About to retire, Delridge’s Ron Angeles looks back, and ahead

Story and photo by Jack Mayne
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

Tomorrow night is your chance to cheer and honor Ron Angeles, as he gets ready to retire from his City of Seattle work as a neighborhood district coordinator on March 15th.

Friends and colleagues have organized a community celebration 6-8 pm Thursday at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. But before that – time to look back, and look ahead.

Angeles is known best, and most recently, in West Seattle as the coordinator for the Delridge Neighborhoods District, before the Department of Neighborhoods‘ recent reorganization of district coordinators.

But very soon he will begin as a coach for girls’ softball at Evergreen High School, and he will stay on the board of Neighborhood House while also working with a Filipino employees organization.

His real desire, though is to catch up with the hundreds of friends he has met all over the area – and maybe some time to take it easy.
Angeles has been with the city even longer than its government has included the Department of Neighborhoods, which was started in 1988.

Angeles stayed in Rainier Valley until the late ‘80s, when they added a second
neighborhood coordinator in West Seattle. At that time the only West Seattle office was in the South Delridge area, at 16th and Cambridge.

The city opened a new office in the early 1990s on California SW across from the
Rite Aid store, and he was ready to leave Rainier Valley, so he was tabbed to open the new center.

The city decided to add a second person to West Seattle when people began realizing
that the challenges and issues of the east side of the peninsula were different from the west side.

The area west of 35th is much more developed and defined, he says. The members of the Neighborhood District Council in the 1990s represented the “bigger” interests of the West Seattle Junction Association, the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, and the Admiral and Alki neighborhoods, among others.

Delridge was much less developed and people couldn’t even define where their neighborhoods were, – no big condos, not much development, Angeles said. There were those with visions of what the area could become, but he said those visions were of self-determination. People in Delridge thought their issues were being overshadowed by issues in the western half of West Seattle.

“The issues of Delridge had to do with human services, open space issues,” he says, and people there wanted their own organization.

Ron Angeles grew up in High Point, the son of a Filipino-American family – his father was in the U.S. military defending his home in The Philippines during World War II and his mother from a different part the Philippines. He was born during a blizzard and says his dad wasn’t sure he was going to make it to Virginia Mason Hospital, but all worked out.

He says the rebuilt High Point is “beautiful” but it was a strain for those who lived “for decades” in the old World War II style barracks buildings; he says the Seattle Housing Authority made a “good faith effort” to relocate the people that had to be moved out and many have returned to the new homes there.

When the reconstruction was starting, Angeles says he contacted a friend who was teaching a video class at Chief Sealth High School, Gary Thomsen, and the two of them came up with the idea for the class to do a film titled “The Diaries of High Point,” a series of living-history documentaries for the neighborhood. Angeles also helped Thomsen get a city Department of Neighborhoods grant to pay for the documentary.

“The High Point legacy lives on through this video documentary,” he says.

The family lived at High Point until he was in the fourth grade, then moved to 22nd and Thistle, near Chief Sealth. “That was in 1960, ’61 because I remember I could look down 22nd Avenue and I could see the Space Needle being built,” he said during lunch today at Lee’s Asian Restaurant in The Junction.

When he was about 15, he went to work in the old Seattle P.I. circulation department. “I was a paperboy (but felt) I needed a real job – I was one of the older guys at the paper shack,” he says with a laugh. He got the job and worked for the circulation department doing a variety of jobs in the evenings and on weekends.

“I got to hear people complain about not getting their newspapers,” he says, “and that really helped because if you know how to deal with a person who didn’t get his newspaper, a person screaming at you over the phone, you know how to deal with people.”

After high school at Chief Sealth, he went to Shoreline Community College and “got exposed” to people from North Seattle, “many who became good friends.” Then he transferred to what was then Central Washington State College in Ellensburg to get his B.A. in community health education.

“Going to Ellensburg was like going to another country,” he says with a laugh. “But
I liked it because it is so different from Seattle. Small town, the country and away from
home, but not too far away.”

After his degree he cast around for a “real job” when he heard about the “domestic
Peace Corps,” Vista, and applied and was accepted, and sent to Cleveland for his year of service. That is where he met his wife, a native of Flint, Mich., in Cleveland where he was taking some classes after finishing Vista his national service for the program designed specifically to fight poverty.

“She was doing the same sorts of thing I was doing before I finished my service,” he says. He got a “real job” with the South King County Multi-Service Center in Federal Way. “That is where I decided that the services field is where I wanted to be,” he says.

He managed and oversaw a number of activities, including a food bank and transportation services.

Just after he married his wife in 1979 and about the same time, the then-unemployed Angeles was offered a job as community service representative in southeast Seattle – the Rainier Valley.

He says he still remembers one very tough woman on the panel that interviewed him for the job. She asked a hypothetical question he says, “I really didn’t know the answer of. … I turned the question back on her, by saying I really didn’t know how to deal with that situation, but you will be the first person I come to to deal with it.”

The woman cracked a tiny smile and Angeles says he thought, “I think I have nailed this job.”

He had.
The community celebration for Ron Angeles is 6-8 pm Thursday, February 24th, at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW. It includes a potluck – bring something to share, if you can.

6 Replies to "About to retire, Delridge's Ron Angeles looks back, and ahead"

  • mcbride February 24, 2011 (7:47 am)

    Ron, thanks for everything. Thanks for for your hard work and dedication. Thanks for your insight. Thanks for your personal investment in the community.
    Every good place has had a number of people who’ve made it their business to raise up. Ron has done a lot of heavy lifting for our community. Come down tonight and shake his hand.

  • Alan Robertson February 24, 2011 (9:09 am)

    Ron is not a person that you ever had to go to with your problems, because he took it upon himself to find you. We have been so fortunate to have had him in the neighborhood and I wish him the best!

  • rags February 24, 2011 (11:32 am)

    Ron, wishing you all the best with your future endeavors.Thanks for all the help in the community over the years!

  • Wendy Hughes-Jelen February 24, 2011 (2:35 pm)

    Ron, it’s been great knowing you for the last 12 years. I won’t be able to make it to your gathering since I am showing condos tonight in High Point (yay!), and that’s the only thing that would keep me away – actual work, which I don’t see much of these days. I am sure I will still see you around!

  • chas redmond February 24, 2011 (4:43 pm)

    We’ll run into each other in the usual places, of that I’m sure. It’s been a great run, for you, for the community, and for me – thanks for the thousands of things you’ve done for the betterment of everyone – I’ll be seeing you around.

  • Melinda February 25, 2011 (12:09 am)

    Thanks, Ron, for all you have done for the Delridge community.

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