Man remembered for his devotion to Edmonds

Jacque Mayo spent his career practicing dentistry in Seattle, yet his home and heart were in downtown Edmonds. As owner of several major buildings in the city’s core, Dr. Mayo might just as well have been dubbed “Mr. Edmonds.”

The Edmonds Theater on Main Street, built in the 1920s as the Edmonds Princess Theater, has long been a gem among his many properties.

“He did have a love of that place. It was one of his favorite businesses,” said Robert Rine, who worked for Mayo as theater manager for almost 20 years.

“In my opinion, he cared about Edmonds more than almost anyone,” said Gary Schmitt,” president of the board of directors of the Bank of Washington. In 1996, Mayo was among founders of the Bank of Edmonds, which later became the Bank of Washington.

“He had a passion for Edmonds,” Schmitt said. “Jack truly had a passion about the downtown.”

Jacque “Jack” Mayo died at his Edmonds home on Aug. 26 after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 78.

He is survived by four children, Todd, Stephanie, Michelle and Jonathan, and by a granddaughter, Olivia. He was preceded in death by his parents, Horace and Velma Mayo, and by his wives Ginny and Dorrie. He was also divorced years ago from a third wife.

Born in Seattle, Mayo was a graduate of the University of Washington Dental School and was a Navy veteran. His dental practices were in Seattle’s Green Lake and Northgate neighborhoods, and for many years he lived in the Richmond Beach area.

His son Jonathan Mayo, of San Francisco, said his father moved to Edmonds, not far from his beloved theater, about 14 years ago.

Long before that, he was buying property in Edmonds, a place that had stolen his heart.

“He became interested in downtown Edmonds in the early 1970s,” said Jonathan Mayo, recalling that Durbin’s, a women’s clothing store, was his father’s first acquisition there. “He loved everything about Edmonds — the small-town feel, it’s walkable, it’s on the Sound and has a view. He believed in that town.”

With the theater, Mayo said his father saw a way to attract visitors who would patronize the city’s other businesses.

“Obviously, if the town did well, Jack would do well,” said Schmitt, adding that Mayo’s aims went beyond personal business success. “If downtown thrived, he was convinced the entire town would thrive.”

Schmitt said Mayo had a commonsense approach that sometimes ruffled official feathers. “No question, he was always prodding elected officials to do more to enhance the viability of downtown. He was often a thorn in their side,” Schmitt said.

“He was never a thorn in my side,” said Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson. “He was very focused on creating a downtown Edmonds everyone could enjoy.

“He became frustrated not with politics or politicians, but with rules,” Haakenson said. “He worked tirelessly on a lot of committees, working for the betterment of downtown Edmonds.”

A traveler in later life, Mayo came to love other places. Sun Valley, Idaho, became a home away from home, and he also had real estate interests there, Jonathan Mayo said. Haakenson recalled having dinner with Mayo in Scottsdale, Ariz., another place he loved.

Jonathan Mayo said his father loved tennis and had traveled to see the French Open, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open championships. Although he retired from dentistry at 65, he never really retired until illness slowed him down.

“It’s almost as though dentistry supported his real estate hobby, but he loved his patients,” said daughter Michelle Mayo, who lives in Snohomish.

She and Jonathan recalled the first night their father took over as owner of the Edmonds Theater, in the 1980s. Their mother, Ginny, joined her husband and children working at the theater that night.

“His goal was to start attracting people downtown,” she said. Among other Mayo properties are the Leyda Building, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Main Street, and another large building closer to the ferry dock.

“He found someplace he loved, and he put his whole heart and soul into making it a better place,” Michelle Mayo said.

She also said the family has no plans to sell the Edmonds Theater.

“The theater is a huge legacy of him, one that we want to continue,” she said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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