Warren Bishop, state’s first budget director, dies at 92
Warren Bishop served as Washington state’s first budget director and, at the same time, as Gov. Albert Rosellini’s chief of staff.
Seattle Times staff reporter
When Warren Bishop first joined former Gov. Albert Rosellini’s administration, he was so unknown in Olympia that an assistant in the governor’s office declined to let him in.
But the affable academic, then on leave from the University of Washington, made himself known soon enough. Just two years later, in 1958, he became the state’s first budget director, helping to transition state government from an ad hoc collection of agencies to a more coordinated and modern shape.
“You can’t overstate the importance of that position at that time,” said Rosellini’s successor, former Gov. Dan Evans, who tried unsuccessfully to retain Mr. Bishop despite belonging to the opposite political party of his predecessor.
Mr. Bishop, a World War II veteran who went on to be a vice president at Washington State University, died Oct. 27 in the capital of the state he served for decades. He was 92.
His life will be celebrated at 1 p.m. Sunday at Panorama, a retirement community at 1751 Panorama Circle Lane S.E., in Lacey, Thurston County.
Born in a Colorado homestead during a blizzard, Mr. Bishop graduated in a high-school class of nine and attended then-Northern Colorado State Teachers College before being drafted.
He served in the 29th Infantry Division, participating in the taking of Omaha Beach and the liberation of Paris, and earning a battlefield commission and Bronze Star.
Mr. Bishop returned to finish his degree and subsequently fell in love with a classmate and fellow veteran, Barbara Jean Fries, whom he married in 1947.
The couple moved to Washington state, where Mr. Bishop taught high-school history and political science in Yakima before enrolling in graduate school at the UW and eventually winning a research position on the faculty there.
In the early 1950s, Mr. Bishop served on the Edmonds City Council.
But it came as a “great surprise” when Rosellini’s team called, Mr. Bishop later told a state historian.
As Rosellini’s chief of staff, he helped push a bill to move state budget preparation from individual agencies to a newly created Central Budget Agency reporting to the governor’s office (now called the Office of Financial Management). Mr. Bishop volunteered to serve as the office’s first director while maintaining his duties as chief of staff.
Meanwhile, he and his wife had three daughters between 1953 and 1958.
The oldest, Claire Bishop, now of Seattle, said her father instilled in the family a love of public service.
“He had, I think, equal love for both his family and his profession, and so frequently the two things merged,” said the daughter, who recalled that after she had grown up and her father had became a vice president at WSU, they occasionally found themselves testifying on opposites sides of issues in Olympia.
Mr. Bishop worked at WSU between 1965 and 1979 before moving to Harstine Island, Mason County, and starting a government-affairs consulting business.
He also received 20 gubernatorial appointments from seven governors and served all the way until last year.
In addition to his eldest daughter, Mr. Bishop is survived by his wife Barbara, daughters Julia Hulbert, of Olympia, and Ellen Conroy, of Seattle, and four grandchildren.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Washington State Parks Foundation, P.O. Box 891, Olympia, WA 98507 or wspf.org.
Brian M. Rosenthal: 206-464-3195 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @brianmrosenthal