Businessman Keith Grinstein known for his humor
Keith Grinstein was such a ubiquitous Seattle business figure that it often seemed as if he knew everyone. Longtime friend Nick Hanauer...
Seattle Times business reporter
Keith Grinstein was such a ubiquitous Seattle business figure that it often seemed as if he knew everyone. Longtime friend Nick Hanauer, with whom he started the Seattle venture-capital fund Second Avenue Partners, called Mr. Grinstein "a walking Rolodex."
"He loved to talk and tell jokes — and he may have been the funniest guy in Seattle," Hanauer said. "There isn't anyone in business in Seattle who doesn't know Keith. He was just everywhere."
Mr. Grinstein died unexpectedly Sunday (Sept. 28) of an undisclosed cause. He was 48.
Mr. Grinstein grew up in a prominent Seattle family. His father, Gerald Grinstein, is a former CEO of Burlington Northern and Delta Air Lines. His mother, Rosalie Alhadeff, is part of the family that created the Longacres horse-racing track in Renton.
Keith Grinstein, a 1978 graduate of Seattle's Lakeside School, earned a bachelor's degree from Yale University and a law degree from Georgetown.
He worked as a lawyer in New York and Washington, D.C., before returning to Seattle in the late 1980s to join McCaw Cellular Communications (later AT&T Wireless Services). He was CEO of Nextel International from 1996 to 1999.
Most recently, Mr. Grinstein was chairman of Coinstar, a Bellevue-based operator of coin-counting machines, as well as a director of Seattle technology company F5 Networks and Tacoma-based staffing agency TrueBlue.
Friends and business associates said Monday they were struggling to cope with the news of his sudden death.
"I'm kind of in shock still," said Rick Yoder, owner of the Wild Ginger restaurant in downtown Seattle, where Mr. Grinstein was both an investor and regular patron. "He had an incredible sense of humor. No matter what the situation was, he could always find the light side."
For Mr. Grinstein's 40th birthday, Second Avenue filmed a 10-minute video featuring short interviews with local business people.
"Everybody said, 'Yeah, I know Keith Grinstein — he's my best friend,' " Hanauer recalled. "He was beloved by many, many people."
Mr. Grinstein enjoyed traveling and flying several small airplanes that he owned.
Among his survivors are his wife, Claire, his parents and his brother, Charles.
A memorial service will be at 12:30 p.m. Monday (Oct. 6) at Temple De Hirsch Sinai, 1511 East Pike St., Seattle.
Donations may be made in Mr. Grinstein's memory to the Humane Society of Seattle-King County, 16495 N.E. 74th St., Redmond, WA 98052, or another charity.
Seattle Times researcher David Turim contributed to this story.
Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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