After weeks of rain and clouds the skies cleared and the freshly snow covered Northwest mountains called Allen Grant Oakley home on February 12, 2018. He died from complications following a heart attack almost a week prior. Family surrounded Allen during that last week and in his final moments. He was 91.
Born in 1926 in Leominster, Massachusetts to Florence and Leonard Oakley, he was the middle of three children. He joined the Navy at seventeen and served in Saipan. With his good grades, the GI bill and ROTC, he attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and earned his Civil Engineering degree. It was in college that he developed his passion for hiking, climbing, and skiing. One summer he and his climbing buddies hitchhiked to Jackson Hole and climbed in the Tetons and worked in a sawmill to support themselves.
Following college he entered the Army Corps of Engineers. While stationed in Washington DC, he went on a blind date to play tennis and two months later he married Harriet Beasley. After leaving the Army, Boeing recruited him and Allen and Harriet drove across the country with their infant daughter, Karen. His career there spanned 34 years of testing aircraft and other structural components to ensure safety. He was well respected by his fellow engineers: "When we have a particularly difficult problem to solve, we give it to Al."
Allen took his children camping and then backpacking, as they grew old enough, eventually taking them climbing on the Northwest peaks and volcanoes. Winters were for skiing, spending every weekend at Snoqualmie Pass where Allen taught skiing. He coached, refereed, umpired, and cheered on his children and grandchildren's sporting interests. Later he was able to join his adult children on their own adventures from climbing in the Cascades to birding in the Aleutian Islands, and flying into Aialik Bay in Kenai Fjords National Park.
Always civic minded and supportive of education, Allen served on the Bellevue School Board for two terms in the 1970s. He regularly volunteered his time, in polling places, at schools, or for golfing tournaments. Allen was a 20-year docent at the Woodland Park Zoo where he loved taking his grandchildren to see the elephants.
Allen retired early to sail the seas on friends' vessels. He sailed up and down both coasts, through the Panama Canal and the Caribbean, and across the Pacific. Harriet joined him for many of these adventures where they had the time of their lives, especially in the Sea of Cortez.
Allen and Harriet raised their family and lived in Bellevue until 2010, when they moved to Merrill Gardens in Kirkland. The family is grateful for the loving care they received there especially from Cindy, Mia, Terri, and Linda.
He is survived by his children Karen (Steve), Lisa (Thede), Randy (Shellie) and Andrew; his grandchildren, Jeffrey (Michelle), Seven, Douglas, Erik, and Lucy; great-grandchildren Micah, Talia, and Miriam; and his sister Mary Anderson, and nieces Christine (Bruce) and Sue. He was preceded in death by his wife Harriet Beasley Oakley and his brother Robert.
Memorial donations may be made to the Audubon Society, the Woodland Park Zoo or The Mountaineers.
A celebration of his life will be held Saturday, April 28, 2018, 2 pm, East Shore Unitarian Church,12700 SE 32nd St., Bellevue.
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Published by The Seattle Times from Feb. 20 to Feb. 21, 2018.