Some people say Clyde “Chic” Sale was a quiet man who liked to let his officiating speak for itself.
His family defines him in a different way.
“He was kind of a tall, stoic individual that didn’t talk a lot,” said Sale’s oldest son, Alan. “But we jokingly used the E.F. Hutton analogy that when my dad spoke, everybody listened.”
Sale, a noted athlete, educator, coach and official from Spokane Valley, died Monday at 86 after a year-long battle with cancer.
“He got pneumonia in December, then he seemed to be doing OK, then he went downhill in a hurry the last 3-4 weeks,” Alan said.
The family celebrated Sale’s life Friday afternoon at Hennessey Valley Funeral Home with an overflowing crowd of about 250, Alan said. Many remembered him from his 52 years (1950-2002) as a football official.
Two executive directors praised Sale in emails to the family.
“Chic and I had many good discussions about officiating and the (Washington Officials Association),” Mike Colbrese of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association wrote. “He was the official’s official.”
“Chic was a good man who really cared for all,” wrote Dave Tikker of the Washington Secondary School Athletic Administrators Association. “We all experienced his leadership and wisdom some time in our careers.”
Sale was born Oct. 7, 1927, in The Dalles, Ore. His family moved to the area in 1929 when his father, also named Clyde, was hired as a policeman in Opportunity.
Friends started calling the younger Clyde “Chic” to differentiate him from his father. The family doesn’t know if the nickname came from the popular American actor/vaudevillian (1885-1936) of the same name.
Sale graduated from Central Valley in 1945 after helping the Bears qualify for state basketball tourneys in 1944 and ’45. He also competed in football and track.
His 1945-46 Eastern Washington College basketball team finished 31-4 and reached the final eight of the NAIA tournament. The team was inducted into Eastern Washington University’s Hall of Fame in 2003.
“One thing that caught my eye was that he was a member of 17 halls of fame,” said Jon Heimbigner, former Spokane Regional Sports Commission Board member and Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame chairman. … “That’s amazing.”
Sale spent two years in the U.S. Army before returning to EWC to earn his degree in education. He began his teaching/coaching career in Rosalia, where he met his future wife, Noreen.
Sale taught and coached at Greenacres and Bowdish junior highs from 1952 until his retirement in 1984. But “retirement” was a relative term for Sale, who continued on as middle school activities coordinator until 2006.
Sale’s highlight of a 22-year career as a college football official was working the 1982 Rose Bowl between Washington and Iowa.
He is survived by his wife, children Alan, Lori, Jeff and Dena, 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.