|Death: ||Oct. 16, 1996|
Calmar McCune, `Mayor' Of U District -- He Helped Develop Thriving Community
There was never an election and the title was pure fiction, but few could argue that Calmar M. "Cal" McCune hadn't earned the nickname of "mayor" of the University District (Seattle, WA).
The longtime Seattle attorney, who died Wednesday (Oct. 16, 1996) after heart surgery at the age of 85, is credited with helping develop the U District into a volatile but thriving community. Mr. McCune led efforts in the 1960s and early 1970s to improve relations among merchants and students and young "street people" who flocked to the U District. He helped found a youth hostel and led a failed campaign to transform University Way Northeast into a pedestrian mall.
Founder of the law firm McCune Godfrey & Emerick, Mr. McCune was a past president of University District Chamber of Commerce, and belonged to the Development Council and Rotary Club. He also served on the Seattle Planning Commission and Housing Advisory Board, and was an early leader in promoting low-income housing and urban-renewal projects in Seattle's Central Area. University of Washington Professor Emeritus Dean Worcester praised Mr. McCune's longtime concern about low-income housing and homeless people: "He was so interested in down-and-out people because he had been there himself."
Born in Polk, Neb., Mr. McCune began college at the University of Nebraska, then with his ex-banker father took odd jobs to keep the family together in the Depression. Mr. McCune moved to Seattle, where he finished his law degree in 1935 at the University of Washington. Two years earlier, he had married his childhood sweetheart, Margaret Ann "Peg" Griffiths.
He paid his way through school by washing dishes at the old Wiseman's Cafe. Friends remember Mr. McCune as a man of will and energy. His vision seemed unlimited; his talents, the same. His autobiographical book, "From Romance to Riot," published earlier this year, speaks for his times, particularly the '60s - the U District's Golden Age. It was the age of flower children and "peace and love," but also of riots by people protesting the Vietnam War and the business and political establishment.
He had his adversaries in the student-left of the '60s, according to Walt Crowley, who edited "The Helix" alternative newspaper. He represented the merchants, the legal profession, the "haves." But despite their differences, Mr. McCune tried to improve relations between businesses and street people. Crowley called Mr. McCune "a forceful but never mean-spirited advocate for his point of view."
Mr. McCune's grandson, Phil McCune, who became an attorney partly because of his grandfather's example, said, "What made Grandpa special was his ability to exude warmth and kindness, despite a rough and at times gruff exterior." Marie McCaffray, who designed Mr. McCune's book, said he had tried a case at the U.S. Supreme Court, but had taken "heat" for arguing too aggressively. A niece of one of the justices reportedly told Mr. McCune that her uncle never had anyone oppose him that way before.
Mr. McCune learned to fly at age 57, and often flew his Cessna to Mexico, the Bahamas and Canada.
Mr. McCune is survived by his wife of 63 years, Peg McCune, and his daughter, Leslie Grace, both of Seattle; his son, Calmar A. McCune of Port Townsend; and two other grandchildren.
Services will be at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Meany Tower Hotel, 4507 Brooklyn Ave. N.E. Remembrances may go to University District Rotary Club Service Fund, 4131 11th Ave. N.E., Seattle, WA 98105.
By Carole Beers, Seattle Times Staff Reporter
Margaret Ann Griffiths McCune (1909 - 2008)
Washington Memorial Park
Created by: Charlotte Hubbard Rehpoh...
Record added: Jan 24, 2013
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