Pleas, Riley W.
(1926 – 2008)
Born in Covina, California on June 16, 1926, Riley William Pleas was raised in Olympia, Washington. After grammar school, he and his brother were selected for officer training in the US Navy V-12 program. Following service in the US Navy, he studied architecture at the University of Michigan. It was there that he met his future wife, nursing student Nancy Seay. Riley and Nancy married on September 14, 1946 in Ann Arbor. They moved to Seattle in 1947 to raise a family.
After moving to Seattle, Pleas continued his studies at the University of Washington while working for the Strand Construction Company. It is unknown whether he received a formal degree from the University of Washington, but in 1948 he took a job as a draftsman for Mallis & Dehart Architects (1948-1950). With valuable experience in hand, Pleas decided to open his own construction firm in Seattle in 1950.
Over the course of the next 40 years his company, Riley Pleas Inc., built a variety of notable projects scattered across Washington, Oregon, Montana, California, and Alaska. His projects range from schools to apartment complexes, to large infrastructure works. Known projects include a remodel of Lowell School (1959); the Pacific Architect & Builder Office (1959); Northgate Clinic of Group Heath (1958); the Villa Capri Apartments (1960); and the Four Season Apartments (1966) all in Seattle. Outside of the city projects include the F.W. Woolworth Store (1954) in Renton; the J. C. Penny Building (1955) in Renton; Pinehurst Elementary School (1958); Montlake Terrace Elementary School (1958); Renton Village Shopping Center (1963); and the Wells Dam (1966) in Bridgeport, OR.
Over the course of his career he worked with a variety of architects including Albert O. Bumgardner, Paul H. Kirk and the firms of Dudley & Ekness, and Cuykendall, Illes & Blean. In the late 1960s, Pleas expanded his business interest to serve as a developer as well as builder. Under HUD’s Turnkey Program he developed several high-rise projects for the King County and Seattle Housing Authority. These projects include Olive Ridge (1968), Cedarville House (1970), International Terrace (1971), Cedarville Village (1971), and Southridge House (1970). He also developed the Mutiny Sands (1960s) area of Whidbey Island.
After turning over the construction business to his three sons, Pleas acquired the Isaacson Steel Service Center (1983), which to-this-day is still owned by members of family and operates under the name Seaport Steel.
Pleas passed away on June 15, 2008.
– Michael C Houser