Louis Henry Pepper
Jul 21, 1924 – Dec 23, 2016
Louis Henry Pepper passed peacefully on December 23, 2016 following a brief illness. Born near Libertyville, IL on July 21, 1924 to Louis and Dora Sievers Pepper, Lou was their youngest child and only boy. While his three older sisters would say they adored “the prince”, he said they teased him mercilessly, then he would smile with the memories.
Lou grew up on farms in several small towns in southern Wisconsin. He spent most of his youth outdoors skiing, skating, hunting, and exploring and passed on this love of the outdoors to his children and grandchildren.
He was a pilot in World War II spending three years as an Army Air Corps First Lieutenant in the Pacific Theater. After the war, he took full advantage of the GI Bill at University of Wisconsin, Madison and earned his undergraduate and law degrees in 5 years. Setting off on a post college adventure, he landed in Seattle in 1951, met Mollie and settled in for a long, wonderful life of “successful compromise”. Family life was full of skiing, tennis, car trips to wherever and lots of laughter and fun.
He joined the Law firm of Tanner Garvin and Ashley in 1951, known today as Foster Pepper. Washington Mutual Savings Bank was his major client leading him to become a national expert in mutual savings bank law. His expertise made him the logical candidate to lead Washington Mutual through the banking challenges of the early 80s thus he became President and CEO in 1981. He would say some of his major successes at the bank were hiring very intelligent woman in leadership roles, establishing corporate values, the first being “every human interaction should be dignified and courteous” and establishing a culture where business excellence and human kindness succeeded together.
Lou served as a director on many boards and organizations including the Museum of History and Industry, Museum of Flight, Washington Roundtable, Federal Home Loan Bank, Nature Conservancy, and the Seattle Alliance for Education. He especially enjoyed serving as a Regent for Washington State University. He belonged to the Seattle Tennis Club, the University Club, the Rainier Club, Seattle Rotary, Anglo-American Real Property Institute and the American Bar Association.
After retiring as Chairman and CEO in 1991, he remained on the board until 1997. He and Mollie retired to LaConner, Washington where they happily ensconced themselves in Skagit Valley life. They supported Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland, local artists and, of course, gardened to their hearts content. Lou had quite the orchard of apples, plums and pears (often on one tree – he loved grafting on fruit trees) and loved delivering them to anyone and everyone who wanted home grown fruit.
After Mollie passed in January of 2014, Lou began to spend more time at Skyline in Seattle where he enjoyed the company of many very interesting people. He was truly enjoying life there and was looking forward to 2017, but the angels had a different plan. Accepting he was about to embark on his next adventure, he was smart, kind and funny to the end.
He was predeceased by his wife Mollie Venables Pepper, and his parents and sisters. He is survived by his children Lou Pepper (Ruth Williamson), Margy Pepper (Dan Roth), Betsy (Chris) Larson, Willie (Yori) Milo, “adopted” son Jamie Reagan as well as his grandchildren Mollie Pepper (Kee Hinkley), Kady (Margot) Shumway, Pepper (Keith) Tompkins, August Eschbach, Lucie Pepper and Jack Pepper and many beloved nieces and nephews. He wanted to give special thanks to the community at Skyline for making life so enjoyable, and most particularly his neighbors Ann, Norma and Max for their wonderful and cherished friendship.
A celebration of his life will be held at 11am, January 17, 2017 at St. Joseph’s Church, 732 18th Ave E, Seattle followed by a reception at The Sunset Club, 1021 University St, Seattle. Remembrances, if desired, may be made to the Museum of History and Industry, Attn: Development Office, PO Box 80816, Seattle, WA 98107 https://3365.blackbaudhosting.com/3365/Museum-Operations-Annual-Fund---Individual ; Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland, PO Box 2405, Mount Vernon, WA 98273 http://www.skagitonians.org/make-a-donation/ or Museum of Flight, 9404 E Marginal Way S, Seattle, WA 98108 https://www.museumofflight.org/Giving/donate or an organization special to you.
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