State Sen. Scott White, a Seattle Democrat, was found dead Friday at a resort in Kittitas County where he was participating in an annual leadership conference.

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State Sen. Scott White was found dead Friday at a resort in Kittitas County where he was participating in a leadership conference.

Sen. White, 41, a Seattle Democrat, did not appear for events scheduled Friday morning. A cause of death was not yet established, but friends and colleagues said it did not appear to be suspicious.

“It’s a real loss,” said King County Councilman Larry Phillips, who met briefly with Sen. White on Thursday evening. “Scott was a tremendous individual, a wonderful husband and father, friend and colleague. He’s going to be sorely missed by a lot of people.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a news release that he was stunned to hear of Sen. White’s death. Constantine called him a “rising star in the Legislature, and a champion for his district and for King County.”

He was vice chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

Sen. White was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 2008 before winning election to the Senate in 2010. He represented the 46th District, which includes Northgate, Laurelhurst, Broadview, Wedgwood, Lake City and Greenwood neighborhoods.

He also worked as a program manager at the University of Washington, where he taught graduate-level public-policy courses, according to his political biography.

He leaves behind a wife, Alison, and two children, ages 5 and 3. The oldest had just started kindergarten, according to Phillips.

“My heart goes out to the family of Senator Scott White tonight,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a statement. “Scott was a dedicated public servant and champion of important issues in Olympia. He was never afraid to tackle the difficult problems — and did so with a positive attitude, which I always appreciated.”

Sen. White had been attending the Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s 2011 annual leadership conference held at the Suncadia Resort just outside of Roslyn.

“He was seemingly in good health last evening,” Phillips said. Sen. White was always “young and youthful-looking, a former athlete. He doesn’t carry extra weight. It’s really shocking.”

Sen. White’s body was found at about 2 p.m. Friday by housekeeping staff after he failed to check out of his room, according to Kittitas County Sheriff Gene Dana.

Sheriff’s Cmdr. Bob Gubser said there was no evidence of foul play. An autopsy will likely be conducted Monday, he said.

A native of Olympia, Sen. White was a former quarterback at Timberline High School in Thurston County and always had a lot of energy to knock on doors, said his friend and political consultant, Christian Sinderman.

He was a graduate of Western Washington University and later, while working as chief of staff for the Metropolitan King County Council, earned his master’s of public administration from the UW’s Evans School of Public Affairs, according to biographical information on his campaign website.

Several people were at a dinner with Sen. White on Thursday night, including Randy Hodgins, vice president of external affairs for the University of Washington. Sen. White walked into the restaurant and was waved over to a table where several friends were seated.

“He seemed perfectly fine,” Hodgins said. Hodgins said he noticed the senator was not around during the morning on Friday, but figured he left early. “We’re just devastated,” Hodgins said. “He was so well-liked.”

Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue, worked with Sen. White on a Highway 520 planning group and the Senate Higher Education Committee. As recently as this week, they talked about an op-ed piece they were co-authoring.

“He was a smart guy, really worked Olympia well. For as long as he’d been there, he had a hell of an impact.”

Staff reporters Andrew Garber and Mike Lindblom contributed to this report.

Jeff Hodson: 206-464-2109 or jhodson@seattletimes.com