John Pariseau made fun a priority for students

John Pariseau worked at the UW for more than 50 years and served as director of intramural sports, where he probably had as much of a positive impact on students as anyone in UW history. He oversaw the IMA building, golf range, Waterfront Activities Center and many fields and courts. Remember the wonderful expansion of the IMA a few years ago? That was his doing. If you ever signed up for an intramural volleyball league or shot hoops or went swimming or learned racquetball or took an aerobics class, you owe a world of thanks to Pariseau, ’60.

The North Dakota native grew up in Kittitas and attended high school in Tonasket, where he was a three-sport star (football, baseball and basketball). He also held the state record in the broad jump that existed for years. His athletic exploits attracted the interest of the Huskies, who recruited him to play basketball. He served as the UW’s starting point guard from 1956 to 1960 and was noted for making a particularly wise decision in a game against Kansas. He was all set to take a charge from 7-foot-1, 275-pound Wilt Chamberlain but thought better of it and moved aside. Pariseau also was a pitcher for the 1959 Husky Hall of Fame baseball team.

After graduating from the University of Washington in 1960, Pariseau went to work on campus offering tennis and golf lessons, working his way up to overseeing the UW’s intramural sports program and the IMA building. He was particularly proud of the IMA’s 100,000-square-foot expansion project in 2001.

He also coached Shoreline Community College’s men’s basketball team before joining his brother to start the Brewster Packing AAU Club team, which won five national titles. He coached at the 1995 Pan-American Games and served as the AAU national president of men’s basketball for many years.

Pariseau died Aug. 19 at the age of 84.