Kate Webster was a revered leader at Seattle Children’s hospital and a longtime WSU regent who helped the university open campuses in Spokane, the Tri-Cities and Vancouver, Wash. “Her good sense was invaluable,” said former WSU President Sam Smith.
There’s a building at Washington State University that stands head and shoulders above the others, and it has Kate Webster’s name on it.
“She was not a tall woman, but she was a towering woman, so we named the tallest building in campus Webster Hall,” said Sam Smith, a former president of the university.
Ms. Webster, a revered leader at Seattle Children’s hospital and longtime WSU regent who helped the university open branch campuses in Spokane, the Tri-Cities and Vancouver, Wash., has died. She was 92.
“Her good sense was invaluable,” Smith said. “People would listen to her because she had a very quiet, calm manner.”
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Raised in New York City, Ms. Webster married and moved to Seattle after meeting her husband at the Portland wedding of her Smith College roommate.
“She very quickly became involved in Junior League and spent the rest of her life as a professional volunteer doing unbelievable things,” said Kelly Webster, a daughter.
Ms. Webster served as president of the Junior League of Seattle and on the boards of many other organizations, including United Way of King County, the YMCA of Greater Seattle and Smith College. She was a founding member of Seattle CityClub.
Her husband, Holt Webster, with whom she lived on Bainbridge Island until his death in 1992, founded the Airborne Express delivery company.
Ms. Webster joined the Children’s board of trustees in 1963, became its chairwoman in 1970 and provided guidance as the hospital established an affiliation with the University of Washington School of Medicine.
“She was smart as a whip,” said Nancy Senseney, the hospital’s current board chair. “Everybody wanted her because she had a unique ability to tackle problems and bring people together, and then come out smiling on the other side, still friends.”
Daughter Anne Fox said Ms. Webster tempered her strong will with a sense of humor that she sustained even in her final moments. She died Friday morning after a short hospital stay.
“She was very generous to people she knew and cared about,” Fox said. “She served as a mentor to many young women and was the matriarch in our family.”
Ms. Webster advocated for WSU’s expansion because she thought it would give more people access to education, Smith said. Based on the success of that move years ago, the university soon will open a medical school in Spokane, he noted.
“She would point out, ‘They can’t all pack up and move to Pullman,’ ” Smith said. “These campuses are now flourishing. She was always looking down the road.”
Ms. Webster was preceded in death by her husband and a son, Craig Webster. Survivors include her daughters Kelly Webster and Anne Fox, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Arrangements for a service are still being made.