Earl Ellsworth Yates

July 5, 1929January 3, 2019

Earl Ellsworth YATES born in Seattle on July 5th, 1929, passed away January 3rd, 2019. He was 89.

Earl had an infectious smile and laugh, wonderful sense of humor, and natural communication skills. He always acted surprised and excited to see you, even if the visit was planned, as if it were the best part of his day. Earl was always interested in learning from others and making the time to get to know them better. He shared many stories and always took the time to ask questions and listen to other’s stories, as well. His “child-like” curiosity motivated him to learn and improve his entire life and despite his profession as a Lawyer, he was a man who loved working with his hands and trying new things.

Although Earl was born during the difficult times of the great depression, you wouldn’t know this based on the fantastic stories and memories he told of his youth and growing up with two beloved-older brothers, Leslie and Babe. The three of them grew up in the Columbia City area of Seattle, with their single Mother, where they all started working at young ages to help support their family. They deeply cared for each other and had a special bond.

Earl practiced law in the Seattle area for over 40 years, before his retirement. He had an unlikely beginning, dropping out of school at age 15 (He would have graduated from Seattle’s Franklin High School). Well under the age requirements, with the help of his eldest brother Leslie, Earl joined the US Merchant Marines and worked on a supply ship sailing to Okinawa Japan near the end of WWII. Shortly before their ship arrived the war ended. Interestingly, before leaving Okinawa, Earl and Leslie reunited with their brother Babe, who was coincidentally on the island while still serving in the US Air Corp. Someone had a camera and took a photo of this reunion, which Earl kept on his desk. He shared this story often, each time laughing, as though he was still surprised of the coincidence. After returning home, at age 17, Earl joined the Army where he was trained as a Railroad Telegraph Operator at the start of the Korean War.

When finished with his military service, Earl was inspired by his older brothers to finish his High School Education and pursue a law degree. In the mid-1950’s, he married and started a family, while attending the University of Washington Law School. Considered by his classmates as “the old man”, he passed the Washington State Bar in March 1960 at age 30.

Earl began his law career at the Washington State Attorneys General Office, in Olympia. After several years, he moved his family back to Seattle and started his own Law Practice. He and his brother Leslie Yates, who was also a Lawyer, shared an office located on Lake Union. He eventually moved to Mountlake Terrace, where he lived for last 38 years.

Earl enjoyed spending time with family and friends, and maintained many personal hobbies and interests outside of his profession, which he continued through retirement. He enjoyed traveling as well as many other activities and hobbies. Most notable was his love and companionship with his dog (most recently a golden retriever named Bing), good food, cooking and gardening. He was frequently found in his backyard, overlooking his beautiful garden, sipping mocha flavored instant coffee, throwing a ball for Bing.

Earl was married to Patsy Ann Bailey (deceased 1991) from 1955 to 1976, and is survived by their five children (and spouses), Sharon (Jay) Berna, Bradley (Charis) Yates, Charles Yates, Dean Yates and Michael (Debbie) Yates; six grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. He filled his home with photos of his family and always seized opportunities to share how proud he was of his children and grandchildren.

He’ll be remembered and missed as a wonderful friend, father and grandfather.

No funeral or memorial will be held, at his request.


No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.

Earl Ellsworth Yates

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