In Memory of Les Tonkin

We learned the unfortunate news recently of the passing of Les Tonkin, a longtime supporter and former Board member of the Washington Trust. 

Les not only served as a longtime Trust Board member, officer, and Board President of the organization, but housed the Trust's offices at his Seattle architecture firm for many years and supported the organization with the help of his staff.

Simply put, the Washington Trust would not be here today if it weren't for his support and generosity. We are both touched and grateful that Les and his family included the Washington Trust in his remembrances.

Through his work, Les was dedicated to historic preservation. For those who had the fortune of knowing and working with Les, we hope you will be able to attend the planned celebration of his life on April 30th.

Published in The Seattle Times on Apr. 10, 2016

Leslie V. Tonkin

September 15, 1940 - March 26, 2016

Les Tonkin passed away quietly following a courageous battle with renal cancer. Les had many great passions and contributed in numerous ways to the quality of life we enjoy in the Puget Sound region.

First and foremost, Les loved his family and friends and will be greatly missed by all especially his wife Karin Hunt, his son Matthew, daughter-in-law, Katy, granddaughter Samantha, daughter Terry and brother Richard. Les was preceded in death by his wife of 35 years Liz Tonkin who passed away in 2006.

A successful architect for almost 40 years, Les formed his original practice Tonkin/Greissinger Architecture with his good friend Walt Greissinger in Pioneer Square in the late 1970's to pursue specialties in historic preservation and affordable housing. Through various iterations, Tonkin Architecture fulfilled Les' original objectives and left an amazing legacy in the many successful projects he designed.

Accomplishments included purchase and restoration of the Triangle Tavern Building on First Ave where many sports fans have celebrated Mariners and Seahawks victories, Wallingford Center which turned a surplus elementary school into the heart of the neighborhood, Rainier Vista which turned dilapidated public housing into a vibrant mixed-income community, and thousands of other affordable and market-rate units for clients as diverse as Mercy Housing NW, Low Income Housing Institute, Seattle, King County, Tacoma and Archdiocesan Housing Authorities.

The Winthrop Hotel in Tacoma and Building 9 at Sand Point were the last two projects on which Les worked and he rests easy knowing the talented and dedicated staff at Tonkin Architecture will carry them on with the professionalism and excellence he strived to meet in every project.

Les was born in Chicago, but his family moved to Belmont, CA at a very young age where he lived until he earned his degree in Architecture from the University of Oregon and became a lifelong Duck fan before opening his practice in Seattle.

Les loved his annual fall pesto parties and took delight in being the official photographer for all occasions among family and friends. He was rarely seen without a camera in his possession. A great day for Les always included a game of handball to which he never tired of recruiting new players. Les also loved to travel especially to Italy and Mexico where he had many memorable experiences and friends.

He will be greatly missed by all who crossed his path.

A celebration of Les' life is planned for Saturday, April 30th at 1:30 PM. Palace Ballroom. 2100 5th Ave., Seattle.

Remembrances can be made to Washington Trust for Historic Preservation ( or the Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County (