Paul Bangasser Sr., Entrepreneur Who Lived Life As Eternal Optimist

The way Tom Bangasser describes it, his father was addicted to the fun of working with small businesses even after the elder Bangasser had five open-heart operations.

Two years ago, Paul Bangasser Sr., then 75, needed a walker to help during recovery from the fifth operation. "He bought himself a walker, one of those things with wheels that you kind of pick up and put down," said Tom Bangasser, one of three sons.

"Dad looked at that walker and said, `Hey, I can sell these things.' "

And he did.

Mr. Bangasser imported 200 of the collapsible walkers, which also came with pneumatic tires and hand brakes.

"One of my sisters is running that company now," said Tom Bangasser.

Paul Bangasser Sr., died Aug. 15 of heart problems that began in 1965. A memorial Mass is scheduled at 5:30 p.m., Sept. 18 at St. Joseph's Church.

"About five years ago, when he thought he might cash in his chips, he got to thinking about urns," said Tom Bangasser. "He actually talked to astronauts about what was required to put them in space. He was looking into setting up a company to do that. This was his way of having fun."

Mr. Bangasser, who lived and breathed the life of the entrepreneur, was an eternal optimist.

"I remember we used to drive by Northgate Shopping Center and he would tell us how he did the first market survey for it, the first suburban mall," said his son. "And he was involved in the marketing of the underground ball return for bowling alleys."

Mr. Bangasser developed the marketing skills that later served him well in real estate and business management while studying pre-med courses at the University of Washington.

"He was selling mail-order suits working his way through school," recalled Tom Bangasser. "He started selling them to the Husky crew, the one that won the Olympics. He took their measurements and sent them in. The company sent the measurements back to be verified because they didn't believe them. Those guys were huge and the suits were V-shaped."

Mr. Bangasser became close friends with several crew members and was invited to move into the crew house to live with them. "He was probably the only noncrewman to live in the house."

There was a more serious side to Mr. Bangasser. Because of the environment in the family's Capitol Hill home, all six daughters and three sons are college graduates and seven have advanced degrees.

Following World War II, Mr. Bangasser became involved in the Civic Unity organization that worked to correct the animosity against the Japanese. From that, he moved into work for racial equality and was prominent in the work that led to Seattle first fair-housing ordinances.

His wife, Margaret, died in 1976.

He is survived by sons Thomas and Hugh, both of Seattle, and Paul Jr., Geneva, Switzerland; daughters Margaret Delaney, Mary Becker, Katherine Riss, Caron O'Leary, Carol Zarek and Elizabeth Bangasser, all of Seattle.

The family suggests that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Catholic Newman Center at the UW, the Medic One Foundation or the James McGoldrick S.J. Scholarship Fund of the Seattle University Alumni Association.