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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Business, civic leader Wendell Satre, 92, dies

WWP executive helped diversify area’s economy


Wendell Satre, who rose from transmission clerk to become president of the Washington Water Power Co., now Avista, died Friday at the age of 92.

A Post Falls native, Satre played a major role in many of the region’s civic and business initiatives. Those efforts included helping Spokane host the Expo ’74 World’s Fair and the construction of Washington State University’s Spokane campus.

Satre died while under care in a Spokane hospital, family members said.

After earning an engineering degree from the University of Idaho, Satre went to work for Washington Water Power, the region’s main power utility.

He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, then returned to Spokane and resumed his WWP career. In 1965 he became executive vice president, serving the utility’s first president, Kinsey Robinson.

Satre took over as WWP’s second president in 1971 and became chairman in 1975. After a 46-year career at the utility, he retired in 1985.

“He was a 24/7 executive and paid full attention to the business,” said David Clack, an associate of Satre’s and fellow civic activist. “He was also a very fun guy to be around,” Clack said.

Before retiring, Satre also worked to diversify the area economy, Clack said.

“He was instrumental in spinning Itron out of WWP,” Clack said. Itron, a global provider of utility technology, is among the Spokane area’s largest publicly traded companies.

Clack said Satre also helped bring together the people who launched Key Tronic, which in the 1970s became one of the area’s largest employers and still operates.

“It was largely due to Wendell that the economy here developed and grew an electronics-products industry,” Clack added.

His wife, Jessie, lives in Spokane. Two of the couple’s four children, Janet Satre Ahrend and Glen Satre, live in Spokane. Another daughter, Jeanne Kanikeberg, lives in Olympia and son, Clark Satre, lives in Yakima.

No plans for services have been set, Janet Satre Ahrend said.