Bob Gogerty overcame a difficult childhood in Seattle to build a successful career as a political adviser and public-affairs consultant of the first rank. In 1976, after serving as deputy mayor under Mayor Wes Uhlman (b. 1935), Gogerty and fellow Uhlman alumnus Don Stark founded Gogerty & Stark, a public-affairs consultancy that represented some of the region's major corporations while also supporting progressive politicians and policies. Gogerty worked gratis for political candidates who shared his liberal views, his generosity made possible by fees he earned from corporate clients. He had a sure feel for the public mood and a rare instinct for sensing what was possible. Once a problem was defined, Gogerty was a master at figuring out how to resolve it to a client's advantage. Few people knew the workings of state and local politics better than Bob Gogerty, and for nearly 40 years he had a deep, lasting, and largely beneficial influence on the progress of the city and state he loved. He died in his sleep on August 23, 2014, leaving behind, in addition to his family, legions of loyal friends who had long relied on his down-to-earth wisdom and generous spirit.
A Rough Start
Bob Gogerty's father, Roy Emanuel Gogerty (1892-1956), and mother, Frances Virginia (Griffin) Gogerty (1905-1965), were married in Seattle on December 4, 1928. Roy Gogerty, a Montana native, was a railroad worker during the 1930s -- not a bad thing to be during the Great Depression. But his fondness for strong drink caused frequent firings, and the family moved often from one rundown rental to another. Roy Gogerty was an intelligent man but a violent drunk, and he regularly took out his anger on his wife and older sons. In later life he found work as a custodian, and later still he found Alcoholics Anonymous.
The couple's first son, Patrick, was born in September 1929 and was followed by four more boys over the next 11 years: William Francis (1930-2003), Daniel Joseph (1933-2008), Raymond Gerald (1937-1989), and finally, on April 8, 1940, Robert Emmett, always known as Bob. When Bob was born the family lived in a dilapidated neighborhood just a block or so east of what, two years later, would become Yesler Terrace, the city's first low-income housing project.
Virginia Gogerty was often overwhelmed by the family tumult, and she left home frequently, traveling up and down the West Coast by bus, working as an itinerant but popular reader of tarot cards and tea leaves. During her absences the boys often stayed with relatives or were placed in foster care. When she was home, violence could erupt, and at age 16 Patrick Gogerty had seen enough. He punched his father hard enough to put him in the hospital, and he had to leave home. Even so, he helped to raise Bob, assisted by their maternal grandmother and a beloved aunt. But even with that support, Bob's childhood was far from placid. He didn't thrive in school, and in 1956, at the age of 16 and with his mother's consent, he dropped out and joined the Marine Corps, ending his formal education.
Finding Their Way
Patrick had already served his hitch in the military, where he was trained in psychiatric social work and cared for troubled soldiers. When he was discharged he began counseling emotionally disturbed children at Seattle's Ryther Child Center, later moving to a similar position at Luther Burbank School on Mercer Island. When Bob left the Marines in 1958, he went to work alongside his brother at Luther Burbank.
In 1964 the brothers shared an epiphany, but one that would lead them in different directions. Stunned by the legislature's failure to pass a law to help abused children, they realized the importance of political influence. Their career paths soon diverged, but they started on the political trail together, supporting a liberal Democrat, David Warmuth (1932-2006), in his campaign for a seat in the state House of Representatives. Warmuth lost, but it was the first taste of real politics for both Gogertys. Bob, in particular, was hooked.
Patrick would dedicate his life to protecting at-risk children and was appointed director of the Seattle Day Nursery in 1973. In 1985 the facility was renamed Childhaven, and it became a nationwide model for similar programs. He also was an accomplished pollster and earned political capital donating his skills to candidates sympathetic to his cause.
