Carol Shinnick Keaton
Feb 6, 1942 – Jul 20, 2017
Carol “Kingdome” Keaton
Carol lived the life she dreamed of as a little girl. A few years ago, she described her life this way – “I had many wonderful and remarkable things ‘happen’ to me during my lifetime…. I am grateful and want to count my blessings.” Carol’s birth came on February 6, 1942, in the midst of World War II and in the month following her maternal grandmother’s unexpected death. Her mother stayed with her grandfather in Spokane after the funeral, and therefore Carol was born there.
Carol moved to Burien at a young age, and her mother enrolled her into the Betty Clements Dance School. At the age of three, she was able to transfer her energy to the world of ballet, tap and hula. She performed at recitals and for veterans returning from World War II. She was four years old when she had her first performance, a ballet number to “Alice Blue Gown.”
At the age of five, her parents moved their budding young family to a house just off the top of Dravus Hill in the Magnolia district of Seattle. She attended St. Margaret’s for elementary school until a new Catholic school (Our Lady of Fatima) was built in a valley on the other side of the Dravus Hill. Dravus was a big hill that she climbed up and down many times over the next 19 years. Carol and her friends especially liked to sled on the hill when it was closed due to snow. On hot days, they could stop at the top for a rest and have a drink of water from Mrs. Mandeville, whose house they described as an oasis.
When the family moved to Magnolia, Carol’s mother enrolled her in the Cornish School for Ballet, not to mention private hula lessons, ice skating lessons, swim lessons, and judo lessons. She described all of these activities as a “kid’s heaven.”
At the age of 11, she also began taking baton twirling, ballet and swim lessons at the Washington Athletic Club, and little did she know at the time that she would go on to achieve great accomplishments with her baton. As a freshman at Holy Names, she won the Washington State Strutting Championship, which was a baton-twirling event. She won the contest and made the papers.
After her freshman year, her parents allowed her to transfer to Queen Anne High School, which turned out to be what she describes as “the happiest time of my life, bar none. What a great and wonderful experience. Encouraging teachers, a wonderful school, nice friends, boys (wow), and an opportunity to be a baton twirler for the Queen Anne High School Band.” Her senior year, Carol was crowned Miss Queen Anne, following which she was thrilled to be voted Seafair Princess.
By the end of Carol’s senior year of high school, she accomplished many accolades with her baton twirling, which led to her receiving one of the first scholarships offered to a woman at the University of Washington, (as they did not have athletic scholarships at that time). As a freshman, she continued to work towards her goal of being a Majorette with the Husky Marching Band, and was chosen Majorette for the U. W. – R.O.T.C. band.
Earning the rank of Majorette with the Husky Marching Band after her freshman year, she held that position for the next three years until she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Recreation. During her senior year, she performed enthusiastically in the first of two Rose Bowl parades, when her beloved Huskies played in the Rose Bowl in 1964.
One other aspect of Carol's college life that she loved was being part of the Delta Gamma Sorority, where she met other women who remained friends for life. She was so proud when her oldest granddaughter Kate followed in her footsteps and became a member of the Delta Gamma Sorority at Washington State University.
In 1965, Carol met and married Phil Shinnick, who had been to the 1964 Olympics as a broad jumper. Phil went into the Air Force and they were stationed in Los Angeles, where she taught twirling in several high schools and at the Inglewood Recreation Department for four years. During that time, she got back into dancing (took dancing lessons with Raquel Welch) and did some television bit parts.
As Walt Evans, (the longtime Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Seattle Times columnist), wrote in a feature PI article on Carol in 1975 – “In 1970, by then a mother of two girls (Shannon, now 9, and Quincey, now 7), Carol was chosen by the Los Angeles Local of the Musicians Association to lead the association band in the Rose Parade. ‘I was paid scale,’ she said, laughing, ‘and it was quite an honor.’”
This was how Carol described her participation in the 1970 Rose Parade –
“I had trained for at least 4-months, took the fur off the costume and replaced it with white feathers, developed a nice tan, white go-go boots and a really blond hairstyle. It was the beginning of the women’s’ liberation movement with lots of protesters along the parade route objecting to the beauty queens, etc. I tucked a note in one of my boots. When I got to a large group I handed them the note and told them what was in it…that I loved what I was doing, my husband was at home babysitting our two girls and for me, this was liberation. I did a little routine for them and they cheered. What fun.”
After Los Angeles, Carol and her young family moved first to Berkeley and then to New Jersey. While in New Jersey, Carol coordinated a statewide physical education program and served on the President’s Planning Commission for Equal Rights for Women in Physical Education. As part of this Commission, she was involved in setting up pre-school activities and a symposium on Women in Athletics.
Carol returned to Seattle in 1974, and enrolled at the UW Graduate School of Public Affairs. At the same time, she went to work as a student researcher at the office of King County Executive John Spellman. As if she wasn’t busy enough juggling her studies and internship, she also went to work for the Sonics basketball team as an official National Basketball Association statistician, one of the first women to serve in this capacity in the NBA.
