A Celebration of Life
We honor and celebrate the life of Donald Thomas Dudley, a beloved father and friend, who passed away May 2, 2022, at Queen Anne Healthcare in Seattle, Washington.
Don was born February 28, 1935, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Chester and Ruth Peters Dudley. His older brother Sherman (Sonny) Dudley passed away at an early age when Don was 2 years old. After graduating from South Hills High School in 1953, Don went on to study music and business at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Don and his high school sweetheart and first wife, moved to Tacoma WA, where he worked for the Army at Fort Lewis. He loved the Pacific NW and convinced his parents to move from Pittsburgh to Seattle.
Don was a leader, minister, vocalist, and wonderful orator. He held several management positions throughout his career including the Executive Director of the Seattle Office of Social Human Services and the Executive Director of Volunteers of America Delaware Valley. Don was ordained at Mount Zion Baptist Church by his dear friend, Rev Dr Samuel Berry McKinney. He received several awards and served on numerous boards including an appointment by Governor Dan Evans to the Social and Health Advisory Committee.
In Seattle, Don is best known as the owner of the first Black owned radio station in Seattle, KYAC, “Soul of the Pacific Northwest”. KYAC broadcasted from 1965 to 1981 with a focus on playing music by African American artists. Initially, KYAC was owned by King Broadcasting who also owned Seattle Magazine where Don was the Business and Advertising Manager. In 1969, the Black employees, led by Frank P Barrow, went on strike against King to protest the low pay and poor treatment. Don was asked to step in and help settle the dispute. He successfully negotiated most of the employees’ demands and was offered the position of General Manger of KYAC. Don accepted that position and after a few years, negotiated an option to buy the station. In 1971, Don secured a group of investors and purchased KYAC, becoming one of only seven Black radio station owners out of 8,000 in the US and the first independently run Black owned station on the West coast.
Don was invited and testified before Congress on the importance of Black ownership in the communication industry to provide African Americans the work experience needed for employment at major networks such as ABC, NBC, or CBS. Under Don Dudley’s ownership, KYAC grew from an AM daytime only radio station to a 24-hour radio station broadcasting on AM and FM.
KYAC became the heart of the black community, supporting inclusion and radio programs for all. Don always said, that KYAC’s positive impact was due to incredible employees, such as Frank P Barrow, Pat Wright, Veltry Johnson, and Robert L Scott, to name just a few.
Don was a life-time member of the NAACP and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He is survived by his children, Terri Taylor Segars, Donald Taylor, Michele Dudley Evans, Chester Ogiale Dudley, Laura Ogiale Dudley, Donald Ogiale Dudley, and Stella Ogiale Dudley. He also leaves behind loving grandchildren, great grandchildren, cousins, and friends.
A Memorial Service will be held:
Saturday, May 21, 2022, at 11:00 am PDT
Holgate Street Church of Christ
2600 Holgate Street (across from the Tennis Center)