Learning the Ropes
The late 1960s were years of great social change and political ferment, and election results in Seattle and King County in 1967 and 1968 reflected a fundamental shift in the public's mood. Three long-serving incumbents on the Seattle City Council were defeated in 1967, replaced by three progressives, including Sam Smith (1922-1995), the first black member. In February 1968 King County voters approved major portions of Forward Thrust, a costly and multi-faceted bond proposal to finance a range of civic improvements. Measures that passed included funding for the construction of a professional-sports stadium (the Kingdome) and a city aquarium, and $118 million for parks. Other proposals, including one for rapid transit, were defeated.
A new coalition, one that joined progressive causes with support from some of the city's financial and corporate elite, brought the biggest changes seen in local politics in generations. Jim Ellis (b. 1921), a successful Seattle bond lawyer and about as "establishment" as one could find in the city, spearheaded Forward Thrust, and he was largely credited with its success. Bob Gogerty, who was then earning a living driving a UPS truck, worked with Ellis on the measure and was always sure to credit Ellis as his principal civic role model and mentor.
After Forward Thrust, Gogerty started a company called Urban Data Services, Inc., its name evidencing his faith in data as the key to influencing public opinion. But there was a learning curve, and he was at its starting point. One of the company's first contracts was to conduct a poll on a range of issues for Seattle's Model City program, and Gogerty later admitted that the effort had been a failure. One thousand Seattle households were preselected at random to participate, but many refused to cooperate and "wouldn't even answer their doorbells" ("Seattle Model City's Opinion Poll ..."). The concept may have been sound; the execution was less so. Urban Data Services would not long survive, but Bob Gogerty would be around for a long, long time.
On the Inside
By 1969 Gogerty and his first wife, Ellen Peterson, had three young daughters, including twins born in 1967. Now a family man, he needed a better income. His work on Forward Thrust had sparked an interest in transportation issues, and Gogerty went to work as a transportation-management coordinator for Metro. When Wes Uhlman (b. 1935), a progressive Democrat, won the Seattle mayoral race in 1969, Gogerty joined his city-hall team, working on transportation matters for the Department of Community Development. It was a divisive issue, largely because of the huge expenditures of public money needed for any meaningful improvements. When King County voters rejected the rapid-transit proposals of Forward Thrust, Seattle had to turn its attention to other funding possibilities.
In 1971 the state legislature was bogged down on a transit package that was of great importance to the city. State law prohibited the use of public funds for lobbying, so the job of persuading legislators in Olympia often fell to city council members, who had enough to do back home. Mayor Uhlman saw a better way, and in June 1971 he named Bob Gogerty and Hal Meyer (legislative assistant to the city council) to serve as Seattle's advocates in Olympia. It was seen by many as a violation of the lobbying prohibition, but it gave Gogerty valuable experience in persuasion and in the legislative process. With it soon came a new title as Uhlman's "special assistant for intergovernmental affairs" ("Uhlman, Councilmen Named as Authors ... ").
In May 1972 Gogerty was promoted again, becoming deputy mayor. This put him on the front line of several contentious issues and increasingly in the public eye. He chaired Uhlman's re-election campaign in 1973, eking out a very narrow win, but by early 1974 Gogerty had decided to leave public service. When he announced his departure in March of that year, he was already recognized as someone who could get difficult things done. The Seattle Times noted:
"Gogerty gained the reputation of being a tough political operator working under Uhlman. Bureaucratic problems requiring the flexing of mayoral muscle often ended up on his desk" ("Top Aide to Uhlman Resigns Post").
Gogerty went to work in the private sector as a transportation consultant, but within a year Mayor Uhlman needed help. In 1975, disputes with the city firefighters' union and much of the rank and file at City Light had fueled a recall campaign against the mayor that gathered enough signatures to get on the ballot. Gogerty signed on as the Uhlman's "chief nuts-and-bolts strategist" for the battle ("Recall Campaigns Will Accelerate ..."). Although firefighters regularly rank near the top of Americans' "most-admired" lists, Uhlman won by a huge margin, burnishing his own political credentials and adding luster to Gogerty's reputation as an effective political operative.
