Saint Martin's College icon Art Acuff dies

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Lacey - Art Acuff, 87, an athletic director, coach and teacher at Saint Martin’s from 1955 to 1982, died of cancer Sept. 15, 2003, at his home in Lacey.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 812 Bowker St. SE, Lacey. A reception follows at Huber’s Gasthaus, 2312 Friendly Grove Road NE. The family suggests memorial gifts to Saint Martin’s College, c/o Office of Development, 5300 Pacific Ave., Lacey WA 98503.

Acuff served as Saint Martin’s athletic director from 1970 until his retirement in 1982. He coached basketball, baseball, tennis and track, achieving a shining win-loss record, and taught education, physical education and American history courses. He also served the College as chairman of the department of physical education and as dean of students. After his “retirement,” he was a major supporter of Saint Martin’s athletes. He also continued to teach at Saint Martin’s for another decade.

But what most who knew Acuff remembers about him was his concern for students and his endless willingness to help them. His dedication to their character development went hand-in-hand with teaching them sound athletic and academic skills.

“Art is viewed as an icon of dedication to Saint Martin’s,” said College President David Spangler, Ph.D. ”His commitment to the College reflected a true belief in the Benedictine spirit of community. He served decades of students as a coach, mentor and friend. His love of our institution showed in the involvement of his entire family, who over the years have attended, supported and respected his College. While Art did not attend Saint Martin’s as did most of his family, he certainly attended to it.”

When he retired, the City of Lacey declared Feb. 12, 1982, as Art Acuff Day and many dignitaries wrote letters of praise.

Calling him “almost as much an institution in the community” as Saint Martin’s itself, then-Washington Gov. John Spellman noted in his letter that Acuff’s efforts to mold the character of thousands of young people over the years were well-known and deeply appreciated.

Acuff was never far from Saint Martin’s in spirit or in act. He rarely missed a game or sporting event, Homecoming or other college activities. In 1992, he was honored with the naming of a new fitness center in Saint Martin’s Pavilion. In 2001, he was chosen for membership in Saint Martin’s Athletic Hall of Honor.

Acuff graduated from the University of Idaho with a degree in education and earned his master’s degree in physical education from what is now Central Washington University.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Mildred “Millie” Stanton Acuff in June 2003, and by his children Kathleen and Dennis. He is survived by his children Arthur B. “Art,” a graduate of Saint Martin’s High School, of Spokane; Kevin, a 1985 Saint Martin’s College graduate, Olympia; Brian, also a 1985 graduate, Lacey; Diane, a 1986 Saint Martin’s graduate, Lacey; Maureen, a 1976 Saint Martin’s graduate, Tenino; and Angie, a 1989 Saint Martin’s graduate, Lacey. Numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews also survive him.

Services: 11 a.m. Saturday, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Lacey
Reception following: Huber’s Gasthaus, 2312 Friendly Grove Road NE
Memorials: The family suggests memorial gifts to Saint Martin’s College, c/o Office of Development, 5300 Pacific Ave., Lacey WA 98503.

For more information:
Deanna Partlow
Media coordinator / senior editor
360-438-4541 or dpartlow@stmartin.edu