97-year-old Senior Center regular’s claim to fame? He had a hand in naming Seahawks
They might have been the Aardvarks, the Chowderheads, the Sourdoughs or the Washington Georges; the Pike Street Misfits, the Queen City Quinaults or the Silver Sasquatches.
But today, thanks to Edmonds resident Leo Kepler’s winning entry in a 1975 name-the-new-team contest, they are the Seahawks.
The 97-year-old Leo Kepler is a difficult guy to pin down. My Edmonds News caught up with him at Edmonds Senior Center between his morning exercise class and lunch.
“I knew the contest was going on, and to be honest, I really didn’t think much about my entries before I sent them in,” Kepler said. “I had three postcards and stopped at the old Aurora Village post office on my way home from work to drop them off. I wrote a name on each, and put them in the mailbox.”
More than 20,000 entries were received, resulting in a pool of more than 1,700 discrete names (check the first paragraph for a random sample). On June 17, 1975 the winner was announced: the new team would be named the Seattle Seahawks. Leo Kepler’s entry was among the more than 150 suggesting that name.
“It took them a while to get back to me,” said Kepler.
Finally in August 1976, he received an official letter, certificate, and commemorative book acknowledging him as one of the namers of Seattle’s football team.
“I was really honored,” he said. “And surprised!”
Kepler lives in the Lake Ballinger neighborhood in the same house he bought in 1958. A former volunteer football and basketball coach, manufacturer’s representative, and professional dance instructor, he’s always on the move. Most days he can be found at the Edmonds Senior Center, where he takes full advantage of the programs offered there.
He never misses the weekly Friday dances.
“They have two bands going, and if you’re sitting down, I’ll ask you to dance!” he exclaimed.
Dancing is in his blood. “For several years my wife and I were professional dance instructors on cruise ships. We did 42-day cruises to the South Pacific coordinating ballroom dances and other events for the passengers,” he said. “And I still can’t stop dancing.”
And we can all be thankful for his spark of inspiration that night in 1975 at the Aurora Village post office when Leo Kepler saved generations of Northwesterners from cheering on….the Seattle Aardvarks?
— Story and photo by Larry Vogel