We would like to share with you some more words in remembrance of Angela Torres Henrick, a beloved mentor and trailblazing member of the interpreter community who passed away last week.
Angela's obituary, which includes a link to her live-streamed service (Monday, 19 September), can be found here.
"I met 'Angelita' in Seattle when we were assigned to interpret together for a trial. The first of many we shared together as a team. She taught me to advocate for my needs as an Interpreter. She helped me to be assertive as a professional and to get acquainted with the way things worked in the King County Courts.
"Outside of the courts, What was fun and remarkable was how she would also guide me through the different restaurants and shops in Seattle, the city she knew so well.
"All you had to do was to ask Angela: where can I find a broach for a dinner gown that is antique and green. And she’d say: I know just the place. And she would!!
"No matter how specific the request, she’d always know where to go. At one point not only me but others were urging her to write a guide book for tourists and newcomers.
"Having Angela come visit me in Skagit was always a treat; she made friends everywhere and when we visited Chiapas with our Spanish Conversation group, she was the one walking in the front of the group. The first one to find music so she could start dancing and the last one to complain about anything that might’ve gone wrong.
"She had an inner joy that was reflected in her 'gusto' for food, travel and the arts.
"I was lucky and blessed to have had her as a friend and more than a friend. A sister, an aunt, a sweet soul to confide in and share fun things with. Angelita, you will be deeply missed!!"
—María de Lourdes Benet
"Angela was a friend and a role model to me. It would be hard to overstate how much she did for our profession, not only here in Washington but nationwide, for Washington was on the forefront of court interpreting and certification back in the 80s, and Angela was a central figure in that effort. I had the honor of serving as WITS president at one point, and I looked to her for guidance, and I knew I had big shoes to fill. A lovely, lovely person. We all really loved her a lot."
"A very important part of Angela's life was devoted to yet another endeavor: court interpreting as a recognized profession.
"In the dismal old times, anybody who said that he or she was able to speak another language, was called to act as an ad-hoc interpreter in courts, hospitals, or any other venue where they had this 'problem': a non-English speaker. And Angela responded to the call, as well as many other bilingual speakers who understood the dire need.
"In 1986 or so, there was a translators and interpreters conference in Vancouver, Canada. A small contingent of friends and colleagues in this 'ad-hoc' category (which included Angela and this writer) from the Seattle area took the opportunity to listen eagerly to professionals at this Conference. During the free times between presentations, these attendees came up with the idea of organizing a group -even a professional association!- to train interpreters, advocate for them, educate the public.
"Upon their return home the meetings continued for well over a year (the main blocking point being the by-laws), and finally the association was born, thanks to The Founding Mothers: Washington State Interpreters and Translators Society, for short, WITS (as John Henrick managed to christen it). Angela was its first president; Susana Sawrey, the VP; the next year, we reversed our roles. WITS offered some training and many opportunities for exchanging ideas. Angela and Susana wore several hats: publishers of the Society’s newsletter for a while, and advocacy, to name a few.
"At about this time, there was a strong push for professionalizing Court Interpreting by means of state sponsored training and certification. This had the support of a Supreme Court judge. WITS was invited to be represented on the board which finally approved what was the first such program in the US: State sponsored training and testing for Certification in Court Interpreting, in Spanish to begin with.
"The first test was offered in 1990, and Angela, of course, was one of the first proud Court Certified Spanish interpreters –as we all must identify ourselves before a judge.
"WITS eventually merged with NOTIS (Northwest Translators and Interpreters Society), which continues the good work.
"Angela interpreted in hundreds of trials and hearings, always supporting her colleagues and keeping in mind the needs of the many litigants in criminal and civil cases, helping them in the only way an interpreter can help: with the best interpretation possible, so that the person can hear everything and be heard in Court, as any English-speaker."
"I was saddened to hear about Angela. The memories came back in waves. I remember her being at all the workshops and events that helped prepare us for the very first test, as well as her dedication to WITS. I fondly remember Angela asking me to serve on the board of directors for WITS, during a lunch break at one of our workshops at the University of Washington. My circumstances didn’t allow me to accept, and she just smiled with the grace that was integral to her 'SER', and something to the effect of 'thank you anyway, Pete, for considering it, and please let us know if you change your mind.'
"We will all miss her very much, especially those of us who were present for our swearing-in ceremony at the Washington State Supreme Court, in front of all 9 justices, on March 7, 1991. She contributed greatly to the pride we all felt as a new profession was born in Washington. Thank you Angela! 'Hasta luego.'"
If you too would like to share a few words about Angela, please add them to the comments or send them via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.