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Whoops: Seattle mayor sends correction after mourning activist who wasn't dead

UW instructor and former Seattle Department of Neighborhoods head Jim Diers is very much alive, despite an erroneous statement by Mayor Ed Murray he had died. (UW photo)

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the rumors of Jim Diers' death have been greatly exaggerated. The saying comes to mind after Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's office sent out a statement mourning the death of the former head of the Department of Neighborhoods. Just one problem - Diers isn't dead.

In the statement, Murray said: "I'm very saddened by the death of Jim Diers. He was an innovator in bringing communities together and made a significant contribution to the foundation that makes Seattle special. His work with neighborhoods was passionate and progressive. His service to this city was unmeasurable. My thoughts go out to the Diers family. He will be missed."

But about 30 minutes later, Murray's office sent out another statement making clear Diers hadn't died.

"The Mayor's office was mistakenly informed of the death of Jim Diers. He is alive and well."

A check of Diers' Facebook page shows he is indeed alive and well, recently posting several photos in the past week from Ontario, Canada.

We've reached out to Diers for comment, but the University of Washington professor, neighborhood activist and author was too busy living to respond. He did, however, post the following statement on his Facebook page:

"I'm getting inundated with messages asking if I am alive. Apparently, the mayor issued a press release mourning my death. I genuinely appreciate the mayor's concern, but I want to assure you that I am very much alive.

I returned from work in Ontario at 1:00 this morning, participated in a conference call at 6:00 a.m., gave a talk in Tacoma, and am now preparing to teach my class at the UW tonight. I'm dead tired today, but otherwise, I'm feeling great! Thanks, everyone, for your concern but I really don't have any time for death."

The mayor's office has not responded to requests for comment. Seemingly his staff confused Diers with Joe Dear, the former head of the Washington State Investment Board and past Chief of Staff for Washington State Governor Gary Locke, who died Wednesday of prostate cancer at the age of 62.

About the Author


Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter/anchor and host of KIRO Radio's Seattle Sounds (Sunday afternoons 5-6p) and a digital content producer for MyNorthwest.com.

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