Walt Crowley has died. Please visit blatherWatch for a moving tribute and an excellent biography.

I first arrived in Seattle in 1969 after having been run out of Florida for publishing an underground newspaper among other things. It was a delight to find The Helix when I arrived. Walt published the Helix, one of the most attractive and readable underground newspapers and a precursor to many other weeklies published in this town.

Walt Crowley, however, had no intention of remaining a hippie publisher. He had a multitude of friends in liberal Seattle and was prominent in many roles. I followed his career in the news and later on television, but it was quite a few years before I met him.

He was speaking at a local Democratic meeting and I was looking forward to seeing him. I was shocked to find my hero sneaking a smoke outside. I didn’t expect someone I admired so much to be hooked on nicotine, but he was, and it eventually led to his early death at 60.

That is much too young to die.

We are really going to miss him in Seattle, but he will live on through his website HistoryLink. Check it for news about a forthcoming memorial service.