George Arthur Kumpf

October 12, 1918October 22, 2013

George Arthur Kumpf, a native son of old Seattle, died Oct. 22, 2013 at Evergreen Health Hospice Center in Kirkland, WA. He had just celebrated his 95th birthday. The only son of George Washington Kumpf and Della Dorthea Paulina Hacker, George was born Oct. 12, 1918 at Swedish Hospital during the deadly 1918 flu pandemic.

He grew up in South Seattle on the western edge of Beacon Hill in a small home built by his grandfather which was demolished to make way for the I-5 freeway.

George attended South Seattle Elementary School and graduated from Cleveland High School in 1936. He enrolled at the University of Washington, graduating in June 1941 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Business.

While attending UW, George was a member of the University Symphony (string bass) and the Husky Marching Band (tuba). As a freshman, George got the chance to travel by train to Pasadena for the 1937 Rose Bowl where he marched in the Rose Parade and performed during halftime. Sixty years later, about 20 members of that band, including George, were honored at a halftime ceremony at Husky Stadium. George was a member of Seattle Musicians Local 76 for over 30 years where he played in Jackie Souders’ World’s Fair Band, the 1962 Ringling Bros. Circus Band and the Musicians Local 76 Band in parades and park concerts from 1950-1968. In 1951, George substituted for the regular tuba player in the Seattle Symphony for the Standard Symphony Hour and proudly stated that conductor Dr. Stanley Chappelle noted afterwards “excellent tuba!”

With World War II looming, George enlisted in the Navy and on Dec. 8, 1941 began active duty. He served assignments on the U.S. west coast, Russell Island and China, concluding active duty in April 1946. George continued in the Navy Reserve until 1968, retiring as a Lieut. Cmdr.

Returning to Seattle after active duty, George landed a job with the Ford Motor Company in purchasing and accounting at their parts distribution center. He was a member of the Purchasing Agents Association of Washington and retired after 30 years of service to Ford on November 1, 1976.

Preferring to stay on Beacon Hill, George built a home on the eastern edge in the Lockmore neighborhood. In April 1953, George moved into the home with his bride, Elizabeth Easson Stewart. An avid gardener, in retirement George took advantage of a neighbor’s offer to let him use four adjoining empty lots behind his home to grow berries and vegetables which were some of the best produce in Seattle! Peach trees graced the front yard, a pumpkin patch for the grandkids and canning and jam making were yearly events.

George began moonlighting as an usher at the Seattle Center during the World’s Fair in 1962. At the conclusion of the fair he continued ushering including a stint as head usher at the Opera House. The Seattle Times’ Pacific NW Magazine did a profile on George -- the 90-year-old usher -- in December 2008. He retired after 49 years of service in 2011 and was honored with a plaque at the entrance to the usher’s room in McCaw Hall.

George is predeceased by his parents; his sisters Barbara Louise (infant) and Marjorie Rose; and his wife of 48-years Elizabeth. He is survived by daughters Elizabeth (Doug) Pizac and Marjorie (Gary) Atkins; grandchildren Geoffrey (Jenna) Atkins, Douglas Pizac, Kelsey Pizac and Daniel Atkins; and niece Barbara Long.

Graveside services with military honors will be held at Acacia Memorial Park, 14951 Bothell Way NE, Seattle, WA 98155, on Saturday, Nov. 2 at 3:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in George’s memory to:

University of Washington Husky Marching Band Graves Building P.O. Box 354070, 3910 Montlake Blvd, Seattle, Washington 98195-4070


  • Military Honors Graveside Committal Service Saturday, November 2, 2013

George Arthur Kumpf

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November 2, 2013

I first met George at the Opera House--I had season tickets to the Ballet for many years. Then in 2003 when I moved to the Chateau @Bothell Landing--we met in the hallway--and realized where we had met before. I was privileged to call him a friend and was able to spend time at his 90th birthday party here at the Chateau.
We talked often and I will miss him. Ms. Jerry Rutherford

Carlene Cole-Embree

October 31, 2013

Betty and Marjorie:

You two have written a lovely obituary that captures the essence of your father.

I remember George discussing many things with my father. But most clearly I remember the motto, "buy low, sell high". From my early teen and teen years it seemed the conversation was always about the stock market with those two. I learned more than a little about the stock market by listening to their conversations, much more than I realized at the time.

George seemed to me to be a ball of emergy ready to tackle any task and help whenever he could. When my father was so ill during my high school years, George was the person who helped by mowing my parent's enormous lawn.

I remember loving to listen to him play the organ at your home, and having dinner with your family. Also I remember George playing in the Seafair Band during the late 1950's.

I will remember your father with kindness and joy, knowing he touched many lives so positively. To have lived 95 years and done so many things like the gardens, his music his ushering, his military involvenment, having a good marriage, and raising two wonderful children really are great accomplishments.

Death and grieving are never easy tasks, and the convoluted road is long. Try to take care of yourselves. I am sure George left the estate in good shape for you two to handle.

Please know your dad did the best he could, the very best, and that he loved you two, your mother and his grandchildren with all his heart. George was so very proud of his family.

I am so sorry for your loss.

Carlene Cole-Embree

Phyllis Cole

October 31, 2013

Hello Betty and Marjorie:

I read your father's story with a real sense of connection with you. After all, I met him and your mother before they were even married! I must have been all of five or six years old at the time, and I still remember them having dinner with us at my parent's table in West Seattle.

I also remembered many times in which our family visited your family at the home you grew up in. There was always conversation, laughter, dessert, and most of all, music! I even remember playing my violin for your parents, while still just a kid.

Even after I married and moved away from Seattle, I would often see your folks when I came back in town. I loved the intense berry garden, and even remember George mailing me strawberry starter plans when I lived in Salt Lake City in the 1980's.

So you see, our history with your family goes back a very long ways.

We have not seen each other much over the years, and the last time was at your mother's funeral. I would hope to see you both again sometime when I visit Carlene in Seattle. Betty, are you still in Utah?

I know you both must be having many conflicting emotions now. The grief of your loss is endless, but so is the joy of having had such an amazing dad. Please take care of yourselves as you wade through the estate process. But if I know your dad, he left things in pretty good shape for you, just to take care of his girls who he loved so dearly,

With condolences,

Joanie Komura

October 31, 2013

Betty: I'm so sorry to hear of the passing of your father. It was a wonderful tribute to your father - I totally forgot of all of his ushering at the Seattle Center. May the warm memories of him comfort you and your family during this time.