An extraordinary man: Dr. Hubert Locke, retired dean of the University of Washington’s graduate School of Public Affairs, was Seattle’s “wise-man-in-residence.” He died Saturday at age 84.
In his 84 years of life, there were numerous people who count themselves fortunate to have met Hubert Locke.
In 1995, The Seattle Times put together a list of local “100 People of Influence.”
About Mr. Locke, it stated: “Aside from all the students he’s inspired over the years as head of the UW’s Graduate School of Public Affairs, Locke serves as a sort of civic wise-man-in-residence, counseling patience and understanding in politicians and offering a voice of reason on contentious issues from race relations to growth management.”
He died Saturday at his downtown condominium, where he lived by himself. Family members became concerned when he didn’t answer the phone over the weekend, and asked the building’s management to check on him.
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Mr. Locke suffered from heart problems, says Sharon Doyle, of Seattle, his former wife of 10 years.
Doyle had remained friends with her former husband.
“His depth of kindness was just unmatched. He’d do anything for people who needed his help,” she says.
Mr. Locke gained national prominence as the author of “The Detroit Riot of 1967,” called “the definitive account of the worst civil disorder in twentieth-century urban America.”
As administrative assistant to that city’s police commissioner, and a liaison to the African-American community, Mr. Locke had a unique perspective.
The book immerses the reader in a literal minute-by-minute account of that sweltering July week.
Mr. Locke was an academic, but as former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice, who knew him and would seek his advice, says, “He knew how things worked in real life, on the ground.”
And so the book begins almost like a police procedural.
The riot begins “with a routine raid on a well-known blind pig (illegal after-hours gambling and drinking joint) … at 3:45 a.m. on Sunday … It was conducted after a Negro vice squad officer had gained entrance to the premises … For some reason, instead of the normal 30 to 40 persons usually netted in a blind pig raid, there were 82 on the premises … “
The scene continues, “As the last prisoners were loaded, however, and the police began to leave the scene, bottles began to sail through the air from the rear of the crowd, one of which shattered the rear window of the precinct cruiser.”
And then follow the rat-tat-tat of police radio messages: “12th and Clairmount — man shot.” “12th and Clairmount — officer needs help.” “Linwood and Clairmount — all stores being broken into.”
Mr. Locke had a long career at the University of Washington.
Norm Arkans, the retired associate vice president for media relations and communications at the UW, remembers when Mr. Locke was vice provost for academic affairs.
“One of the things he was tasked with doing was bringing together folks from various fields in the ocean and fisheries sciences to see if they thought it would be a good idea to establish a new college,” says Arkans.
“At first, none of them thought this idea would fly. But he kept them at it. After two years of talking, they had convinced themselves that this would be the greatest thing to advance science in their fields … which led to the establishment of the College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences. He was a master at listening and getting people to listen to one another.”
Rice says that as a city council member and then mayor, he’d call upon Mr. Locke for advice, including about police accountability.
“You could trust him,” says Rice.
UW President Ana Mari Cauce worked with Mr. Locke and also remembers, “He was someone you could trust. I could speak very honestly.”
She also remembers his deep voice.
“If you would have needed a voice of God, Hubert would be the guy,” says Cauce.
She remembers how proud he was that the School of Public Affairs that he used to head, now renamed the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, was consistently nationally ranked.
Mr. Locke was born in Detroit on April 30, 1934, his mom a housewife, his dad working an open-hearth furnace at the Ford Motor Company.
His plan was to become a clergyman, and so he earned a bachelor’s degree in Latin and Greek at Wayne State University, a bachelor’s in divinity at the University of Chicago and then a master’s in comparative literature at the same university.
For a dozen years, according to HistoryLink.org, he was minister at the Church of Christ of Conant Gardens in Detroit.
Then, black leaders in that city persuaded him to work at a newly created position with the Police Department. Out of that came his book.
A man of many interests, Mr. Locke also became an expert on the Third Reich and the church.
Out of that came his book published in 2000, “Learning from History: A Black Christian’s Perspective on the Holocaust.”
He would write that Jews in Germany had come to believe they were part of the German populace as they moved with relative freedom in cultural, intellectual and economic circles. “It was an assumption, as the entire world now knows, that was fraught with horrendous consequences.”
Mr. Locke continued, “Ironically, much the same illusion but with less dire outcomes has come to mark the plight of many Black people in Western societies who enjoy the trappings of the middle and upper class and, as a consequence, believe themselves to be integrated into those societies.”
Besides Sharon Doyle, his second wife, Mr. Locke is survived by his first wife, Antasha Linder-Haynes, of Dearborn, Michigan; a sister, Joyce Bridgeforth, of Southfield, Michigan; a daughter from each of his two marriages, Lauren Locke, of Ashville, N.C., and Gayle Simmons, of Cape Coral, Florida; and several grandchildren.
Services are pending.