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Remembering George Rolfe

Founder of real estate education at the University of Washington George Rolfe passed away April 30, 2019, he was 81 years old.

George Rolfe Obituary

Words from Al Levine

Thank you to the friends and colleagues who sent us their condolences.

“George enjoyed a long and impactful career as an urban planner, real estate developer, and educator. He was appointed in 1973 as the first Director of the Pike Place Market Public Development Authority (PDA) and in that role helped revitalize one of Seattle’s most important and iconic urban spaces. He worked with the city to create Seattle’s first pedestrian zone at the Market, and established the plan to build hundreds of low income apartments that today support over 450 Market residents. In 1985, George joined the Urban Design and Planning faculty at the University of Washington. As a member of our faculty, he was a leader in real estate education and one of the first to recognize the important role that real estate development plays in the formation of great urban spaces. He helped develop the Real Estate Certificate Program in 1988, and was the visionary behind a twenty year project to establish a Masters in Real Estate and, later, what is now the Runstad Department of Real Estate. George retired from the UW in 2016.

We will all remember George in our own way. I will remember him as a man who was both pragmatic and principled. He was sometimes be a little cantankerous in faculty meetings and was often impatient with university bureaucracy, but he was also widely respected in the college and throughout the university. At his core, George was an educator. He was a beloved and masterful teacher whose classes and conference workshops were always lively and full. I saw first hand how much he cared for his students and I know that he inspired generations with his honesty and practical wisdom. He leaves behind a vast network of alumni and friends whose lives and careers were profoundly shaped by his influence.

George loved his city, he loved his discipline, and he loved his work as a teacher and mentor, and to each he gave the gift of his own brilliance and vision. We will miss George, but we will also be grateful to have known him and thankful for the many lasting contributions he has made to our college, our community, and our lives.”

Christopher D. Campbell, Ph.D.
Department Chair
Urban Design and Planning
University of Washington, Seattle



Here are some highlights from George’s retirement from UW in 2016.