Two Gogertys and a Stark
When Uhlman decided to run for governor in 1976, he tapped Gogerty to run his campaign. The primary was a close, three-person race, and Dixy Lee Ray (1914-1994) edged out Uhlman and environmentalist Marvin Durning (1929-2013), then went on to defeat Republican John Spellman (1926-2018). With that election over, Gogerty and another Uhlman alum, former city budget director Don Stark, launched Gogerty & Stark. Bob's second wife, Donna Gogerty, was also was a partner in the firm.
In 1977 Gogerty had a brief political fling that illustrated his tendency to value people over political purity. He signed on as "media coordinator and key campaign strategist" for Wayne Larkin (1927-2009), a Seattle city councilmember who had entered the mayoral race ("Larkin Plays the Politics of Plenty"). Larkin was with the Seattle Police Department for 17 years before being elected to the city council in 1969. He was an affable politician, but considerably more conservative than either Uhlman or Gogerty. It seemed an odd coupling, but the simple truth was that Gogerty liked Larkin as a human being, and thought he was a straight shooter whose word could be relied upon. It was an early sign of the ideological openness that would become a Gogerty hallmark. It was also a losing effort; Larkin failed to survive the primary, and television newsman Charles Royer (b. 1939) was elected mayor.
In 1978 Gogerty & Stark's focus shifted dramatically. "Our idea originally was to get into health-care cost-containment strategies for private businesses," Gogerty explained in a 1989 interview. But when Seattle tried to annex land that included areas owned and occupied by some of the county's largest companies, they hired Gogerty & Stark to fight the proposal. That long and ultimately successful campaign changed everything for the firm. Said Gogerty, "We never got back to health-care cost containment" ("Catering to Conservatives ...").
The area in question was a 920-acre portion of the Duwamish Valley in unincorporated King County, home to relatively few people but five large industrial concerns -- Boeing, Paccar, Jorgenson Steel, Isaacson Steel, and Monsanto. Seattle did not deny coveting the added tax revenue that annexation would bring. The industries were quite happy with the status quo, and they hired Gogerty & Stark to try to keep it that way.
It was a tough, uphill fight. Seattle's southern boundary looked like it had been drawn specifically to exclude areas occupied by the companies, which raised suspicions of special treatment. In fact, the original city boundary had followed the course of the Duwamish River, and when the river was straightened the boundary wasn't. This left some of the former riverside property outside of the city limits and some inside, which seemed arbitrary and unfair to annexation supporters.
As he had in the past and would in the future, Gogerty turned to polling, commissioning an independent survey of the few householders living in the affected area. It revealed that nearly 64 percent opposed annexation. This supported a counter-narrative that took the focus off the big companies that were his clients. Gogerty used the results to back up his conclusion that "there is absolutely no support, except from the city, for this thing" ("Duwamish Firms Seek County Help ..."). Unpersuaded, the Seattle City Council voted to back the annexation plan.
The controversy dragged on for more than two years with no resolution, which suited Gogerty & Stark's clients just fine. By 1981 the momentum still favored annexation, but when Republicans took control of the state legislature, Gogerty & Stark turned its attention to Olympia. During that year's legislative session a law, sarcastically dubbed "the Boeing bill," was passed. It gave major property owners the power to block annexations and protect the status quo for 10 years ("G.O.P. About-Faces on Local Control"). The provision was limited to cities with populations greater than 400,000, which meant that it applied to Seattle, and only to Seattle. Democratic State Representative (now U.S. Representative) Jim McDermott, who opposed the measure, complained after its passage, "Where's a 500-pound gorilla sleep? Wherever he wants to" ("Seattle About to Lose ..."). It was not entirely clear whether he was referring to Boeing, or to Bob Gogerty.
A Growing Portfolio
In 1983, Gogerty & Stark was hired by the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce to supervise a comprehensive, statewide, public-opinion poll about the troubled Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS). After it was completed, in what The Seattle Times described as "a moment of candor," Gogerty admitted, "As far as I'm concerned, public-opinion polling is not that scientific" ("Poll on WPPSS Quite Revealing"). This opinion may have been limited to polls that did not support the outcome he sought; polling was to become one of his most favored tools, and Gogerty spent considerable time and effort refining and improving the process, often working with his brother Pat and with another Seattle political consultant, polling whiz, and sometime employee, Wally Toner (1942-2000).
