Seattle pioneer descendant Brewster Denny passed away this past Saturday from natural causes. He was 88 years old. Denny spent much of his life as a champion of local history, and for many, he was a living embodiment of Seattle’s pioneer era.
Denny’s ancestors, including his great-grandfather Arthur Denny, landed in what’s now West Seattle in November 1851. That group, known as The Denny Party, is considered the founders of Seattle.
Denny never met his great-grandfather, but he knew other members of the Denny Party. It’s almost hard to believe, but until Brewster Denny passed away, the history of the city of Seattle spanned less than two lifetimes.
Brewster Denny took his role as a pioneer descendant seriously. In an interview at a 2001 event commemorating the 150th anniversary of the landing of the Denny Party, Denny talked about the importance of sharing the history of Seattle.
“I regard it as a responsibility. The honor of this great story, and, you know, it's America. It's a fabulous story and I'm privileged to know a little more about it because I belong to those people,” said Denny.
For David Brewster, Seattle Weekly and Town Hall founder, Denny’s passing marks a significant milestone in how the still young city comes to terms with its remarkably short history.
“That sense of continuity is definitely broken, and I suppose the death of Brewster Denny is a kind of curtain coming down on our understanding of the past,” said Brewster.