Remembering longtime Seattle business chief George Duff

George Duff, who helped generate the Washington Condition Convention Middle and Seattle-Tacoma Intercontinental Airport’s third runway and ensured the Seattle Mariners stayed in town, died at his Mercer Island property on New Year’s Day. He was 91.

Initially from Detroit, Duff was president of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce from 1968 to 1995. All through his tenure, Duff affected options that assisted form Seattle’s enterprise environment and connections. And he continued to serve the group right after his retirement by means of his help for nonprofits and an adviser motivation with the chamber.

Existing president and CEO of the chamber, Rachel Smith, claimed Duff was a person of the to start with regional leaders to increase the Seattle metro area’s connections to the relaxation of the place and the earth. He would persuade enterprise leaders to check out the environment “to achieve inspiration and foster relationships to shift our location ahead,” Smith reported.

“George Duff was a chief who remaining his stamp on our region by many years of stewardship and advocacy on behalf of our community,” Smith mentioned.

Duff was humble and targeted on teamwork to get things completed as well as pragmatic, targeted on dilemma-solving even with feasible disagreements, reported Steven Leahy, existing director of government relations at Seattle Schools. Leahy labored with Duff at the chamber from 1979 until 1995, as properly as from 2001 right until 2009, when Leahy was president and CEO there and Duff served as senior adviser.

Big civic assignments Duff worked on, this kind of as the Convention Heart, were being “marathons, not sprints, so you have obtained to have a lot of resilience, endurance, tenacity to continue to keep performing at them,” Leahy reported. 

Amid his superior-profile assignments was the Seattle Mariners. Duff was associated in the negotiations to have Redmond-based mostly Nintendo of The us get the baseball group in 1992. The preceding proprietor experienced strategies to transfer the team to Florida. After scrutiny from Key League Baseball, which opposed to a non-U.S. or Canada group obtaining a U.S. workforce, Nintendo acquired the Mariners for $125 million and sold the workforce for $661 million to First Avenue Leisure in 2016.

Leahy explained Duff was also a mentor to numerous. He would invite early-job specialists to chamber meetings and price their enter when earning choices. One of Duff’s lifelong lessons to Leahy’s career was “consultative leadership,” which implies a leader’s toughness lies in their group, Leahy reported. 

“He experienced a issue on his wall without end [that] I’ll in no way ignore: You are chatting to a parade of individuals who are frequently going ahead, not a team that is standing in a person area,” Leahy stated. He extra that component of Duff’s legacy to Seattle was building the metropolis a vivid, inclusive location.

In a 2010 op-ed revealed in The Seattle Occasions, Duff wrote about how the chamber aided move a $131 million bond issue in 1987 that expanded and upgraded Harborview Health care Centre, which is at this time managed by UW Medicine.

In advance of moving to the Seattle place, Duff served in the Korean War from 1952 when he was drafted right until 1954 when he returned. He later on turned the government vice president of the Detroit Chamber of Commerce. There, he led the organization community’s response to the wake of the 1967 Detroit riot. The riot, led by a law enforcement raid of an unlicensed bar, was the “largest civil disturbance of 20th century The usa,” with 43 fatalities, 1,700 fires and extra than 7,000 arrests, in accordance to the Detroit Historic Culture.

A 12 months later, Duff was recruited to the Seattle chamber.

Just after Duff retired from the Seattle chamber, he and his spouse began a charitable Christian foundation referred to as Joint Heirs Ministry, according to his son Bruce Duff. The basis supported nonprofits these as The Cost-free Wheelchair Mission, which supplies wheelchairs to individuals in creating international locations. Duff also aided nonprofits to learn about organization administration, his son explained.

Duff is survived by his spouse Marilyn, his small children Doreen Duff-Dings, Bruce Duff and Laura Jones, 9 grandchildren, three good-grandchildren, a few nieces and lots of prolonged relatives members.

Bruce Duff claimed his dad was a liable, significant particular person but experienced a sly wit when surrounded by family and shut pals. “In business enterprise, church, absolutely everyone who realized him revered him,” Bruce Duff reported.

In addition to his fast comebacks, George Duff’s granddaughter Dania Duff-Dings stated he was affected person, generous and attentive with his relatives.

“My grandpa remaining driving a legacy — rather pretty much, with anything he did for Seattle — but to us grandkids he was just that: grandpa,” said 33-year-old Duff-Dings.

Information Viber