Gogerty's work in the annexation fight drew other lucrative business to the firm. When Seattle City Light rate hikes were being debated in 1984, Gogerty & Stark was hired by several heavy industrial users that felt abused by the rate-setting process. The utility was in turmoil after a series of management turnovers, and Gogerty, who had had his own problems with City Light staff during his time working for Mayor Uhlman, went on the attack: "That utility has more bureaucratic ways of stopping things ... . The utility is out of control. It has had nobody in charge in a real long time" ("City Light Firing ..."). Mayor Royer wanted industrial rates to be raised by as much as 26 percent. When the dust settled two years later, the increases were less than half that, and this was seen as another major victory for Gogerty & Stark.
Republicans by Day, Democrats by Night
The formula that allowed Gogerty to prosper serving conservative businesses while donating his time and expertise to liberal candidates and causes was well established by the late 1980s. Before that decade was out, Gogerty & Stark numbered among its paying clients:
- George Argyros (b. 1937) and Jeff Smulyan (b. 1947), successive and equally unpopular owners of the Seattle Mariners baseball team.
- The Boeing Company and Paccar.
- The Atlantic Richfield (ARCO) Oil Company.
- Developers of the controversial Snoqualmie Ridge housing project in East King County.
- The Weyerhaeuser Corporation, for whom Gogerty & Stark helped settle a labor dispute. The company was also a major participant in the Snoqualmie Ridge project.
- The Downtown Seattle Association, a group of businesses opposed to a citizens ballot initiative that would limit downtown growth. (Despite Gogerty's efforts, a cap on building heights was approved by the voters, but was in effect repealed by subsequent changes to the city's zoning laws.)
- SeaFirst Bank (later absorbed by Bank of America).
- The Urban Group, East Coast investors who had taken ownership of much of the Pike Place Market and had plans to "renovate" it out of existence.
Gogerty & Stark's reputation was starting to spread far from its home territory. In 1989 William Oliver, a vice president at the huge Cleveland conglomerate, TRW Inc., called Gogerty & Stark "A treasure of the Northwest." He added, in a prediction that proved accurate: "They are an example of an organization that really knows their strengths and weaknesses ... and knows how to focus on what they do best. I think they could easily have a national, or even international, influence" ("Catering to Conservatives ...").
Asked how a band of liberals could draw business from the generally conservative business community, Gogerty explained:
"I think if you asked most people around town, if you looked at our firm, it's mostly liberal Democrats. And that actually hurts us because most business people tend to be Republicans. But what we do is really not partisan" ("Catering to Conservatives ...").
It was an unavoidable fact, though, that some of the issues the firm handled certainly seemed partisan, and Gogerty & Stark was not always seen to be working for what their progressive political allies deemed the "right" side. Gogerty claimed to always seek resolutions that were in the public's interest, and although his perception of that interest could be quite expansive and elastic, it was never cynical.
Of more importance to Gogerty was the fact that lucrative work for the corporate world enabled him to give substantial time, money, and free advice to progressive causes and liberal candidates from both political parties, including Democrats Mike Lowry (1939-2017) and Norm Rice (b. 1943) and Republicans Tim Hill (b. 1936) and John Miller (b. 1938). Gogerty's good friends Walt Crowley (1947-2007) and Marie McCaffrey (b. 1951) coined the phrase "Republicans by Day, Democrats by Night" to describe the seeming contradiction, and handed out buttons with that motto at a Gogerty & Stark party ("Catering to Conservatives ...").
Politics Can Be Messy
Sometimes the fit between the business and political worlds was a little too snug for comfort. When Norm Rice defeated Doug Jewett in 1989 to become Seattle's first African American mayor, Gogerty served on his transition team. At the same time, he was working for The Urban Group on its efforts to redevelop the historic Pike Place Market.
