Blood Drive Honors Former Mayor Rivas

By Michael Wagar Nisqually Valley News
Posted 6/27/14

Former Yelm Mayor Adam Rivas died of complications from leukemia last summer on June 19. At his memorial service in the Performing Arts Center at Yelm High School, family friend Kathy Crandall …

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Blood Drive Honors Former Mayor Rivas


Former Yelm Mayor Adam Rivas died of complications from leukemia last summer on June 19. At his memorial service in the Performing Arts Center at Yelm High School, family friend Kathy Crandall listened to the testimonials to the popular mayor.

“I just thought he should not be forgotten,” Crandall said. “I decided to promise Gail (Rivas’ wife) to start an annual blood drive in her husband’s name.

This Saturday that promise becomes fulfilled. Crandall has organized a blood drive from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Prairie Hotel conference room.

“Being a Christian, Mr. Rivas practiced what Jesus taught us — unconditional love for everybody and not to judge. Everybody was important to him,” Crandall, the housekeeping supervisor at the Prairie Hotel, said. “I’m not sure where the idea for a blood drive came from, but I thought it was fitting as Mr. Rivas needed a lot of blood during his illness.”

Crandall, however, had never organized a blood drive. Fate intervened.

“I didn’t’ know where to start. Who do I call, where do I go?” she said. “One night, I’m at Safeway getting gas, and I look up and there’s a mobile blood unit having a drive in the parking lot. And since I don’t believe there are ever any coincidences, I went over and got some information.  That was the beginning of what I hope will become an annual event that Yelm truly embraces.”

Crandall said giving blood, particularly at the start of the summer season when the need increases, really does save lives. For every person who donates blood, three peoples’ lives continue, Crandall said.

Taylor Rivas is Adam’s son. He deeply understands the value of giving blood.

“My father relied on people’s donations for blood almost every day,” Taylor said.

Dominic Rivas is Adam’s other son. He said until his father fell sick, and required donated blood nearly every day, he hadn’t pondered the impact of a blood donation.

“Our family was extremely grateful to the faceless individuals who took the time out of their lives to help somebody continue to live theirs,” he said. “When I donate blood on June 28th it will be to help a person who is in need as well as give hope to the family members who just want the best for their loved ones.”

Wife Gail experienced the life-giving benefits of donating blood during her husband’s illness.

“Every time the nurse hung the bags I was so thankful to the person who unselfishly took time from their busy life to find a blood donor station and give their blood,” she said. “The blood meant life and with the blood, Adam had a chance to beat this illness. Thank you to everyone that has given blood, you will never know how many lives you saved. All of us have busy lives and I urge you to take a few minutes out of your day on June 28th and give blood. You never know whose life is dependent on this single bag you donate.”  

Adding depth to the Saturday blood drive honoring Adam, in the same building that same day, the family is hosting a baby shower for Adam and Gail’s first grandchild due in August.

“We thought this was a perfect fit, our new baby coming while honoring her grandpa that she will never meet,” Gail said.

Adam was a popular man who served on many city boards including the planning commission and city councils of Yelm. Rivas was mayor from 2001-05. He was also active on countywide boards such as the Thurston County Economic Development Council.

During his tenure, Yelm was undergoing a time of growth and development. He oversaw obtaining $33 million for Phase 1 of the Yelm Loop and shepherded the completion of the traffic corridor Yelm Mini-Loop. During his term he worked on the expansion of the progressive water reclamation facility along with improvements to the city’s water system.

Before Adam died, he gathered his family together. Up until the last eight hours Adam was joking, concerned about others and completely of sound mind, Gail said. He passed away peacefully.

“Life goes on,” Adam told them. “You guys have to continue. That’s what I would want for you guys.”

For those who give blood on Saturday, the act will help many lives to go on. Crandall hopes it goes on for a long time.


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