He was a Shoreline firefighter; Drewel, president of Everett Community College.
The occasion was to pay tribute to Everett firefighter Gary Parks, who died battling a blaze on the campus in 1987.
Their paths would cross many times again after Cooper was elected to the Legislature and Drewel became the Snohomish County executive who would squeeze state lawmakers for more money for transportation improvements in his county.
"From the beginning, he was always caring and compassionate," Cooper said.
On Monday, Cooper and a host of other elected officials recognized Drewel, dedicating a $41 million county administration building in his name before a standing-room-only crowd.
Officially, the eight-story structure, the tallest building in downtown Everett, has been named the Robert J. Drewel Building. It had been known as "Admin East."
Cooper hopes it will simply become known as "the Bob Building."
Drewel, a Democrat, 62, was elected in 1991 and served 12 years as county executive. He left office because of term limits.
Monday's ceremony was a bipartisan affair that included comments from a congressman and County Council members. Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a statement read by an aide that Drewel earned "a reputation as a champion of education, economic development and regional leadership and ... Bob's bipartisan spirit allowed him to bring diverse groups together to achieve goals benefitting the entire community."
A representative relayed comments from current County Executive Aaron Reardon, who did not attend.
County Councilman John Koster, a Republican, said he expected politics would put him and Drewel at loggerheads but quickly discovered they could work well together.
"I have a deep appreciation for your honesty and integrity and your expertise," Koster told Drewel at the event.
Drewel received several awards, including an American flag flown over the nation's capital in his honor on June 3. Congressman Rick Larsen, a former county councilman, presented Drewel with the flag.
"I certainly enjoyed my time on the council working with then County Executive Bob Drewel," Larsen said.
Reporter Eric Stevick: 425-339-446 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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