“Figure it out” was one of Les Dow’s favorite and most impactful sayings when he was coaching players on the baseball diamond, according to Erin Dow, his wife of 32 years.
Baseball was the game of his life, reads a Facebook page for Les, who passed away Aug. 22 after a short battle with an unknown type of lung cancer. He turned 80 in April.
“He battled till the last out, as he had done his entire life,” reads the obituary that Erin wrote for Les. The two were longtime Redmond residents, each with three children from previous marriages.
“We called ourselves ‘The Brady Bunch,’” Erin, 79, said. The family, which nearly filled an entire baseball lineup, also lived in Bellevue for a time.
During his illustrious baseball career — much of it spent on the fields of Redmond’s Hartman Park — Les owned, managed and coached the Dow Baseball Club for 31 years, winning three World Series titles and guiding his team to a World Series somewhere in the nation virtually every year, the obituary reads. Dow Baseball was home to 1,380 young men, 250 of whom later played college ball, many were drafted and 12 earned spots on Major League Baseball rosters. Many ex-Dow players followed in Les’s footsteps and became coaches.
“All he asked of his players was that they do their individual best,” Erin said. “He never believed he was teaching them just about baseball. He believed he was teaching life stuff as well.”
Erin added that Les instilled in players that having a good attitude on the diamond could make an impact on how they handled themselves on and off the field in the present and in the future.
“I don’t know many other men that had such an impact on so many lives,” reads one Facebook comment.
Another commenter noted that Les and fellow coach Randy Gifford were instrumental in her son’s positive experience at Dow Baseball: “Two of the best baseball years and two of the best coaches ever…So sorry for your loss Erin and the Dow family…Thank you for sharing Les with us. God bless you all.”
The Western Washington Baseball Umpires Association tweeted that they lost a great man, coach, father and friend who will be missed.
Overall, Les spent 46 years as a coach, sponsor and administrator and filled many vital roles in those capacities for Redmond Little League and the Redmond Baseball Association, for which he penned “The Book,” the original rule book. He also designed, financed and helped build the RBA concession stand and donated the dirt and equipment to complete the two final Hartman Park Little League fields.
Les notched many accolades over the years, including RLL Adult Little Leaguer of the Year (1980), City of Redmond Park and Recreation Person of the Year (2010) and the NW Baseball Umpires Association Customer of the Year (2006). This month, the umpires association will recognize Les with a Lifetime Customer Appreciation Award.
Les was born into a baseball family as his mother, Clara, won more than 200 games as a prolific teen pitcher for the Worland (Wyoming) Squaws, which tallied five state championships. On the football front, Les won state championships with Worland squads in eighth grade through high school, and at Casper Junior College, he played basketball and wrestled.
Away from the sports fields, Les thrived in the business of building homes and light commercial properties on the Eastside. He developed and built one of the first condominium projects in Redmond, Gull-Val, and his homes were featured in the Seattle Times four times as Homes of the Week/Month.
Former Redmond resident Connie Kress worked with Les for 30 years and was controller of his Triple D Construction company in Bellevue.
“When you go to work there, you’re told you’re joining the family. And that was really the case,” Kress said. “He was as much a mentor and a teacher as he was an employer. A lot of us that worked there felt that way.”
Kress added that one of Les’s many mottoes was “just do the right thing,” and therefore, she noted, “you never have to worry about anybody questioning it.”
The Dow family has grown to now include 11 grandchildren, with one great-grandchild on the way.
Erin said that Les was very hands-on with his grandchildren and played an active role in their lives.
“We never missed a game,” she said, noting that in June, the couple attended a piano recital in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and then drove to Spokane the same day to watch a fastpitch softball game. “I can’t believe we didn’t get a speeding ticket.”
Les’s granddaughter Tatum Dow, 20, played Dow Baseball until she was 14 and is now the shortstop for the Bellevue College softball squad.
Always the coach, Erin said that Les was in contact with BC skipper Leah Francis, who said that Les was proud of Tatum and she “has the emails to prove it.”
A memorial celebration is planned for 10 a.m. Oct. 13 at Timberlake Church, 4505 236th Ave. N.E. in Redmond, with a reception to follow at the church.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in memory of Lester A. Dow to:
• Bellevue College Softball www.bellevuecollege.edu/foundation/softball or by mail,
BC Softball, 3000 Landerholm Circle SE, Bellevue, WA 98007 or
• Redmond North Little League www.rnll.org > League Members > Donations & Fundraisers or
• Redmond West Little League, 7241 185th Ave NE #273, Redmond, WA 98073-0273 or
• The Northwest Baseball Umpires Association, PO Box 26934, Federal Way, WA 98093-3934