Gregory Robert Gleason, engineer and long-time West Seattle resident, passed away peacefully surrounded by family and friends on December 18, 2020 after an unexpected illness. Greg’s grit, passion for the outdoors, and love for his wife were inspirational to his friends, family and caregivers. Greg’s courage in his final months was illustrated throughout his life. Greg is survived by his wife of 23 years, Signe Franzen, his parents Bob and Norma Gleason, and his sister Ann Gleason. He is predeceased by his younger sister Lisette Gleason.
His close friends and family suspected, when he saved all his berry picking money to purchase a giant telescope at age 14 in cloudy Olympia, Washington, that he was destined for an interesting future in science or engineering. Greg was born December 27, 1961 in Ballard, Washington to Robert and Norma Gleason (Coles). He attended Olympia High School, graduating in 1980 and later received a BS in Materials Science Engineering from Western Washington University. After college Greg was hired as an engineer with the Boeing Company where he worked for 31 years, retiring in 2016. He specialized at Boeing in composite research and helped transform Boeing passenger jets from aluminum to lighter-weight carbon fiber. Greg obtained several patents for unique applications of composite materials during his career at Boeing. His efforts there took him around the world. Commuting by bicycle in his final years, Greg was determined to stay fit and save fuel. He preferred hiking on rocks and snow to walking across parking lots.
Greg loved being in the mountains, be it skiing, hiking, climbing or backpacking. Both Greg and his wife were active in the Boeing Alpine climbing club and met in the introductory climbing class. The two went on to later teach that class and other climbing classes. They became the 42nd “person” to climb the Bulger’s list of the 100 highest peaks in the state and the first couple to have climbed all of them together by simultaneously stepping on the summit of the final peak. They did so much together. Greg cherished his wife, and being a kind morning-person, he always started his day by making Signe a latte and bringing it to her in bed. In the mountains he delivered coffee to her in the tent.
Greg and Signe travelled frequently both internationally and nationally. They climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro for their honeymoon. They bicycled in Sweden, Quebec and the Czech Republic, kayaked in the Sea of Cortez, and trekked in Nepal. They traveled extensively in their home country too, including visiting Signe’s family in Montana, South Dakota and Missouri, and his family in Edgewood and Puyallup. They canoed and camped in the Everglades, hiked the 211 mile John Muir Trail in California, climbed to the top of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, and backpacked in the Grand Canyon.
Greg also was an amateur sailor and an avid back-country skier. Earlier in life he pursued SCUBA diving, canoeing, and backpacking. Some might be surprised to know that in his teens and 20’s he was active in road-rally navigation, automobile modification, water skiing and motorcycling. He also loved just tinkering with cars and motorcycles and engines, and he kept busy with numerous house and garden projects.
Greg was always a generous and curious person. He was passionate about history, science and technology and was a voracious reader of non-fiction. Shortly after retiring he began expanding his volunteer activities, including tutoring youth in the Highland neighborhood of South Seattle. His most satisfying volunteer effort (besides tutoring) was building a Tiny House to help house the homeless.
A celebration of Greg’s life will be held at a date and place to be announced later.
In lieu of flowers please consider a gift to the NW Kidney Centers, or to the charity or volunteer organization of your choice.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Gregory R. Gleason, please visit our floral store.