Willis Camp, 80; '62 World's Fair Official Was Devoted To Civic Activities

Willis Camp was best known for his extensive civic activities.

In 1945, for example, when he was chosen Seattle's Outstanding Young Man by the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Camp also was involved in leadership roles in at least 15 community groups, from the Red Cross to the YMCA to heading annual drives for the Community Chest, the forerunner of United Way.

It was a commitment Mr. Camp honored throughout his life, serving as a vice president of Seattle's 1962 World's Fair and returning in 1987 to help plan the fair's 25th anniversary celebration.

But it was how he handled an incident with his youngest son, Robert, that tells a lot about Mr. Camp, how he treasured his family and wanted his children to take responsibility and learn from their actions.

Robert said he was 6 at the time and the family was living on Capitol Hill when he accidentally broke a neighbor's window during a "dirt bomb" fight. "I was petrified and I ran home and told them what happened," Robert Camp said.

Mr. Camp took Robert by the hand and they went back to the neighbor's home, where he asked Robert to say he was sorry. "I want you to apologize; you made a mistake," his father explained.

Then they removed the window and took it home, where Mr. Camp used the situation to teach Robert how to cut glass and putty a window. No lecture, just a learning experience. "It turned out to be a totally positive experience," Robert Camp recalled yesterday.

Mr. Camp, 80, died Saturday in Virginia Mason Hospital.

Although he was involved in dozens of civic duties throughout his life, Mr. Camp drew his greatest nourishment from his family. In 1987, Mr. Camp told an interviewer, "My greatest source of satisfaction throughout life has been my wonderful, close-knit family. We all talk together frequently and have birthday parties and really love one another."

Another son, Steve Camp, explained that his father had a tremendous amount of energy and he became a mover and shaker in the best sense of the word. "Because he was so organized and so effective, people brought him into things," he added.

"If anyone was ever put on this earth to get things done, it was my Dad . . . if Dad agreed to do something it would be done, period," Steve Camp said.

William Street, former general manager of Frederick & Nelson, said he asked Mr. Camp to be his vice president for public relations because "he knew how to get along with people and at the same time achieve something - he wasn't the pushy kind."

Mr. Camp had a tremendous amount of integrity and was very loyal to the city, said Dave Hughbanks, a longtime friend. "I don't think there was a cause that he got involved in that he didn't give 110 percent," he said.

A native of Berkeley, Calif., Mr. Camp graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and then joined United Airlines. He was transferred to Seattle in 1942.

In 1946, Mr. Camp became general manager of Epcon Products, a national outdoor-sign company with headquarters here, and in 1950 he joined Frederick & Nelson and was given credit for the department store negotiating for a spot in Bellevue Square.

In 1962, Mr. Camp joined Western International Hotels as assistant to the president. He retired in 1978.

In addition to Steve and Robert, Mr. Camp is survived by his wife, LaReine; daughters, Marliss Edwards of Edmonds and Rosemary Muse of Kirkland; stepchildren, Michael Revenaugh of Oregon and Linda Gilgosh of Woodinville; a sister, Margaret Fisher of Alameda, Calif.; and 15 grandchildren.

Services will be held tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. at the University Congregational Church. A celebration of Mr. Camp's life will follow at the Meany Hotel.

The family suggests that remembrances be sent to the Pacific Science Center, 200 Second Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109.