Nena Jolidon Croake. Photo courtesy of The Washington State Archives

Nena Jolidon Croake

First State Representative

“Consideration for women is a measure of the nation’s progress.” - Nena Jolidon Croake

Among the great mysteries surrounding the life of pioneer Nena Jolidon Croake are her true date of birth, her education, and her life outside Washington State.

Born in Illinois in 1865, Croake married Pierce County Deputy Sheriff John Croake on February 4, 1893, in British Columbia. She spent at least 25 years in Pierce County. The suffragist fought for women’s issues alongside iconic figures like Emma Smith DeVoe. Croake served as an Auditor and a Vice President of the Washington Equal Suffrage Association.

Croake was a Progressive and an active campaigner. She made a habit of talking to women about the suffrage movement to stir interest. She even targeted a group she labeled the “stay-at-homes and the sometimes disinterested.” For her, there was no greater cause. In fact, Croake’s mantra became: “Consideration for Women is the Measure of a nation’s progress.”

She’d travel house-to-house and talk to women about child labor, the death penalty, and technical training. After women won the vote in Washington in 1910, Croake pushed for women to hold public office.

“It is only just and fair that (they) should be given a trial,” she declared bluntly. Croake ran for the State House and won in 1912. The lawmaker advocated for pensions for abandoned mothers on the campaign trail, and the creation of women’s minimum wage.

Croake, a force in the field of medicine as a Doctor of Osteopathy, is believed to be one of Tacoma’s first female physicians.

Nena Jolidon Croake left Tacoma and at some point settled in Los Angeles, where she died in 1934.