Frank E. Inslee, retired biology teacher, high school coach, World War II Naval veteran and father of Gov. Jay Inslee, passed away late Monday night following an illness. He was 88 years old.
Frank Inslee had been transported from his home on Lopez Island to an Anacortes hospital earlier Monday. Mr. Inslee passed away shortly before the governor and his wife, Trudi, arrived to join his brothers and family members at the hospital.
The governor’s official schedule has been cancelled for today.
“My brothers and I loved our father for his boundless dedication to our mother, Adele, his love of salt water and big mountains, and every boating and knot-tying lesson he ever taught us,” the governor said.
“We're proud of what he did as a teacher and coach, too. He was thrilled by taking unranked high school basketball teams into the state tournament. But he was truly proud of having helped his students build confidence and ambition. Today, wherever we go, my brothers and I get to meet those now 60-year olds who tell us tales of how our dad inspired them.”
The governor’s mother passed away in 2007. Adele and Frank had three sons, Jay, Frank, Jr., and Todd. When he died, Frank Sr. had seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren and had been living on Lopez Island for about seven years.
Frank Inslee, Sr., was a fourth-generation Washingtonian who served in the Navy from 1944-1945. He began his career as a teacher in Tenino, Thurston County. He also worked nights at the Olympia Brewery, cleaning fermentation tanks to help pay the bills of a young family.
He later taught biology at Seattle’s Garfield High School, where he also served as assistant basketball coach. When Chief Sealth High School opened in 1957, Mr. Inslee became the school’s head coach for basketball and track.
He later served as athletic director for Seattle Public Schools, where he strongly embraced implementation of federal Title IX to usher in women’s athletics in schools. In 1977 he was named the state’s Athletic Director of the Year.
After retiring from the district, Mr. Inslee sold artificial turf and in later years dedicated himself to caring for his ailing wife.
Frank and Adele were active in the Student Conservation Association, leading student trips to Mount Rainier to do conservation work on trails and wilderness area.
Frank Inslee remained a strong presence in his family with strong bonds to the sixth and seventh generations of Inslees. As one of the governor’s sons said this morning about his grandfather, “I only hope one day I have the opportunity to be as tough as he was.”
Plans are pending for a memorial service.