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Thursday, May 18, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Bob Dietz, retired dean at UW

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

Age finally caught up with Bob Dietz's golf game.

The game was so important to the former dean of the University of Washington's architecture school that when his drives began to fall short of 160 or 170 yards, he would claim that he was giving up the sport.

Then, when he'd go to the golf course, he told people that he was just going there to hit balls.

"We joked that after he reached 93 and couldn't drive 300 yards anymore, the game was over," said his wife, Sally Dietz of Arizona. "He was a good golfer — averaging 68 to 69 for 18 holes — and his drives were his pride."

Mr. Dietz had retired from an architecture career that included serving on the design committee for the Seattle World's Fair and sitting on presidential commissions. But he continued to play golf, right up to a few weeks before his death May 8 at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix from complications after surgery. He was 94.

Robert H. Dietz was born Jan. 12, 1912, in Crofton, Neb., the eldest son of Jacob Dietz and Frances Huennekens Dietz. The family moved to Seattle when he was 7.

After he graduated from O'Dea High School in 1929, he worked his way through the University of Washington doing many jobs, including being a longshoreman and a mail-room clerk, recalled his sister, Virginia McNurlin of Olympia. But for extra money he would set up a chair at the Pike Place Market and sketch people's portraits.

Mr. Dietz graduated from the UW in 1941 and received a scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a master's in architecture.

During World War II he worked with the National Defense Research Council.

After the war, he got a job as a professor in the UW's architecture department, and in 1950 he won a prominent award for his design of a Mercer Island home. In 1952, he and Lawrence Waldron founded Waldron and Dietz, a noted Seattle architectural firm.

As Seattle planned the 1962 World's Fair, Mr. Dietz served on a committee that reviewed and approved the design for what is now Seattle Center. The year of the fair, Mr. Dietz was named dean of the UW's architecture school, which expanded and became the College of Architecture and Urban Planning under his watch. He held the post until 1972 and retired in 1980.

Former UW President William Gerberding said Mr. Dietz designed one of the few alterations made to the historic UW presidential mansion. It was a sun room, "and as a 16-year occupant, I can attest that it worked beautifully," Gerberding wrote this week in an American Institute of Architects memorial.

A former student, Gerald Pomeroy of Mercer Island, said Mr. Dietz was an encouraging teacher.

"He always gave you challenges to do a better job," said Pomeroy, now a retired architect.

In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson appointed Mr. Dietz to the National Commission on Architectural Barriers to improve handicapped accessibility. He also served on the National Architectural Accrediting Board and traveled around the country to assess college architecture departments.

He served as president of Sahalee Country Club in Redmond in 1979, and after retirement Mr. Dietz devoted his life to golf, though there was also travel, gin rummy and drawing. He met his second wife, Sally, on the golf course. The couple moved to Gold Canyon, Ariz., 12 years ago.

His first wife, the former Sarah Jayne Perkins, died in 1973. Two sisters, Stella Wolley and Olive Greenwood, also died before him.

Other survivors include three sons, Alan of New Jersey, Carl of New York, and Earl of Spanaway; a brother, Dennis Dietz of Seattle; five stepchildren; four grandchildren; three nieces; and two nephews.

As Mr. Dietz had requested, there will be no services.

Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or sgrindeland@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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