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Jan Gleason, Seattle


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Jan was a shining light, a true believer in social justice, good fellowship, and classical music. I wish I had the chance to know her better. Thank you for taking me under wing when I needed it. And thank you for showing me a way to go with as much grace as you lived.

I'll update this with an official obit when it comes out. A remarkable life.

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Here it is:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/o ... it10m.html

Jan Gleason, Seattle architect, dies at age 61

Jan Gleason, a Seattle architect who made a career of community projects, died Wednesday of lung cancer. She was 61.

By Linda Shaw

Seattle Times staff reporter


Jan Gleason called herself a "social worker in three dimensions."

Jan Gleason, a Seattle architect who made a career of community projects, called herself a "social worker in three dimensions."

Her friends and her partner of 18 years, Ron Hand, can't say what initially sparked Ms. Gleason's interest in designing child-care centers, homeless shelters, low-income housing and community centers, although it might have been her mother's job as a social worker. But Ms. Gleason's passion for such projects led to a distinguished career in which she earned regional and national recognition for providing high-quality architecture to those who usually can't afford it.

Ms. Gleason died Wednesday of lung cancer. She was 61.

She grew up in Port Chester, N.Y., received a bachelor's degree in social science from Cornell University, then moved to Seattle to study at the University of Washington, where she earned a master's in architecture in 1981.

After working for a few other architecture firms, she operated her own firm, Gleason & Associates, from 1982 to 1997, when she combined the firm with Environmental Works, one of the few nonprofit, full-service architecture firms in the country.

In the 12 years that Ms. Gleason led Environmental Works, its staff quadrupled and its income grew from $275,000 a year to $2 million.

Ms. Gleason particularly liked working on child-care centers, friends say, and participated in the design and construction of more than 50 over the years. In 2002, she co-authored a manual about how they should be designed, which was sponsored by the state Department of Trade and Economic Development, and has been distributed nationally.

She once said that housing and day-care centers "should be more than just a roof over somebody's head. Dismal, dreary spaces are oppressive. Light and connections with the outside make us feel better. We believe everybody deserves them."

Recently, Ms. Gleason led the effort to design Neighborhood House High Point Center in West Seattle, which includes counseling offices, a teen center, a family center, classrooms and a Head Start preschool.

In 2006, Ms. Gleason was named a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, one of only 89 architects in Washington to receive that honor since 1952.

David Hewitt, a Seattle architect who sponsored her nomination, said he was impressed with her "ingenious design sensitivity that made the most out of almost nothing."

"She did some incredibly inspired work on absolutely minimum budgets," he said.

Ms. Gleason was as committed to her personal relationships as she was to her work. Colleagues and clients and just about everyone she met became friends.

"Once people got to know Jan, they continued to know Jan and she was great about staying in touch," said Roger Tucker, the director of architecture at Environmental Works, who had worked with Ms. Gleason for 22 years.

Outside of work, Ms. Gleason played soccer, most recently in an over-50 league, and was a longtime cellist in the Cascade Symphony Orchestra in Edmonds.

She also volunteered for a number of causes, including the Homeless Remembrance Project, an effort to build a memorial to homeless people who have died in King County. At the time of her death, she was project manager for the memorial.

"She was never bored," said Hand. "She always took on way too much, but always seemed to accomplish it somehow."

When Ms. Gleason retired from Environmental Works in December 2008, Hand says, he joked that she still wouldn't be around the house too much because of all her interests. Even when she was in so much pain that it took her minutes to get from her house to her car, she'd still go to meetings, he said.

"She was a total workaholic and playaholic," he said. "She got every inch out of life she could."

In addition to Hand, Ms. Gleason is survived by brothers William Gleason of Seattle and John Gleason of Portland, and three nieces.

Services have not yet been set. Remembrances may be sent to the Homeless Remembrance Project, c/o WHEEL, P.O. Box 2548, Seattle, WA 98111, or at homelessproject.org/.

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what a wonderful woman Jan will be remembered for being! I am so sorry for the loss of an accomplished person. My condolences to friends and family of hers!!

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