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Wednesday, February 28, 2007 - Page updated at 04:41 PM

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Information in this article, originally published February 24, 2007, was corrected February 27, 2007. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Fred Dean was 66 when he died. He was 55.

Fred Dean, 55 turned interim coaching job into a passion

Seattle Times staff reporter

When Fred Dean agreed to coach a South Seattle community track league, it was only going to be temporary.

Mr. Dean, a former receiver for the University of Washington football team, was the only one in his family who had never competed in track and field. But when his older sister retired from coaching, he agreed to give it a shot, said his brother Gregory Dean.

Mr. Dean was instantly hooked, and he remained active in the South Central Athletic Association for 15 years.

"He was having an impact on these kids' lives," said Gregory Dean, chief of the Seattle Fire Department. "He would go back and visit these kids in college."

Fred Dean died Feb. 17 after suffering a heart attack at his Mount Baker home. He was 55.

Fred Dean was the fourth of five children born to William and Edna Dean. Growing up in Seattle's Central Area, Mr. Dean was known around Franklin High School for his love of sports and fast cars, his brother said.

As teens, Mr. Dean and brother Gregory regularly took a bus to Snoqualmie Pass to ski. It was on a ski bus that 15-year-old Fred Dean met his future wife, Josie.

"He came home on the ski bus and talked about how he met this girl," said their daughter, Asha Dean, recalling the story she has heard from relatives. "Their connection was close and they shared a lot of the same views."

After graduating from the UW with a degree in accounting, Mr. Dean married Josie and worked for the Arthur Anderson accounting firm and the Seattle Mariners, his brother said. Most recently, Mr. Dean worked for CFOsoft, a financial management software company based in Renton.

Though Mr. Dean loved his work, it was coaching track for youth between the ages of 5 and 18 that was his true passion.

Asha Dean, who is head track coach at the University of Great Falls in Montana, and her cousin Kali Roberts, head track coach at Holy Names Academy, said Mr. Dean inspired them to coach.

Roberts, 36, said that he and his uncle often shared tips on how to be a better coach.

"The good information he would give me was, 'Don't worry so much about what you're coaching, but how you're coaching the athletes,' " Roberts said. "He wanted me to make sure I was giving them positive reinforcement."

"He was one of my best friends," said Asha Dean, 26. "He was always a personable person. He could go anywhere and make friends."

Mr. Dean is survived by his wife, Josie; mother, Edna, of Seattle; daughters Asha and Courtney, who is attending college in Massachusetts; brothers Gregory, of Seattle, and Tony, of the Netherlands; and sisters Barbara, of Oakland, Calif., and Dalwyn, of Seattle.

Family and friends are invited to pay their respects at Bonney-Watson Funeral Home, 1732 Broadway, Seattle, from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. today and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

A rosary will be said at 6 p.m. on Sunday at Immaculate Conception Church, 820 18th Ave., in Seattle. A memorial service will held at the same church at 11 a.m. on Monday.

Donations may be sent to PNTF (Pacific Northwest Track and Field), in care of the Fred Dean Scholarship Fund, 3766 S. 192nd St., SeaTac, WA 98188.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

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