Royal T. HAWLEY June 21, 1914 ~ February 19, 2012 Royal Hawley is pictured above in one of his versions of "heaven on earth"- salmon fishing with his wife Ellie. Their boat "Outta Gear" was purchased in celebra tion of retiring from his 44 year career with Western Gear Corpo ration. Royal went to work for Western Gear in Seattle shortly after grad uating in mechanical engineering from Washington State Universi ty in 1936, and ended his career as technical adviser in 1979. A local landmark of his work is the design and installation of the 1.5 hp motor which revolves the res taurant at the Space Needle. He also contributed to the design of the Slo Mo Shun hydroplane engines in their glory days of rac ing in Seattle. More globally, Royal was instrumental in the laying of a transatlantic tele phone cable, designed the steer ing gear for the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier, and in the early days of his career was charged with producing, in a hurry, essen tial components for the LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank) which land ed in Normandy in 1944. Although he never talked about it, there are at least ten inventions related to laying cable credited to him at the U.S. patent office. Royal was an accomplished professional but more importantly a devoted hus band and father. Rock solid, bril liant, predictable, dependable, faithful are words that describe his character - he could be count ed on to earnestly address all matters of problems, preferably mechanical, structural, or finan cial. If he failed to fix something it would not be for lack of trying. Royal-known as Jim to family members-grew up on a farm in Bellingham that raised chickens and eight children. As a college student, he met his future wife, Eleanor Hahner, when employed as "summer help" at her family's wheat farm in eastern Washing ton, one of the many jobs he worked to put himself through college. He served as the chauf feur for the president of Washing ton State College, Ernest Hol land, and that job provided him with many amusing stories given the proclivities of automobiles to break down in those days. In ret rospect, the only stories Royal shared were the funny ones, and considering the fact that he was a child of the depression who lost his father when he was just nine years old, his life was not without adversity. But we knew him only as content, full of energy and curiosity, and always ready to have fun. Fun included hunting deer in the fall with his brothers and nephews, salmon fishing, playing golf, and skiing from childhood to the ripe old age of 87. Fun also involved participating in community - he was on the char ter board of the Mercer Island Beach Club, served on the church council of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on Mercer Island, and was a commissioner for Mercer Island Water District. After mov ing to Mukilteo in 1963 he was a commissioner for the Olympus Terrace Sewer District for more than 25 years. More than anything, Royal Hawley should be remembered for his optimism. No matter what the circumstances, tomorrow would be better. The skies might be filled with dark clouds but he was convinced that by the time we arrived in the mountains the ski conditions would be excellent. And there would be a run of salmon around the next point. His glass was always half full. Royal was proceeded in death by his seven older siblings - Irving, Myron, Catherine, Josephine, Marjory, Donald, and Elizabeth - and Ellie, his wife of 67 years, as well as a son Gerald who died in fancy in 1942. He is survived by daughters Barbara Hawley Saario of Sammamish, and Gretchen Hawley of Bothell, and grandchildren Kelsey Saario, and Sam, Sara, and Caitlin Finley, and countless nieces and neph ews. Family memorial gather ings will be held this summer.
Published in The Seattle Times on May 6, 2012