11/04/2014 3:06PM

Herman Sarkowsky, owner of champion Phone Chatter, dies


Herman Sarkowsky, who owned champion Phone Chatter and Grade 1 stakes winners Dixie Chatter and Dixie Union, died Sunday after an illness, the family announced.

Sarkowsky was 89. He was a pillar in the sports community in the Northwest, part of the ownership that founded the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. Sarkowsky was the general partner of the Seahawks from 1975 to 1982.

In racing, Sarkowsky was best known for the success of Phone Chatter, the champion 3-year-old filly of 1993; Dixie Chatter, winner of the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita in 2007; and Dixie Union, winner of the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes in 2000. Dixie Union, co-owned by Gerald Ford, won 7 of 12 starts and earned $1,233,190.

Phone Chatter won 5 of 15 starts and earned $838,742 in a career highlighted by a win in the 1993 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. She was trained by Richard Mandella, who trained for Sarkowsky for 35 years.

Sarkowsky was part of the investment group that built Emerald Downs, outside of Seattle.

“The horses gave my dad an enormous amount of pleasure,” his daughter Cathy Sarkowsky said Tuesday. “It was really a lot of fun for him.”

Born in Germany in 1925, Sarkowsky immigrated with his family to the United States in 1934. In business, he was best known for his success in home and commercial construction in the Pacific Northwest and was an early investor in Starbucks. He was active in the Seattle arts community through organizations such as the Seattle Symphony and Seattle Arts Museum.

Services are scheduled for Thursday in Seattle.