It is with great sadness that Mayor Murray announces the passing of Seattle’s 50th mayor, Paul Schell, who served from 1998-2002. Schell died this morning surrounded by family and friends at Swedish Hospital. He was 76 years old.
Schell will be remembered as one of the great city builders of the Pacific Northwest. As a citizen activist, lawyer, director of community development, port commissioner, dean of architecture and mayor he directly shaped the civic infrastructure of Seattle for more than 40 years.
Schell’s greatest professional accomplishment has been the infrastructure that he built and influenced. The first Libraries for All campaign was a brainchild of Schell’s, establishing and building a new downtown library and rebuilding branches throughout the city. He led the effort to fund Seattle’s first parks levy, rebuild the opera house and was instrumental in building the Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle’s City Hall and Justice Center.
During his time as mayor, Schell helped develop Seattle’s 37 neighborhood plans, laying the foundation for the strong neighborhood system that is seen today. Schell was not only committed to the infrastructure, but also to the people of Seattle. He worked tirelessly to increase service for Seattle’s homeless and immigrant communities, bringing them much-needed services.
“Paul will be greatly missed. He was truly committed to the people of Seattle, working to improve the city both as an elected official and private citizen. He was dedicated to the lives of the people of this city, evidenced by his countless contributions and the legacy he built here,” said Murray.
“Paul fell in love with Seattle when he moved here, as a lot of us then younger people did, then as a civic leader and a mayor he went about making this city even a better place. In a relatively brief time in office, he made a huge and lasting difference in our city,” said former mayor and friend Charlie Royer.
Schell is survived by Pam, his wife of 51 years, and daughter, Jamie. The Schell’s have been patrons of the arts in Seattle and Whidbey Island, supporting institutions like the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts.
Additional information on remembrance services will be provided in the days to come. Schell’s family has asked for privacy during this difficult time. Please address inquiries to the Mayor’s communications office.