Politics & Government

Gov. Jay Inslee’s father, Frank Inslee Sr., dies at age 88

Gov. Jay Inslee’s father, Frank E. Inslee Sr., died late Monday of an illness, the governor’s office announced Tuesday.

The 88-year-old former teacher and Navy veteran of World War II was taken to an Anacortes hospital earlier Monday from his Lopez Island home. The governor canceled his official schedule, and plans for a memorial service were pending.

“My brothers and I loved our father for his boundless dedication to our mother, Adele; his love of salt water and big mountains; and every boating and knot-tying lesson he ever taught us,” Inslee said in a news release posted on his website.

“We're proud of what he did as a teacher and coach, too,” the governor added. “He was thrilled by taking unranked high school basketball teams into the state tournament. But he was truly proud of having helped his students build confidence and ambition. Today, wherever we go, my brothers and I get to meet those now-60-year-olds who tell us tales of how our dad inspired them.”

Inslee’s staff described the father as a retired biology teacher and high school coach at Seattle’s Garfield High School and later Chief Sealth High School, athletic director for Seattle Public Schools, a World War II Navy veteran, and father of the governor. In a news release, the governor’s staff described Frank Inslee as a fourth-generation Washingtonian who started his teaching career in Tenino and worked nights at the former Olympia Brewery “cleaning fermentation tanks to help pay the bills of a young family.” The governor’s mother died in 2007.

The educator had an impact on students in his schools, according to Gene Sharratt, executive director of the Washington Student Achievement Council, which coordinates higher education efforts. He was a student at Chief Sealth in the 1960s.

Sharratt said Inslee was “a wonderful guy — door always open. He knew every student on a first-name basis. He was the kind of counselor who was in the halls before school and during the day.”

Sealth was a huge school then, with upward of 2,800 kids, but Inslee seemed to know all their names, Sharratt said. “His office had a long line every day of kids just to say hello to him. He was a real kid magnet. Everyone looked up to him,” he said.

The governor and his wife, Trudi, joined Inslee’s brothers and other relatives at the hospital shortly after his father passed away.