Samuel Lester "Les" Guinn, Jr.
February 8, 1926 – April 30, 2021
On April 30, 2021, Samuel Lester “Les” Guinn, Jr. passed away peacefully. His story began February 8, 1926 at St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver. As Les tells it, there was no information regarding his birth statistics, but the footprint on his birth certificate indicates he was born pretty normal with five toes and a good arch.
His parents, Samuel Lester Guinn Sr. and Rose Cecilia Solis took Junior home to 665 Columbine Drive. As dementia ravaged his mind during his final years, he couldn’t tell you his birthday, but he would tell you (over and over) he lived at 665 Columbine. His youth was a happy one. An only child, Les often hung out with the neighborhood kids. They played baseball, football, went fishing and engaged in typical shenanigans boys do at that age. A highlight was when he competed in the 1936 and 1937 Soapbox Derby Finals. He placed second both years, losing by a mere 5 yards…. but the disappointment was replaced with glee when he took home a brand-new bicycle. This bike allowed him to explore beyond the streets of Columbine.
Les attended high school at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, NM. In later years he recalled the disciplined regimen proved to be a good thing and the cadets living together became his family. He did well academically and upon graduation achieved the rank of Captain. With WWII continuing to rage, like many NMMI cadets he signed up for military service. In 1944, he entered the Air Force and started pilot training. Fortunately, WWII had taken a turn in favor of The Allies and he never saw combat.
After WWII, he enrolled in the University of Colorado at Boulder. He later said that the GI Bill was the best compensation for his service. As it turned out, these years would chart the trajectory of his life in two significant ways. He was in the inaugural graduating class of the new Management Engineering program receiving degrees in Aeronautical Engineering and Business Management. Second, it was at a pledge event that Les, a Kappa Sigma, would meet an Alpha Chi Omega pledge, Elinor Jane Thomas. He wrote in his memoires “she was a knockout”. That meeting would be the beginning of a 75-year love affair.
With wife and degrees in hand, Les moved to Bellevue, WA where he would have a successful management career at Boeing. Doing what? We’ll never know. He took his security clearance seriously and even in retirement would not divulge the details of his work.
Les was a nerd – before being geeky was cool. He always carried a slide rule and red ballpoint pen in his pocket. He collected stamps, coins, and arrowheads. A model train hobbyist he devoted an entire room in the house to a build an HO scale town. He completed a frame-off restoration of a 1957 Thunderbird, labelling every bolt as he dismantled and restored. He enjoyed the hydros on Lake Washington, the Seahawks, Mariners and though a CU Buffalo alum, he was a Husky Football season ticket holder for nearly 60 years. It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, Les was a sloppy eater, hated doing yard work, and thought intentional walks in baseball were a waste of time – why throw the ball 4 times just put the man on first he would say!
No tribute would be complete without talking about his family. As an only child his greatest joy was the idyllic family life he created. He enjoyed family vacations in the Vista Cruiser, attending dance and music recitals and coaching little league. Summers at the family vacation home on Whidbey Island were a highlight. Years later it was déjà vu. He was an amazing granddad, carpooling grandkids to school, going to recitals and little league games. He would do anything for his family.
In retirement, he spent countless hours documenting his family tree back several generations. As a final gift to us he wrote his memoires and recollections to read upon his departure. In his epilogue he wrote the following entry as to what gives him the most joy: “Family—Foremost. Ellie, Brent, Genevieve and my two grandkids Spencer and Briana. Having them in my life and having their love makes me most fortunate and proud.”
Les was a kind, humble and authentic human being. He was the quintessential gentleman.
Rest peacefully Les/Dad/Granddad, may you enjoy unlimited servings of donuts and mint chocolate chip ice cream in heaven.
Les is survived by his wife of 71 years Elinor, son Brent (Genevieve) and grandchildren Spencer (Haylee) and Briana Guinn. He joins his beloved daughter Terin Guinn in heaven. Due to Covid, services will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his memory to the Terin S. Guinn Fund at The Virginia Mason Foundation, PO Box 1930 Seattle, WA 98111 or online at virginiamasonfoundation.org
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