Louis V. Larsen passed away on March 27 at the age of 99. Louis was NMTA’s executive vice-president from 1972 – 1984 and left an indelible mark on NMTA in many ways. He signed the first lease for NMTA at the Kingdome and laid the foundation for modern indoor boat shows here in Seattle and across the United States. After moving from the Coliseum to the newly-constructed Kingdome and its then 128,000 square feet of display space, the show became one of the biggest boat shows in the country. (In the final year at the Kingdome in 1999, the show had 192,000 square feet of display space.) In the mid 1970s, Louis also signed the first NMTA office lease at Mariner’s Square, where we remain to this day. Additionally, on his watch, our iconic Seattle Boat Show jingle was developed.

With Louis at the helm, attendance at the boat shows grew, and so did the Association’s financial resources. The $109,000 in reserves that greeted him when he arrived on the job had grown to over $1 million when he left 12 years later. Membership had grown from approximately 250 members to over 1,000 members.

Louis also had a knack for promotions and knew how to make a splash and create buzzworthy events. Before coming to NMTA, he was director of marketing and promotion for the Seattle Center and director of special events for the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962. He brought that experience and flair to NMTA.

In one memorable promotion he hired Captain A. Merica Jones to dive from a platform high above the Kingdome floor into a tank filled with live piranhas. All went well until the fourth night when he hit his head on the side of the pool, delaying his exit a few seconds allowing the 22 piranhas to start eating the captain. He emerged with eight bites, one which required 50 stitches. As he left for Harborview he quipped, “That’ll really bring ‘em in tomorrow night.” And it did. He returned to dive on subsequent nights, adding a rattlesnake to the pool, drawing huge crowds in the process. In another promotion, kids who attended the show were given free goldfish. However, some of the kids flushed the fish down the toilets, where they played havoc with the Kingdome plumbing.

A Celebration of Life is scheduled for May 7 at 11:30 a.m. at the Edmonds Yacht Club and all are welcome.

The family has set up a GoFundMe to help with the expense of the memorial should any members wish to donate.

Fair winds and following seas, Louis.

Louis Larsen signs a 5-year Kingdome contract with Ted Bowsfield, Kingdome manager.