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Originally published Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 9:03 PM

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Obituary: 'Chuck' Devine, 93, led United Way of King County to a new era

Charles "Chuck" Devine died Friday at age 93. As executive director of United Way of King County, he helped bring about a culture shift in charitable giving from one based on individual solicitations to one that engaged entire corporations, his colleagues and family say.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Charles "Chuck" Devine, who served as United Way of King County's executive director from 1971 to 1984, died on Friday (July 13) at age 93, according to his daughter, Jo Devine-Acres.

Colleagues and family say Mr. Devine helped bring about a culture shift in charitable giving from one based on individual solicitations to one that engaged entire corporations.

Years of working within the organization's previous incarnations — the United Good Neighbor Fund of Seattle and King County, and Community Chest of Seattle and King County — prepared him for a revolution in fundraising, said former United Way communications director Lynda Matthias.

Matthias, who transferred from United Way's Baltimore offices to Seattle's in 1978, said the difference between the two was like night and day.

"Baltimore was twice the size and raising a third of the money, and it was because of this group of city leaders who felt that Chuck was their peer," Matthias said.

Mr. Devine helped establish "Project Transition," a fundraising effort for social services that lost federal funding during the Reagan administration, Matthias said.

He was also instrumental in recruiting the organization's first female president, the late Mary Gates, mother of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Matthias said.

After he retired in 1984, Mr. Devine would spend months in such places as England and Turkey to help establish local United Way chapters abroad, said his daughter. Even after the tragic death of his son Gene, who was killed by a drunken driver in 1988, Mr. Devine continued his philanthropic work with organizations such as Leadership Tomorrow and his church.

Until March of this year, he did it all with the love of his life, wife Ruth, with whom he shared 75 years, counting the time they dated, according to his pastor, Cathlynn Law of Sand Point Community United Methodist Church.

"They took on the world together," Law said.

Before his career in philanthropy, when he was a scholarship student at Chapman College in Southern California, Mr. Devine expected a career in professional baseball, his daughter said.

Getting a draft notice during World War II changed everything, he told Law earlier this year.

He and Ruth married just before he joined the Air Force, but he wasn't shipped off to England until after D-Day in 1943, when most of the German air force had already been decimated.

After his military service, Mr. Devine earned a master's degree in social work from the University of Southern California. Before putting down roots in Seattle, he worked with community organizations in Pasadena, Calif.; San Bernardino, Calif.; and Portland, Ore.

Mr. Devine is survived by his daughter, Jo Devine-Acres, of Whidbey Island; two grandsons and six great-grandchildren.

Donations in Mr. Devine's memory may be made in his name to the Memorial Fund of Sandpoint Community United Methodist Church, 4710 N.E. 70th St., Seattle, 98115, and the United Way Charles and Ruth Devine Family Endowment Fund, at 720 Second Avenue, Seattle 98104.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. July 28 at Sandpoint Community United Methodist Church.

Alexa Vaughn: 206-464-2515 or On Twitter @AlexaVaughn.

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