In Your Midst


July 2004

The 60th anniversary of the D-Day landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944 drew heavy media coverage and at least two members of the St. James family. Jay and Betty Sullivan spent the anniversary week there. Jay well remembers the Allied Expeditionary Force landing. He was 18 years old and attached to the 50th General Hospital out of Seattle, organized and commanded by his uncle, a Seattle physician, Dr. H.T. Buckner. Dr. Buckner had been asked by the US Army to organize a general hospital from Seattle. Dr. Buckner recruited from Seattle University, Providence Hospital (where he was a staff physician), and the Nursing Schools at Swedish, Seattle General, Virginia Mason and Maynard.

Jay Sullivan at 18, as a young soldier, and today.

The 50th was set up to provide 500 beds and shipped out of Seattle in 1943 for England. The initial base was in Scotland where they received the first wounded from D-Day. The 50th was then ordered to operate a beachhead tent hospital. They were able to land in mid-July at Utah Beach. The 50th stayed close to the landing forces for some time before moving inland to Carentan, where they stayed until October 1945.

By then the Army had more soldiers than positions and were trying to relocate them. Jay was sent to attend a college in England but this position ended as his mother became gravely ill. He came home on compassionate leave and was soon discharged. By winter quarter he was back at the University of Washington studying to be a pharmacist.

Jay graduated from the UW and in 1948 joined the Army Reserve as an officer. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1989. He has been back to Normandy several times. The area around Utah Beach contains monuments, abandoned tanks, and pillboxes—all vivid reminders of D-Day.

Jay became a parishioner at St. James in the 1950s and he and Betty were married in the Chapel in 1971. Over the years, Jay has served on the parish council, and is currently an usher at the 12 o’clock Sunday Mass. Betty and Jay are also on the breakfast team for the Winter Shelter.


Mary Murphy Ragen first fell in love with sales as a sixth grader in a Girl Scout troop in St. Paul, Minnesota. The satisfaction of being the top seller of Girl Scout cookies was joy indeed!

Mary Ragen manages the bookstore with the help of granddaughter Sara.

Mary became a primary school teacher on moving to Seattle after college. It was on a blind date that she met her future husband, Pat, a young intern at Harborview Hospital. Mary taught school until their daughter and three sons were born. As the children grew up, she finally returned to sales, spending 15 years selling real estate. By the end of that time, the Ragens had become St. James parishioners.

In 1995, following the renovation of the Cathedral, the Bookstore had been moved from the South Tower to its present location, but it wasn’t flourishing. Father Ryan had known the Ragens before they joined St. James, and knew that Mary had helped a friend who ran a church bookstore. He asked Mary for some advice on how to improve the Cathedral Bookstore. Soon, Mary was the bookstore manager and buyer! She organized friends and parishioners and formed a team of volunteers to operate the bookstore daily and after Sunday Masses.

Mary, with the help of recommendations from Cathedral staff, soon had the bookstore stocked with books and more books on spiritual subjects. She added a wonderful selection of medals and crucifixes, rosaries and gift items, children’s books and coloring books. And of course, there are the exclusive St. James items: a wide selection of CDs from Cathedral choirs and resident ensembles; postcards and notecards, and the Cathedral book, House of God, Gate of Heaven.

Every week Mary reviews the sales from the previous week, finding out what people liked the most and what items didn’t sell well. In addition, she’s constantly on the lookout for new and interesting books and pores over book reviews and catalogs.

Mary is known to enlist help from all quarters, family not excepted! When granddaughter Sara Ragen comes Thursday afternoons for Schola Cantorum choir practice, Mary gets her help arranging books, counting rosaries, or putting price stickers on various items. Like her grandmother, Sara loves helping with sales. Mary also calls on husband Pat to help out sometimes if they run short of volunteers, even though Pat would rather being playing golf. Mary and Pat also volunteered together on the Centennial Campaign.

Joan McDonell is a St. James parishioner and member of the Development Committee.

Link to other articles in the July 2004 issue

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