Saying Farewell to 37 Notable Seattleites

We remember shuttered arts oganizations, retired Seattleites, and big a final adieu to notable frien

It’s been a bit brutal of late for arts organizations around here. The past year has seen the shuttering of several beloved groups, including Giant Magnet children’s festival and the Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra. After 26 seasons, the Seattle Symphony bid farewell to music director Gerard Schwarz and to composer-in-residence Samuel Jones, and Pacific Northwest Ballet said goodbye to eight dancers, including Ariana Lallone and Stacy Lowenberg. But there’s a glimmer of hope in the wake of Intiman Theatre’s apparent implosion; the 2011 season was suddenly shuttered, but a new plan to keep the theater alive is in the works. Keep those fingers crossed.

Gerard Schwarz photographed by Hayley Young


Patches Pals bid adieu to Seattle’s favorite clown, J.P. Patches, who hung up his rubber nose after 53 years. The man behind the makeup, Chris Wedes, has been battling blood cancer since 2007.

2011 closed the book on three beloved local independent bookstores, including Twice Sold Tales’ University District location (the Capitol Hill location persists in cat-filled splendor). Fremont Place Books folded this year after 22 years in the Center of the Universe, and in May, Capitol Hill book nookery Pilot Books was cleared for final takeoff.

Locavores are mourning the loss of Eastlake’s splendid Nettletown, which closed in August. Belltown pioneer Marco’s Supperclub also closed this year [its replacement opened after press time], as did the Totem House in Ballard, which is becoming a Red Mill Burgers. And, after more than 30 years, Madison Park Cafe owner Karen Binder is hanging up her apron.

After 20 years of battling to protect the health of local waterways, Kathy Fletcher stepped down as executive director for the nonprofit she founded, People for Puget Sound.

Matthew Krashan, creator and director of the University of Washington’s World Series at Meany Hall, flamenco-ed off into retirement after 29 years.

One of the “founding fathers” of KEXP, Jon Kertzer, retired in May of this year. Kertzer was hired as station manager of KEXP precursor KCMU back in 1981.

Bankruptcy forced the closure of 7-year-old Columbia City Cinema in May.

After four years, Bellevue’s Open Satellite gallery fell out of orbit.

We bid a final adieu to notable friends

Bagley Wright, 87, influential arts benefactor widely referred to as the “patron saint” of Seattle’s arts and culture scene. Wright founded Seattle Repertory Theatre, helped transform the Seattle Art Museum into a major downtown landmark, served as chairman of the performing arts committee of Century 21, the group that brought the 1962 World’s Fair to Seattle, and was one of the original funders of the Space Needle.

State Senator Scott White, 41, a rising star of the state's democratic party and a transit advocate. White represented Seattle's 46th district.

Pastor Wendell Smith, 60, founded The City Church, one of our area’s largest, with campuses in six neighborhoods and about 6,000 regular attendees.

Brian Fairbrother, 50, beloved barista and general manager of Espresso Vivace.

Scott Simpson, 38, chef and owner of celebrated South Lake Union eatery Lunchbox Laboratory.

Joe McDonnal, 79, chef, caterer and founder of The Ruins, a celebrated private dining club on Lower Queen Anne, known as Seattle’s “best-kept secret.”

Mark Chamberlin, 55, highly regarded veteran Seattle stage actor who appeared in plays with many local companies, including ACT, Seattle Repertory Theatre and Taproot Theatre.

Melissa Hines, 63, a driving force in local arts who served as director of Empty Space Theatre and director of funding for the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.

Stan Keen, 87, longtime musical director for Seattle theaters, including ACT and Seattle Repertory Theatre.

Rick Kaminski, 67, “The Peanut Man,” a beloved fixture at Mariners games since 1977.

Vija Rekevics, 77, founder of Belltown’s iconic boutique Opus 204 and a trailblazer of Seattle’s fashion scene.

Karma Hadjimichalakis, 67, revered University of Washington business, economics and finance lecturer since 1970.

Barry Ackerley, 76, former owner of the Seattle SuperSonics. Ackerley bought the team in 1983 to keep it in Seattle. Under his ownership, the team made 13 playoff appearances and won the 1996 Western Conference championship. He sold the team to an investment group led by Starbucks founder Howard Schultz in 2001.

Bertha Davis, 97, a beloved longtime teacher at Ballard’s old Webster Elementary School and a community activist who worked on fundraisers for the Nordic Heritage Museum, Ballard High School and Ballard Hospital.

Charley Files, 72, owner of several local bars, including The Sloop Tavern in Ballard, home of the “Sloopersize” 33-ounce beer mug.

Ray Ramsey, 87, KOMO-TV weather forecaster and TV icon from 1965 to 1985.

Kim Ricketts, 53, founder of Kim Ricketts Book Events and pioneer of a new breed of author readings. Ricketts staged unconventional events that brought readers together with authors in various settings, such as restaurants, cocktail parties and corporate boardrooms.


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