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Alvin Ulbrickson Jr., 1930-2012

Alvin Ulbrickson Jr.
If ever there was a UW athlete whose life was all about the purple and gold, it was Al Ulbrickson Jr., (second from right) who died July 6 at the age of 81. He was the son of a legendary UW rowing coach of the same name, a consummate oarsman and a member of the 1952 U.S. Olympic crew team that brought home a bronze medal in the coxed fours event at the Helsinki Games. Both he and his father were inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame and both helped shape the UW athletic department and its rowing program.

Ulbrickson, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physical education, devoted many years of service to the UW. He served first as dean of men and later as vice president of Student Affairs. Not one to retire to a life on the golf course, Ulbrickson served as executive director of the South Snohomish County Chamber of Commerce after he left the UW.

He was a spirited man with a wide smile and the ability to make people feel welcome. He was involved with Community Services for the Blind, Kiwanis and Seattle Junior Crew, and worked hard to promote the Junior Crew Rowing program at Green Lake. He is survived by his wife, Monica; daughter, Rinda; son Alvin III; and three grandchildren.—Julie Garner

2 Responses to Alvin Ulbrickson Jr., 1930-2012

  1. Herschel W. Lawson, MD says:

    I just recently finished reading Boys in the Boat, although it’s been among my bedside stack for well over a year now.

    From the very start of the book I had a great sense of nostalgia and often felt a deep personal attachment to the story. There are many reasons for this which became more apparent as I followed your moving account of all the events.

    I was born and raised in Seattle. My birth year (1940) came just a few years after the Olympic story, but because my father was an alumnus of the UW (1933) and his great love of rowing, I was steeped in lore about the great UW crews, became an avid fan at a very early age, and looked forward every year to the crew races on Lake Washington. We lived close to Lake Washington, and so it was not a long walk on race day Saturdays—rainy, cloudy or sunny—to the course which was at that time in the lee just north of the Mercer Island floating bridge off Mt. Baker and Madrona beaches.

    Sure, the UW football and basketball teams were ever in our minds, but crew races to us were the pinnacles of competition. Throughout the years I followed their progress through good and bad and even had opportunities to visit the Pocock’s workshop when it was still in the boathouse and after they moved. That was even better than an ice cream cone on a hot summer day at Alki beach.

    I spent 8 years at the UW, after graduating from Garfield High School, in 1959, earning undergraduate and medical degrees while attending. Since then, my time spent in Seattle has primarily been as a visitor, although the majority of my family, including my eldest son and his family still live there.

    While in medical school, my former wife and I and our oldest son lived in a house in the View Ridge neighborhood which was owned by Al Ulbrickson Jr. So, the coach’s son (and of course a 1952 Olympic Games competitor, himself—winning a bronze in the coxed-fours) was a frequent visitor to our home to make minor repairs and make sure we weren’t trashing his little rental house. We, of course, did not.

    The final close association, was having an ‘aha’ experience when I realized that Dr. Chuck Day and his family which included Susan and Jeff, lived in the next block for several years. Susan was a classmate of mine for a few years. I believe they moved away before we were in high school, and I also believe that Dr. Day had already been diagnosed with lung cancer before they moved.

    So, as you can see, it’s more than just a story and an historical account to me.

    I’m hoping that maybe, in response to the upsurge in attention for its rowing history, that the UW Bookstore will re-issue a UW window decal which featured, I believe, the coxed-8 oar crew that won the gold in Berlin, in 1936. I guess only time will tell.

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