School and Highland Junior High School from being closed in the early 1980s by developing full financial reports on the operations of the schools after the school board received incorrect information on their finances.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Toelle was involved in traffic issues throughout the city. She served on the city’s transportation committee until 1991, where she was influential in implementing level-of-service policies for roads impacted by proposed new developments. She also dedicated work to making sure 148th Avenue traffic flowed well and was an important arterial for the city.
In addition to being dedicated to community service, she was also dedicated to her family and led by example. She was an active member of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church. Her daughters took the lessons they learned from their mother and passed them on to their own children, they said.
“What I took from Pam’s example was that if you have issues with the way things are done, you should put your energy and talent toward helping to be part of the solution,” Bohlin said. “This is very different from ‘fighting the system’ or ‘sticking it to The Man.’ It is also different from passively complaining about what you believe is wrong without ever doing anything to fix it.”
“Mary and I saw this approach modeled by Pam and have taken that forward in the way we have approached our adult lives — in everything from schools, to coaching, to neighborhood and city concerns,” she added. “Pam always heavily researched the issues and candidates of the day, and she often supported favored candidates with direct, hands-on action. It’s very sad that she is not able to participate in the election today. However, while Pam was concerned with issues affecting national/international politics, her direct approach usually started with those immediately around her and in her own sphere of influence. That is, her neighborhood, city, and state. That organic, local approach really worked, and that is what I have found very special and tried to emulate going forward.”