Gogerty was representing an unpopular client in an unpopular cause that threatened the destruction of a very popular, in fact beloved, Seattle landmark, and eyebrows were raised. Many longtime Gogerty observers thought he had gone too far. But Gogerty had agreed to represent The Urban Group only because Irwin Treiger (1934-2013), one of the city's most influential attorneys and a fellow member of Rice's transition team, had asked him to, and Treiger was a very hard man to say no to. Gogerty and Treiger both had to withdraw from the Rice team for the market fight. It was a losing battle; the market was saved through a grassroots efforts started by Seattle architect Victor Steinbrueck (1911-1985). It was a loss that Gogerty probably did not lose much sleep over.
Rice's election created another problem of divided loyalty for Gogerty. He had been a longtime supporter of Democratic State Representative George Fleming (b. 1937), but when Fleming announced he was going to run against Rice's interim replacement on the city council, Sue Donaldson, Gogerty took a pass, saying,
"I told him I wasn't now going to get into a fight to unseat a council member who deserves a chance. I'm just not going to be up there (in front of the council) asking Sue Donaldson for something and be working against her on George's campaign'' ("Fleming Lacked Influential Support ... ").
Electing a Governor
Another politician with whom Gogerty had a long alliance was Mike Lowry. From his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives Lowry had twice, in 1983 and 1988, run for the U.S. Senate, losing first to Dan Evans (b. 1925) and then narrowly to Slade Gorton (b. 1928). In 1992 Lowry decided to run for Washington governor, and Bob Gogerty became his primary, if unpaid, campaign consultant.
Lowry could be a challenging candidate for his advisers. He was unphotogenic, rumpled, often too effusive for his own good, and had an unabashedly liberal voting record that would not play well in many parts of the state. But Gogerty managed to draw business leaders and moderate Republicans into Lowry's camp, helping him to defeat the Republican nominee, Ken Eikenberry (b. 1932). Although Lowry carried only nine of Washington's 39 counties, his winning margin was nearly 100,000 votes. To no one's surprise, Gogerty was named head of the Lowry transition team, dubbed the "Citizens Cabinet" ("Lowry Wants Tighter Ethics Rules ...").
Ross Anderson, a political columnist for The Seattle Times, had been tracking Gogerty's activities for quite some time. Following Lowry's election, Anderson wrote a column entitled "Meet The Next Governor's Chief Schmooze." In a generally admiring piece, Anderson perhaps came closest to identifying Gogerty's "secret sauce":
"Gogerty's strength is his ability to move comfortably in a variety of circles, from the boardrooms to the barrooms, serving as an epicenter of information and influence among groups that don't understand each other very well ..." ("Meet The Next Governor's Chief Schmooze").
Another Gogerty favorite, Norm Rice, easily won re-election as Seattle's mayor in 1993. He resisted the temptation to run for the U.S. Senate in 1994, then stumbled in a 1996 run for governor, losing in a crowded primary election to King County Executive Gary Locke (b. 1950), who went on to win the position. Politics is a tough game; even Gogerty couldn't always pull out a win, but he always put up a good fight.
Getting a Stadium
After a long struggle over siting and other issues, the Kingdome was completed in 1976 to house the Seattle Seahawks and, it was hoped, attract other professional sports teams. When Seattle was awarded a professional baseball franchise in 1977, the Kingdome became home to the Seattle Mariners. They would stick it out for the next 22 years in a facility that was barely adequate for football and soccer, and badly ill-suited to baseball.
On June 27, 1995, a group calling itself "Home Town Fans" kicked off a campaign to woo support for an expensive new baseball stadium. Heading the effort were Irwin Treiger and Gogerty, veterans of The Urban Group's bruising, losing battle to redevelop the Pike Place Market. The stadium challenge would be even more daunting, with Seattle, King County, and the state of Washington all having different interests and concerns, most of them revolving around money. Said Gogerty:
"This is not going to be won by baseball fans alone. School levies don't pass because only people who have kids in school vote. We have to look toward the business community and citizens. It's incumbent upon us to reach out. We have to persuade people it is a good investment" ("Stadium Campaign Gets First Pitch").
