Former Port of Edmonds director Chris Keuss dies

Named Citizen of the Year in 2007
By Brian Soergel | Feb 26, 2018
Courtesy of: Kimberly Demetre Chris Keuss

Christopher Keuss, former executive director at the Port of Edmonds, died Feb. 24 at his home in Edmonds. Keuss was 70 and had cancer.

“He had his second bout about three years ago, and it came back,” said his wife, Judy Keuss. “He also had heart issues. He still had a lot of things to do on his bucket list.”

Keuss served the port for 12 years, four as deputy director and eight as executive director. He retired in May 2009 and was succeeded by Bob McChesney, the current executive director.

While executive director, Keuss wrote the “Port View” column for the Edmonds Beacon.

“Chris was a dedicated, capable and gentle man, who led the Port of Edmonds through a very difficult time in its history,” current Port Commissioner James Orvis said.

“He served as assistant director and then as executive director during the period when the Port was rebuilding the marina, and then during the acquisition of Harbor Square.

“His ability to remain calm in a crisis, firm in carrying out commission policy, and wise in his counsel, were major reasons for the Port's success. Through this, Chris never lost track of the people who worked for him. He was their champion."

His kindness and concern for individuals and their families was evident in his management style and in his daily life. Chris was a man every community needs and rarely finds. His passing is a loss to his family, his friends and to the entire community.”

“Most people knew Chris as the port director,” said Gary Haakenson, former Edmonds City Council member and mayor from 2000 to 2010. “But he was so much more than that. He was an advocate for Edmonds. He worked hard publicly and behind the scenes to make Edmonds a better place. Above all, he was a good man. And he will be missed.”

Keuss was born Sept. 3, 1947, in Seattle. He graduated from Roosevelt High School and earned a bachelor’s degree at Willamette University in Oregon and a master’s degree in public administration from Pacific Lutheran University.

Before joining the Port of Edmonds, Keuss, a Navy veteran, was assistant manager at King County Parks, manager of the parking service division at the University of Washington and director of facilities and property management for Crista Ministries in Shoreline.

Keuss was named 2007 Edmonds Citizen of the Year by the Sno-King and Edmonds Senior Kiwanis clubs. That same year, he was the cover of Dock Age magazine in conjunction with the magazine’s naming the port facility Marina of the Year.

Among Keuss’ accomplishments at the port was the installation of a weather station and starting the “Destination: Port of Edmonds” program in 2005. The program, which continues today, offers incentives for guest boaters while in Edmonds.

Before he retired, Keuss was instrumental in an attempt to revitalize the waterfront in Edmonds from the ferry south to the port of Harbor Square. The plan included significantly higher buildings, and never materialized.

Another attempt to renovate Harbor Square a few years ago, under McChesney, also failed to gain traction.

“Chris represented the port with class and dignity,” said Darlene Stern, a former City council candidate. “His demeanor in making many presentations to the City Council was always patient and well prepared. He managed the port with fiscal responsibility and earned the respect of the community within the port and its extended influence on Edmonds at large.

“It was a pleasure to get to know him after he retired. His depth of knowledge of the port and its impact on the city ran deep, and he willingly shared his understanding constructively. I enjoyed be associated with him. Chris was not only a gentleman, he was full of grace as well. I will miss this man who may be gone, but will not be forgotten.”

Keuss is survived by Judy, his wife of 42 years, two stepchildren, five grandchildren, two brothers, one sister and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

A memorial service will be held 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at New Life/Lynnwood Free Methodist Church, 6519 188th St. SW, Lynnwood.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to New Life Church in Lynnwood or Swedish Cancer Institute in Edmonds.


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