Deceased January 25, 2015

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In Memory

Frank R. "Kitch" Kitchell was born in Battle Creek, Mich., to Francis Robert Kitchell and Jeanette Abbott on July 11, 1918. Frank and his three younger brothers were raised in Newburyport, Mass. All four boys attended Governor Dummer Academy in Byfield, Mass., on scholarships, as they did at Amherst College (Peter '40, Samuel '43 and Webster '53). At Amherst, Frank participated on the swim team and was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity.

He served as a lieutenant commander on a minesweeper in the Pacific Fleet during World War II (1941-45). Following the war, he attended Harvard Law School on the GI Bill, graduating in 1948. Shortly thereafter, Frank and two classmates drove west together. Arriving in Seattle, they found work, married and raised families—their children and grandchildren remaining close friends to this day.

Frank married Virginia Price, a Seattle native, in 1949. He practiced law for many years, as a partner in the Seattle-based law firm of Graham & Dunn. He remained active in the U.S. Naval Reserve, serving in the Korean War. His years with the navy may explain Frank's strong interest and involvement in the Seattle waterfront. He took great satisfaction in serving for 13 years on the Seattle Port Commission (1961-74; president '64 and '69), promoting the growth of the Port of Seattle, Seattle-Tacoma Airport and expanding trade with the Far East.

Frank served as a director of the National Bank of Commerce and Rainier Bancorporation and was a trustee of the Helen Bush School, The Pilchuck Glass School (1972-92; president '76) and the Seattle Artificial Kidney Center. He remained ever-thankful for the excellent education he received at Amherst and was proud to have a son (Robert '77) and three grandchildren (Fraser '07, Virginia Rives '08 and William '13) follow him at the College.

Frank and Virginia were active campers, canoeists and skiers and especially loved spending time on Bainbridge Island with their close community of friends. Frank remained mentally clear as he approached his 97th birthday and passed quietly at home on Jan. 25, 2015, with his wife at his side, his three sons and daughters-in-law present to comfort them both and several grandchildren there regaling him with fond memories and praise. Frank is predeceased by his three brothers and his daughter Sally (1982). He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Virginia; his three sons, Wiley (Marianne), Robert (Carolyn) and James (Carole) all of Seattle; and his 10 grandchildren—Erin (Michael Bolger), Andrew, Fraser, Virginia Rives (Eric Cyzner), Sarah, William, Murphy, Ellie, Angus and Leo.

Bob Kitchell '77

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50th Reunion 

Frank R. Kitchell Having been recruited in the spring of ’39 by Jordan Marsh & Co., I worked for them in Boston until the late fall of ‘40, when I joined the Navy’s V-7 program, went to Annapolis for 90 days, took the summer of 1941 off to work and act with an amateur summer theater at home. (My father said that at age 23, I was the youngest retired man he’d met. Neither he, nor I, imagined the style some of the following generations would set.) Recalled to active duty in September ’41, I served as skipper of three minesweepers in the Atlantic and Pacific, ending up in Japan at war’s end, possibly surviving (along with my small boat brothers, Pete ’40 and Sam ’43) because the Japanese surrender made invasion unnecessary.

Law school followed, and in the fall of ’48, two classmates and I drove an old Ford to seek our fortunes in Seattle.  Seattle has been great – climate, geography, people, lifestyle, civic activity, culture, and family life. Family life was created and lovingly nourished by Seattleite wife, Ginny Price Kitchell, who bore us four children, a daughter, Sally, and three sons, Wiley, Bob, and Jim. Cancer took Sally’s leg at 16, and her life at 32, but she lived and studied abroad for 10 years, wrote two sociological books and some poems, and had a full though short life. Our three sons have all chosen to live in Seattle after returning from Duke, Amherst, business and medical schools, and the University of Puget Sound.

39 Frank R. Kitchell 2.jpg At the present reading we have 4 1/3 grandchildren, from the ages of 7, on down. A 1939 New Dealer shifted, by the elective process, to a non-partisan Port Commissioner, ended up a mainstream Republican. Working for 13 years for $13 (less taxes) to help the Port of Seattle avoid the earlier fate of the Port of Boston, assisted Seattle to realize its potential as a leading world port and in  major way to diversify its economy.

We summer on Bainbridge Island, a commuter’s ferry ride away from Seattle. Ginny and I play good tennis, terrible golf, canoe the end-of-the summer-low-water rivers from the Cascades to Puget Sound. Ginny raises plants and flowers and I raise vegetables in a patch near the water’s edge where I can see Mt. Rainier, the passing boat and ship traffic, and the sea and land birds, almost all of which I have learned to identify. We cruise with friends in the islands and waters of north of Seattle, well into British Columbia. Nothing can beat the out-of-doors, especially in the Pacific Northwest.

At Maui for a month each year, we tennis, swim (“sometimes – with nothing on at all”), garden, read, and hike. Life has its smooth as well as its rough spots.

My hope is to live a well-rounded life and to assist my children and descendants to have the opportunity to do the same, in a free and democratic society.


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