EVERETT — Kirke Sievers, Snohomish County’s treasurer and one of its longest tenured public servants, died Wednesday.
Sievers, whose health had been in decline, passed away at home after Christmas celebrations with family. He was 77.
“Our family had an amazing Christmas yesterday,” his daughter, Jocelyn Sievers-Bailey, wrote on Facebook. “We celebrated together, opened gifts, had a delicious meal, took pictures and enjoyed being together. After a full day of blessings our dad, Kirke Sievers passed to the heavens.
“His legacy will be felt forever … and he never had to retire from the Treasurer’s office! He is an example of a life well-lived,” she wrote.
Sievers was days away from concluding a 44-year career in elected office, a span consisting of three terms on the Snohomish County Council sandwiched between two tours as county treasurer. In all, voters elected him nearly a dozen times.
“Kirke was one of those folks that took the business of serving the public very serious without being overly consumed by it,” said Bob Drewel, a former Snohomish County executive. “He never ever saw holding public office as an exercise between elections.”
Thursday morning, Sievers’ wife, Patti, accompanied by the couple’s three children, delivered the sad news to the treasurer’s staff.
Drewel wasn’t present but presumed there would be profound sadness because of their adoration for their boss.
“There was a loyalty there almost beyond description,” Drewel said. “He cared as much about how they were doing on the inside as much as he cared about how they were doing on the outside.”
Snohomish County Councilman Sam Low has known the Sievers family since he was in high school and a classmate of Jocelyn Sievers.
“What I learned from Kirke is to treat everyone with respect,” he said.
In July, the county installed a plaque renaming the area outside the administration building along Wall Street as “Sievers Plaza.” It is to honor Kirke and his late father, Verne, who between them served 80-plus years in county government, most of it in the treasurer’s office.
Low first proposed the idea in 2018. “I’m glad we could do it in July while Kirke was still here,” he said.
Verne Sievers began the family reign in 1935 after being elected county auditor the year prior. He served two terms before being elected treasurer in 1942. After a hiatus to serve in World War II, he returned and was elected to serve as treasurer. He served until he decided to retire in 1974.
Kirke Sievers entered public office when his father got out. At the time, he was living in Everett and teaching business and typing classes at Marysville High School, back when there was only one high school in town.
“I came home,” he recalled in a 2018 interview. “I read the paper (and) I read an article about my dad not running again. He never said a word to me.”
The younger Sievers, a Democrat, later served on the County Council for a dozen years. After running up against term limits on the council, he campaigned successfully to win back his old job as treasurer in 2007. He reached his term limit this year and will be succeeded in office by Brian Sullivan, a Democratic County Councilman.
“Snohomish County is grateful for Kirke Sievers’ lifetime commitment to service,” Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said in a statement. “He will be remembered for the honor and integrity he brought to public office. As a role model, his most important character trait was love for family.”
Low and Drewel each repeatedly cited Sievers’ unlimited concern for and commitment to the public throughout his career.
So much so, Low said, that he chose not to have a secretary handling incoming calls.
“He wanted to take the phone calls and to talk to the public directly,” Low said.
Kirke Sievers is survived by his wife, Patti, three children, Jocelyn, Danielle and Jeff, eight grandchildren and a great-grandson.
Funeral arrangements are pending.