Civic leader Don Persson passes away

Persson served the residents of Renton for 53 years as a police officer and city council member.

Don Persson, whose public service to the residents of Renton spanned 53 years as a police officer and city council member, passed away Monday.

“Don’s commitment to Renton was a hallmark of his character,” said Renton Mayor Armondo Pavone, who served six years with Mr. Persson on the city council. “There are very few lives not touched by his efforts. Our community will forever be a better place because of Don’s service.”

Mr. Persson served with the Renton Police Department for 33 years. His experience patrolling the streets led him to become a valued member of the council’s Transportation Committee and as a member of several regional transportation committees.

“Don’s legacy will be felt for many years to come at Renton Police Department,” said Jon Schuldt, the department’s interim chief. “In his 33 years of service to the city as an officer, he set the standard for ‘service before self.’ He represented true leadership: respectful, humble, and principled, balancing the community’s needs with those who serve. He was always there as a mentor with words of encouragement and guidance.”

Throughout his 20-year career on Renton City Council, Mr. Persson demonstrated a unique ability to find solutions acceptable to his colleagues while not compromising his principles. His particular interest and acumen concerned the city’s finances. His skills as a police interrogator showed in his probing questions and ability to flush out uncertainties and soft spending projections. He retired from the council in December 2019.

“It was an honor to serve with Don for his 20 years on the council,” said Randy Corman, the current city council president. “He would do anything to help the community, and his optimism for the people of Renton was inspiring to all of us.”

Mr. Persson served the community in many other ways. He was one of the founders of Renton River Days, was a member of the Communities In Schools board, and provided food and other supplies to REACH’s Center of Hope. For 26 years, he was the driving force behind the city’s annual Thanksgiving dinner for seniors at Renton Senior Activity Center. In addition, Mr. Persson gave his time, money and considerable culinary skills to many neighborhood picnics, community events, employee recognition lunches and more.

Funeral arrangements are pending.