Carol’s role in John Spellman’s office led to her being hired to work at the Kingdome when it opened in 1976. At a young age, Carol had a terrific desire to excel, and this desire continued with this new stage of her life. During her 24-year career at the Kingdom, she was able to offer her natural talents and creativity effortlessly by serving as the Promotions & Media Relations Manager, Public Information Officer, Special Events Coordinator, Kingdome Tours Coordinator, and Curator of the Kingdome Sports Museum.
She also served as a spokesperson for the stadium, wrote and distributed all public information about the Kingdome, provided advertising and promotional support to tenants (including the Mariners and Seahawks), gave hundreds of presentations to groups, managed budgets, hired and trained support staff, developed promotional programs, coordinated trade show activity and provided organizational support for events of local, national and international significance. Carol also coordinated regional and national tourism programs with the Seattle-King County Convention & Visitor Bureau.
In addition, Carol also managed the Kingdome press box, judged Sea Gals competitions, and was known for her unique promotional activities. She oversaw a wide variety of events, including the NFL Pro Bowl, the MLB All Star Game, the NCAA Final Four tournament, not to mention the annual boat shows and home shows, motor cross racing, Monster Truck competitions, high school basketball, baseball and football tournaments, the Airplane Contest, Evel Knievel, Led Zeppelin, Promise Keepers, Billy Graham Crusades, and Barney.
During Carol’s 24 years at the Kingdome, 73 million people came to the Kingdome for one or more of the 3,360 events that occurred under her watch. The Kingdome was much more than a “job” to Carol, it was her life; and she forged deep friendships with her Kingdome co-workers that lasted for the rest of her life, not to mention all of the other people she worked with both in and out of the Kingdome.
In 1999, given the impact Carol had during her tenure with the Kingdome, she was honored with the Royal Brougham Lifetime Achievement Award at the King County Event Producers Awards ceremony. This award, named in memory of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer sports editor, is awarded to an individual who has dedicated a lifetime of service towards King County events.
After the Kingdome was imploded in 2000, Carol served as the Program Manager for the Marketing of Recyclable Products in the King County Department of Natural Resources before retiring one year later.
During her illustrious career, Carol was involved with many boards and associations, including the Boys & Girls Club of King County – Greenwood Branch and Corporate Board, Seattle Opera Board, and Chair of the Puget Sound Attractions Council. She was also a former member of the West Seattle Rotary Club, where she quipped that the reason she joined that Rotary Club was because she could keep her beloved Kingdome in view from their meeting location at Salty’s on Alki.
After retirement, Carol also continued to stay involved in efforts that were near and dear to her heart, including supporting the efforts of the Pacific Northwest Football Hall of Fame. The skills she honed in her 24 years at the Kingdome came in handy in helping them with their annual awards banquet.
In 2006, Carol was the second woman to be inducted into the Pacific Northwest Football Hall of Fame. In her introductory speech, Coach Jim Lambright mentioned several aspects of Carol’s life that warrants this special recognition: her efforts as the solo Majorette for the Washington Huskies, twelve years spent supporting international athletic competitions, becoming one of the first female statisticians in the NBA, as well as producing the halftime show for the very first Seattle Seahawks promotional activity, an exhibition game between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants in Husky Stadium in 1973. Mr. Lambright also cited all of her efforts at the Kingdome over the years, including the Kingdome hosting the first sold-out NFL Pro Bowl.
From their early childhood through college, Carol was an ardent and enthusiastic supporter of her daughters’ activities, attending all of their school functions and numerous sporting events. Considering that her daughters were both multi-sport athletes who went on to receive NCAA athletic scholarships, the number of games she attended in support of them was staggering.
This devotion to supporting her family continued when she was blessed with six grandchildren, and she was in the stands supporting them just like she did for her daughters. She also enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren whenever possible, including trips to Longview, Portland, Whidbey Island, and Hawaii.
In her retirement years, Carol enjoyed caring for her aging parents at their home on Mercer Island and spending time at her home on Whidbey Island. Purchasing the home during one of the Kingdome’s most difficult times (the ceiling tiles crisis), she came to treasure what “country living” (in her own words) offered: deer stepping out of the woods into her yard, the cries of hawks, eagles, and even the seagulls circling overhead, spectacular sunsets over Admiralty Inlet with the Olympic Mountain Range in the foreground, not to mention all of the dinners she hosted with dear friends enjoying the setting.
It was at her home on Whidbey Island that she spent the last days of her remarkable life before succumbing to illness on July 20, 2017, with family by her side. Carol was preceded in death by her parents, Virgil (2009) and Jane (2011) Peterson. She is survived by her two daughters, Shannon (Cameron) Smock, of Normandy Park, WA, and Quincey Shinnick, of Longview, WA; six grandchildren, Kate, Matt, and Eric Hisken and Jakoby, Roman and Heaven Burr; two brothers, Dale Peterson and Mark (Suzanne Swadener) Peterson; and numerous other cousins and extended family with whom she served as an inspiration.
There will be a memorial to celebrate her extraordinary life on Sunday, November 12, 2017 at 2:00 PM at the Rainier Golf & Country Club, 11133 Des Moines Memorial Drive S., Seattle, WA 98168. Memorials are suggested to the Husky Marching Band Alumni Association via their website - http://www.hmbaa.org.
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