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News and Views from the Superintendent
No. 67 September 22, 2005
Gregory J. Nickels, Mayor
Kenneth R. Bounds, Superintendent
A periodic electronic newsletter about Parks and Recreation news, programs, projects and events from Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Ken Bounds
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Jeff Girvin
Jeff Girvin

As the community celebrates the opening of Cal Anderson Park this weekend (noon, Saturday, Sept. 24), I will also be thinking about the life and work of Jeff Girvin, one of the key landscape designers for the park project. Jeff passed away last week after a courageous battle with cancer.

The wonderful improvements at this park, which was part of the original Olmsted design for Seattle parks, is a fitting tribute to the vision and commitment of this special man. Jeff was also the lead designer for the wetlands and ballfields project at Magnuson Park.

But Jeff was much more than a landscape architect. I could say it no better than this moving and loving obituary, written by Jeff's wife, Anne. I offer my condolences to Jeff's family, friends and co-workers. We miss him, too.

"Jeff Girvin lived a life of adventure and style. He saw humor in most situations, which kept life light. At the same time, he could also speak directly to the essence of issues. Born on July 20, 1945, he died September 224, 2005 after living a valiant few years with colon cancer.

"Jeff was one of Seattle's leading landscape architects. He joined the Berger Partnership in 1976 and became one of the firm's principals in 1982. Jeff was the lead designer of an array of highly visible Seattle projects such as the REI Flagship Store and the Seattle University Campus, and helped lead early development of Warren G. Magnuson Park and Cal Anderson Park, which are destined to become open-space legacies. As a principal, Jeff mentored many new landscape architects in the profession. He was wise about knowing people and their capabilities, and he nurtured them to bring out their best. Jeff retired from the Berger Partnership in 2005 to spend more time with his family.

"Jeff was also a strong believer in community service. He loved Seattle and enjoyed working with people in the community to make decisions about Seattle's future. Jeff served the community on several boards: the Seattle Design Commission, the Northeast Design Review Board, Arcade Architecture, Nathan Hale High School performing arts, and Friends of the Conservatory. He was also a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

"Jeff leaves behind his wife Anne, daughter Mara, and son Wilem. Jeff always included his family whenever possible, even on a simple trip to the store. No matter how busy he got with work, he always had time to watch Mara's soccer games on the weekends, proudly cheering from the sidelines. Jeff and Wilem enjoyed doing projects together - any time they could be running a drill or using a saw, they'd be at it together.

"When he was not fully occupied as a dedicated landscape architect, husband, or father he liked to spend his time sailing and gardening. Every summer he and his family would enjoy a relaxing three-week vacation on their boat sailing from Seattle to The Gulf Islands and back. Anne always loved Jeff's sense of adventure. Even though others thought of him as serious and hard-working, he brought a sense of adventure and discovery to everything he did - traveling to Cambodia, visiting nurseries, building projects, taking long bike rides, or sailing around his beloved Northwest.

"Beyond his contributions to the design world, Jeff has shaped countless lives, leaving all those he touched enriched from having known him. We will always remember Jeff with a smile on his face and kindness in his heart, and we will miss his love of conversation, easy laugh and wry sense of humor.

"Jeff's memorial will be at the Daybreak Star Center in Discovery Park, Sept. 29, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m."

I'll be in touch soon.

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