Former Seattle Mayor Paul Schell dies

by: Natasha Chen Updated:

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SEATTLE - Mayor Ed Murray's office has announced that former Seattle Mayor Paul Schell has died. He was 76.

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

Murray said 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, rebuilt the opera house, and played a key role in constructing the Olympic Sculpture Park and the City Hall.

The Downtown Seattle Association’s statement said in part: “As a developer, his Watermark Tower project was among the first Downtown residential high-rises, encouraging urban living and setting in motion major residential growth in the coming decades that our city benefits from today.”

“He said this was the best job in the world. And obviously, he had many, many different careers. He said you have to enjoy it, and you can't be too worried about the downs, and about losing,” Murray said.

Schell was sometimes criticized for his handling of the WTO protests in 1999 and the Mardi Gras riots in 2001 that left one man dead in Pioneer Square.

“Regrettably, Mayor Schell had to live through WTO, and I think we've learned that we have to train our police better, have the skills that they need. And we're still working on that. We're still not done,” Murray said.

Schell’s friend and former mayoral opponent, Charlie Royer, said “It was a perfect storm that Paul got caught in, and I don't think he was well-served by his police advisors.”

Royer said that Schell set a tremendous example of civic participation and will be remembered for being an “idea guy."

Some may have even said Schell tried to do too much with too little time.

But Royer said in the end, his accomplishments speak for themselves.

“They'll look at his life, and they'll have to admit, that looks pretty good,” Royer said.

Schell is survived by Pam, his wife of 51 years, and his daughter, Jamie.