Former Seattle Mayor Paul Schell Dies

Jul 28, 2014

Former Seattle Mayor Paul Schell, who led the city during the World Trade Organization protests in 1999, has died. He was 76.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says Schell died Sunday morning.

Schell served one term as mayor from 1998 to 2002 before losing a re-election bid to Greg Nickels.

Murray says Schell left a mark on Seattle as one of the city's "builders." Under Schell, Seattle approved funding to build the renowned downtown library branch. He also led efforts for the first parks levy and played a key role in constructing the Olympic Sculpture Park and the City Hall.

Schell was mayor when the tumultuous World Trade Organization protests paralyzed downtown Seattle. The city's response was heavily criticized and led to the resignation of the police chief.

But he’s also known for promoting the first parks levy and championing the building of a new downtown library. Back in the 1970s, long before he became mayor, Schell headed Seattle’s Department of Community Development. It was there that he helped launch a lot of things we now take for granted, such as setting aside 1 percent of building projects for art.

One of his his projects was hiring artists to design manhole covers.

“We were looking for ways then to embellish the details," Schell told KPLU in 2012. "I mean, if we just do the basics and don’t do the things that make you smile, then we’ve lost it. It speaks to our spirit, our soul.”

Schell said he believed it was paying attention to the little things, like manhole covers, that could really make a city sing. Schell died at Swedish Hospital Sunday morning. He is survived by Pam, his wife of 51 years, and his daughter, Jamie.