Longtime Yakima businessman Al DeAtley is being remembered for his philanthropic contributions to Yakima Valley’s institutions.
DeAtley, 85, former CEO of Superior Asphalt, died of a stroke Oct. 21, according to his obituary.
In addition to his business life, DeAtley contributed to a variety of causes, including the University of Washington, the Boy Scouts of America, Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences and the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center.
“The Clore Center would not be here without Al’s contribution, support and advocacy,” said Abbey Cameron, the center’s executive director. “Al really caught our vision for what the Clore Center would be.”
Likewise, DeAtley contributed to the success of Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Terrace Heights, said Ann Hittle, PNWU’s chief financial officer.
“He had quite the business savvy, understanding the concept of philanthropy and supporting local businesses,” Hittle said.
DeAtley’s father founded Superior Asphalt in 1952, and DeAtley joined the business in 1954, acquiring Superior Asphalt in the 1970s, according to a March 2007 article in the Yakima Herald-Republic. The company was sold in 2007 to Granite Construction Inc. of Watsonville, Calif.
One of DeAtley’s business philosophies was to support local businesses and suppliers that helped with his company’s success, according to his obituary. It’s a philosophy that would also drive his philanthropy.
He was a proponent for promoting Washington’s wine industry, which today is second to California in wine production.
“We did not see this boom in wine,” DeAtley said in a July 2003 interview. “We were asleep at the wheel and we had our heads in the sand. The old idea that Yakima is the apple capital of the world is no longer worth the paper it is printed on.”
He spearheaded the Washington Wine Country Consortium, a group that pushed for more wine tourism and economic development in Yakima, Columbia and Walla Walla valleys, the article said. He helped start the nonprofit Washington Wine Country and contributed a half-
million dollars toward the construction of the Clore Center, which serves as an events center, wine tasting room and a place where visitors can learn about Washington agriculture and the wine industry.
“One of the things that was important to him was that talented individuals stay in the Valley, that there be job opportunities in viticulture for people who have talents,” Cameron said.
DeAtley, Cameron said, saw how special Yakima Valley was, and sought ways to support it.
Getting him onboard with the PNWU medical school was a slightly harder sell.
“When they first brought it to me, I thought it was a pipe dream,” DeAtley said in a November 2007 interview with the Yakima Herald-Republic.
But DeAtley’s wife, Pat, was a nurse at the old Yakima Valley Osteopathic Hospital in the 1950s. He gave his support to the effort after the school’s founding doctors were able to attract a significant amount of funding from outside the Yakima area, the interview said. He opened his Scenic Drive home to fundraising events for the school.
DeAtley saw PNWU as a way to make the area more sophisticated and, in turn, make it easier to recruit businesses to come to the area, he said in the interview. The school opened in 2007.
Hittle recalled DeAtley helped the school over one hurdle in its existence. In 2010, the school needed to expand to accommodate a larger class and be financially viable, but it needed a line of credit, Hittle said.
“Al called the banks, got them in the same room and said we need to get a line of credit to make the university happen,” Hittle recalled. The banks agreed to extend the credit, and the university was able to expand, she said, thanks to DeAtley.
“It was pivotal,” she said of the incident, noting that DeAtley saved the day.
Al and Pat DeAtley were named University of Washington “Laureates” in 2004 for their contributions to the school, including $1 million for scholarships given by the hot-mix asphalt industry, a 2004 article said.
He donated the building the Boy Scouts of America uses as its local headquarters, according to Grand Columbia Council staff.
DeAtley was one of three Yakima businessmen to receive the Ted Robertson Community Service Award in 2014.