Dale Lee Cowles
August 23, 1945 – April 7, 2021
Dale Lee Cowles. Husband. Father. Brother. Friend. Incessant eater of peanuts.
On April 7, 2021, at 3:32 PM, Dale moved on peacefully, surrounded by family. A champion of hard work, a believer in truth, and a man of Christ — he was as kind and stubborn to his last as he was throughout his best. Praying with family and insisting on taking care of himself every step of the way, he told jokes with a wink of the eye, even as he lay on his hospital bed.
Dale was the grandson of a dirt farmer and the son of a sharecropper. He saw his father, with just an eighth-grade education, become a small business owner. And in his own time, Dale became the first in his family to graduate from college. Albeit with a 1.9 GPA, this was much appreciated by his children. Every suspect report card they received was met with the reminder that they’d done better than he had.
Next to God and his family, Dale loved his country with all his heart. He served in the U.S. Navy during his younger years. Initially assigned to the dignified position of a Navy mechanic, he was quickly reminded that he’d inherited none of his father’s mechanical fortitude. Not to be deterred from being helpful, Dale created his own position: Chief Educational Petty Officer. He sold his superior on the idea by promising he’d get the man featured in the Navy’s Stars & Stripes magazine. A promise which he dutifully fulfilled.
Born and raised in Iowa, Dale came to Seattle with little more than a suitcase, a few hundred dollars, and a job offer. He eventually went on to build one of the most well-respected employee benefits divisions in the region at Kibble & Prentice (KPI). Founder of CHARM school (Client Helpfulness And Relationships Methods), Dale developed a culture at KPI that lives on to this day. It’s one where integrity rules, kindness abounds, and life-long relationships are fostered.
A mentor and a friend, Dale wasn’t afraid to pull any punches with constructive criticism. Luckily for us all, he believed in doing so behind closed doors. And as private as he was with his feedback, he was equally as boisterous with his praise. He used everything from Cowles Crowns (small stickers given for exemplary acts) to kazoos at company meetings and baseball practices to honor and bolster a community focused on success.
Dale taught those around him to recognize and celebrate achievements. He practiced the act of smiling with your eyes, being sure to raise your cheekbones and focus on eye contact. And he was always quick to remind you about the universal truth of people — that we all have a tattoo on our forehead that says “Make Me Feel Important.”
Dale’s driving was as legendary as his depth perception. A 59 MPH left lane warrior, he could frequently be spotted shaking his head at those whizzing by on the right while belting out Bible hymns and listening to self-development seminars. And his singing voice was dare we say, memorable. If not for its volume, definitely for its inability to stay on key.
A baseball enthusiast, his family regularly lamented that if Dale could pick a second religion it would undoubtedly be found on the diamond. A truth which his son Casey carries on today.
As a young Navy man, Dale began his martial arts training. It proved to be a wise athletic pursuit. For while his fleetness of feet gave quicksand a run for its money, his catlike reflexes were capable of stopping a 100 MPH fastball to the face. And while his wicked precision earned him a second degree blackbelt in karate, be not confused. A gentleman and a teddy bear he held within. After all, he met the love of his life over sheets and underwear — kindly accepting her admonishment of how he treated his fitted sheet. (Sheets are meant to be folded and not stuffed into pillowcases, should you too need a Mary Rae lesson.)
Dale was the kind of man who couldn’t refrain from helping people, whether they wanted it or not. And because he could always see so much potential, there was so much advice to give. It’s a legacy that lives on through his daughter Sabrina, though she’s built upon his ‘helpfulness’ and keeps her guidance relegated to her counseling clients.
A shocking romantic, Dale was known to invite Mary Rae onto the deck for a spectacular sunset or particularly large full moon. He believed in pulling out a lady’s chair, opening her door, and sending his wife love notes (some of which were for her eyes only). And let us all not forget about Dale’s handwritten blurbs. He kept a collection of witty cowboy cards that he used for any and all occasions. His passion for the written word is carried on by his daughter Mikaela, who wholeheartedly embraces his belief that words have power.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Rae; his children, Sabrina Hickel (Doug), Casey Cowles, and Mikaela Judd (Garrett); his grandchildren, Meghan Hickel, Riley Hickel, Ryan Hickel, and Penellope Judd; his brother Doyle Cowles (Lori); and all of the amazing men and women he mentored.
A man of faith, he was confident in where he was going. (Daddy, we’re so grateful we’ll be able to join you again one day.) He believed God called him to create great environments where great people could build success. That’s what he did over the years, working closely with Junior Achievement, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center of Seattle University, Seattle Urban Academy, and CHRISTSA, where he served as Chairman of the Board, amongst other roles.
