Leonard Alson Sawyer
May 18, 1925 – Aug 19, 2015
-LEONARD ALSON SAWYER
May 18, 1925 – August 19, 2015
“I have had a great life!!!
Leonard Sawyer passed away quietly at his home in Seattle with his loving wife Dawne at his side. Born and raised in Puyallup, WA, Len often said he had the perfect childhood thanks to his exceptional supportive parents Alson and Velma Sawyer. He forever thought of Puyallup as home no matter where he lived.
Len was predeceased by his parents, sister Myrtice and his twin daughters Connie and Carrie.
He was survived by his wife, Dawne Friesen Sawyer. He was also survived by five children from his first marriage: Colleen Shields, Cindy Schuur, Carla Opheim, Clark Sawyer, Craig Sawyer and eight grandchildren. Kevin, Katy and McKenzie Shields, Willi & Andee Schuur, Hannah Sawyer (Craig) and Adriana Opheim.
Leonard attended Puyallup public schools through high school. He was always active in sports. In high school he was on the varsity basketball team recognized as a special player by his coach and others. He never worried about his small size as he was very fast and highly motivated. Len was also a neighborhood organizer for sports teams and other activities. He carried those organizational skills throughout his life.
He graduated in 1943 during WWII, and joined the U.S. Navy. He entered the Navy’s V-12 program at the University of Washington. He couldn’t totally leave sports behind. He played basketball at the U.W. and was on the boxing team becoming Welter Weight champion. He was fortunate to attend several other highly rated colleges such as Cornell. As Ensign Leonard Sawyer, he served primarily in China.
Upon return to Puyallup, Len attended the College of Puget Sound in Tacoma on a basketball scholarship, and was high scorer on a championship team. He graduated with a degree in Economics. Len was always grateful for the G.I. bill which enabled him to complete college and law school. He received his law degree from the University of Washington.
Leonard practiced law in Pierce County for over 50 years, first as Deputy Prosecutor for Pierce County practicing criminal law, then in private practice. He and three partners were responsible for development of several large successful land development projects including Lake Tapps in Pierce County and Lake Cushman in Mason County. He organized state banks in Port Orchard, Hoodsport and Seattle and had a large personal injury practice.
Leonard was elected State Representative from the 25th legislative district at age 29, then the youngest legislator ever elected in Washington. He served 22 years in the Legislature, twice elected Speaker of the House. As Speaker, Leonard was the primary force in designing and implementing legislative reforms in Washington State based on making increased and more accurate information available to legislators to make more informed decisions and make information more available to the public. The program was nationally recognized.
In retirement, Len and Dawne enjoyed golf and great weather during winter months in Palm Desert for the past ten years.
Anyone who knew Len knew he was never boring or bored. He was always planning for the next project. He was creative, determined and enjoyed the process. He was clearly one-of-a- kind and loved life.
“A reception in honor of Leonard Sawyer will be held on Wednesday, September 9, 2015, from 2:00 - 4:00pm at Toscano’s Italian Grill at 437- 29th St. NE, in Puyallup, WA. Website for directions: Toscano’spuyallup.com. Donations may be made to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, Tacoma.
This obituary is provided by Bonney-Watson, providing caring and compassionate funeral, cremation and cemetery services since 1868. We have a professional staff, four funeral homes, two cremation facilities and one of the largest cemeteries south of Seattle, as well as a comprehensive grief support program.