That would prove difficult. The ballot proposal, engineered largely by Gogerty, would pay for a new stadium in part by increasing the sales tax in King County. Also on the 1995 city ballot was the expensive "Seattle Commons" proposal, which would have created a 61-acre park stretching from South Lake Union to downtown. Looming over all was the repeated threat that the Mariners would leave town unless a new stadium was built. When the voters finally had their say in September, what they had to say was "no," to both the Commons and the stadium, although the latter very nearly passed with a 48.84-percent "yes" vote.
Stadium supporters, Gogerty prominent among them, had a Plan B ready to go, and quickly moved the effort to the legislature. The last absentee ballots were barely tallied before he, Mayor Rice, King County Executive Locke, and Boeing's longtime chief lobbyist, Forrest G. "Bud" Coffey (1927-2013), were boarding a Boeing-owned helicopter, destination Olympia, to ask Governor Lowry to call a special session of the legislature. It helped that the Mariners were in the midst of their first-ever pennant race, an unaccustomed level of success that excited baseball fans across the state. In less than a month, a special session authorized funding for a new stadium (which would be called Safeco Field) from a potpourri of sources, including new food and beverage taxes in King County's restaurants and bars and a ballpark admissions tax.
Many of the principals involved gave much of the credit to Bud Coffey, but The Seattle Times noted:
"The tracks of Seattle's backroom heavyweights are usually easy to follow. Attorney Jim Ellis got Lake Washington cleaned up, the Metro bus system rolling and a state convention center built. Bob Gogerty, who tends to the interests of the state's biggest corporations and liberal Democratic politicians, cut the deals for a new baseball stadium" ("Ruth Woo's Way ...").
During the next year, 1996, Gogerty had some success and some disappointment. He advised several Washington Indian tribes in a highly publicized but losing effort to pass an initiative that would have allowed slot machines in tribal casinos. Mike Lowry decided not to seek a second term as governor after accusations of sexual harassment were lodged against him. Norm Rice lost the gubernatorial primary to Gary Locke and left politics at the end of his second terms as Seattle mayor. On the plus side, voters that year finally approved a rapid-transit proposal after having rejected transportation measures four times dating back to Forward Thrust days. Much of the credit went to Gogerty, who had started his public service working on transportation matters for Metro more than 25 years earlier.
Getting Another Stadium
The mixed record of 1996 may have led some to think that the Gogerty magic was wearing thin, but he would soon prove them wrong. Next up was a collaboration with Seattle's second-wealthiest man, Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen (b. 1953), who was willing to buy the Seahawks if he could get a new stadium of his own. He had the financial horsepower to make a real fight of it, and he tapped Gogerty & Stark to steer the effort.
Allen established an organization called "Football Northwest" and took an option to purchase the Seahawks from the team's unpopular owners, Ken Behring (b. 1928) and Ken Hoffman (b. 1923), wealthy California property developers. The purchase was contingent on the building of a new stadium to replace the aging and inadequate Kingdome. With Gogerty leading the charge, Governor Gary Locke and the state legislature, after weeks of debate, approved a tax package to finance a new $425-million open-air stadium for the Seattle Seahawks, subject to approval by the voters in a referendum. The proposal included a commitment by Allen to spend $50 million of his own money and an additional $50 million raised by season-ticket sales. He also pledged $2 million for the election fight, which eventually grew to $5 million.
Gogerty devised a strategy that he explained in an article in The Seattle Times, which read in part:
"By the time voters decide on Referendum 48, Allen's campaign guru says, the real issue won't be football or economic development or taxes.
"The statewide vote will be a 'referendum on whether people want to do this with Paul Allen,' says Bob Gogerty, chief strategist for the pro-stadium campaign.
"Gogerty says the focus of the campaign will be asking the public if they want to be Paul Allen's 'partner' in the stadium project and in keeping the Seahawks in Seattle. That strategy, he adds, will require 'education, not persuasion'" ("Stadium Vote Has Unusual Twists ...").