A small, family-only graveside service will be held on April 17. Once larger gatherings are allowed, a memorial will be held. If you would like notice of the memorial, please email: email@example.com.
Dale Cowles served on the Board of CRISTA Ministries. He had a passion for education and supporting children, and was a huge supporter of CRISTA Camps.
In lieu of flowers or a gift, please consider a donation to CRISTA Camps in his memory. You can do so by sending a check to CRISTA Camps at 19303 Fremont Avenue N. Seattle, WA 98133, or online at cristacamps.com/give/.
A private family service will be held on April 17th at 11am at Masonic Memorial Park in Tumwater, Washington.
- CRISTA Camps
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Dale Lee Cowles
April 24, 2021
Dale was a true class act that was someone that I looked up to. He had this ability to ensure we were doing the right thing for our mutual customers and always start from that perspective. He was firm, but kind and had a sense of humor. I always try to go through life like he did and it’s a true blessing that I had the opportunity to get to know him. Thoughts and prayers to the whole family during this time of transition.
April 15, 2021
On this day 25 years ago, I started my tenure at my first corporate job. I had the good fortune of joining a top notch team, led by none other than Dale Cowles. He didn't let me call him Mr. Cowles, only and simply "Dale." Being so young and immature, I didn't realize the gold mine I had hit until many years later, when I had other experiences to compare against.
I was 100% horrified at making a presentation with no presentation skills--to be video taped and later viewed *together*--on the topic he awarded me, "How to Give a Great Presentation." Only a man who has a passion for teaching--and a solid sense of humor--could do that. Based on his guidance and that of the colleagues who he also taught, 25 years later I still prepare in the same way: I rehearse rehearse rehearse in order to hone the talk tracks, a tactic to help with "jumping from one track to another" when a question interrupts flow; I practice raising my cheekbones, which I didn't know was a thing until I met Dale; and, I've figured out how to smile with my eyes (also, didn't know it was a thing). Now, I find myself still in the industry (despite best attempts to withdraw), trying my best to mentor others in the way he did me, with compassion, with honesty, with integrity, and with humor.
On the occasion of his 40th anniversary, he called me with questions about Greece, a stop on the tour he and Mary Rae were to take. Imagine my delight and his wonder when I said: "I'll be happy to show you around!" Even over the phone, I could sense his face dropping. "Eleni. Now *what* are you doing? Do you not have a job again?!" Sure didn't! And real happy about it. "Special" doesn't capture the evening we spent together, which I also enjoyed with my mom and a favorite auntie.
Mr. C, your spirit will not, cannot, die, because it's infused in everyone you touched. Thank you for your friendship, and of course for your lasting example.
With love to all who grieve, Eleni
April 13, 2021
Dale always had time to stop and share a smile and few nice words. Those memories will be cherished by so many.
April 12, 2021
I’ll miss Dale and all the sociopolitical discussions we could, and should, have had. We approached each other with caution when we first met, he perceiving me as a West Coast hyper-liberal and I thinking of him as an overly-conservative Iowan. Maybe age and experience mellowed us as our conversations began to meet halfway, but I think the cause was mostly Dale’s honesty and desire to build bridges. He did indeed observe the old-fashioned ( but still charming) custom of standing for a woman entering his company; if he entered my presence right now, I’d gladly stand up out of respect for HIM. He was a thoughtful, attentive, devoted husband and father, a committed and principled professional and a man whose faith imbued his whole existence with integrity. His wife—my dear friend Mary Rae—and Sabrina, Casey and Mikaela will continue to manifest Dales strength and principles in all they do. The world is a better place because of all of them.
April 12, 2021
I was blessed to work with Dale for +25 years. Even more blessed to have such a good friend. Dale taught many of us the values of hard work, honesty and generosity not only in our business lives but in our personal lives as well. He was a great teacher and mentor who improved the lives of those he came in contact. His memory and lessons about life will remain with us.
Our prayers of comfort & love go to Mary Rae, Sabrina, Casey & Mikaela.
Rex & Sandi Lund
Mysti and Marty Andrews
April 12, 2021
Marty and I are so very blessed to have worked with Dale and to call him our friend. He is an awesome man of God and I know that today, he walks in paradise. Our hearts go out to Mary Rae and family. We lift you up before our Heavenly Father, asking that He ease your sorrow. We will miss Dale but look forward to being reunited in Heaven.
Jan & Bob Canavan
April 10, 2021
Our lives were enriched when we met Dale and Mary Rae. You both have touched us with your friendship. We send all the Family our love and prayers. Our hearts are hurting.
April 10, 2021
It was an honor to work with Dale at KPI over 30 years ago. I remember him as a man with great integrity. Wishing his family comfort from all the fond memories of the former KPI associates.