The public could have been forgiven for questioning the need to use public funds to build a stadium for one of the world's richest men, but by framing it as a partnership (and with the help of a television appeal starring the notoriously reclusive Allen), Referendum 48 squeaked by, with heavy support from Seattle's suburbs, on June 17, 1997. Allen proceeded with his purchase of the team, the Kingdome was imploded, CenturyLink Field was built, and after years of on-field frustration, by 2015 the Seahawks had appeared in three Superbowls (winning in 2014) and were recognized as one of the premier teams in the National Football League. Without the efforts of Bob Gogerty and his partners, this happy ending may never have come to pass.
A New Century
Bob Gogerty's reputation would only grow as the twenty-first century began. There were further successes, but also some changes and challenges in his personal and professional life. Bob and his second wife, Donna, divorced, and in 2001 he married Sandra Heavey, an attorney and member of an old Seattle political family. Gogerty & Stark became Gogerty, Stark, Marriott and later, just Gogerty Marriott.
The firm's roster of clients grew along with its reputation, and the work included running national campaigns for AT&T. Gogerty was truly playing in the big leagues, and he loved every minute of it. In 2008 he was tapped as a chief adviser to financier T. Boone Pickens (b. 1928) in his efforts to wean America from its reliance on oil in favor of wind power and domestic natural gas. He also represented the family of Amanda Knox, a young Seattle woman charged with murder while attending school in Italy. Some months after Gogerty's death, Italy's highest court found Knox factually innocent.
Gogerty had many admirers and a few detractors, but his extraordinary talents were recognized by all. He was called, with varying degrees of affection but always with admiration, a fixer, a spin-doctor, a miracle worker, and a schmoozer, among other sobriquets. But he had a simple view of his talent, telling one reporter: "The biggest single thing is to be able to listen and hear. Because in our society today it's the most valued thing you can do, to listen to what people are saying" ("Wouldn't You Like to Be a Schmoozer Too ...").
Bob Gogerty, Human Being
You could tell from a block away that Gogerty was Irish. He just looked it, part leprechaun and part pugilist, with a twinkle in his eye and a face that evidenced a fondness for good food and good drink. He loved fine wines and, of course, Irish whisky, so long as it was Jameson.
Bob Gogerty never fell prey to his father's disease, but he had a lot of fun. He regularly, even chronically, held court at Rosellini's Nine-10 restaurant, where the air would become thick with the political gossip he loved. In these gatherings his opinions and advice, on matters professional and personal, was often sought and freely given. Gogerty's professional life speaks for itself, but to his legions of friends he was, above all, just that -- a friend. A loyal, generous, funny, and wise friend.
Rather late in life, Gogerty took up what seemed an unlikely hobby -- amateur car racing. He discovered that when he was guiding a powerful car around a racetrack, all extraneous thoughts in his very busy brain simply disappeared, and his mind became totally clear. He tried to get behind the wheel every chance he could. Many were surprised by his love for automobiles and speed, but perhaps they shouldn't have been. The first time Bob Gogerty's name appeared in the Seattle press was on May 19, 1941:
"Robert Gogerty, 13-month-old son of Mrs. Virginia Gogerty, 163 10th Ave., suffered face cuts and bruises when his kiddy car ran off the porch of his home about 1:45 o'clock yesterday afternoon" ("Youngster Hurt in Fall").
Gogerty's remarkable life ended too soon, on August 23, 2014. He died in his sleep in Rancho Mirage, California, where he and his wife, Sandra Gogerty Heavey, had just signed the paperwork to buy a house. In addition to Sandra, he left behind three daughters -- Kris, Angie, and Carrie -- five grandchildren, one great grandchild, and his oldest brother and earliest supporter, Patrick.
From very humble beginnings, Gogerty built a career of extraordinary influence and achievement, and his passing was marked by friend and foe as a significant and sad event in the life of the city and state that he loved. But he went out a winner, at the top of his game. In author Tom Wolfe's phrase, Bob Gogerty was "a man in full."