Painting a Legacy: The Birth and Unveiling of the 1984 Championship Mural at Olympia High School
The exterior wall of Olympia High School's weight room is now home to a very significant art mural. A richly detailed mural, brimming with colors and memories, stands as a homage to an important chapter in Olympia High School's history – the 1984 Class 2-A State Football Championship. The mural not only celebrates the historic victory played at the Seattle Kingdome but also pays tribute to a beloved figure in the school's history, the late Robert (Bob) L. "Coach" Dunn, who passed away on August 5, 2016.
Located next to the bus drop-off zone, this mural will be seen by many as they walk or drive between the gym and Ingersoll Stadium. Its location will ensure the legacy lives on in the minds of all who pass by.
The idea for the mural traces back to a conversation between Andrew Taber, '87, and his friend, Kevin McNamara, '85, who recalled a newspaper clipping in The Daily Olympian highlighting the 1984 championship win that galvanized the entire community. Inspired by their conversation, Andrew sought out the article, found it on microfiche, and shared it on Facebook. The overwhelming positive responses from OHS alumni ignited Andrew's idea of commemorating this shared memory in the form of a mural at OHS.
Andrew then embarked on a mural fundraising campaign targeted at OHS classes of '82-'88 alumni. Andrew worked closely with Olympia High School Alumni Association President Charlie Kirry to create the mailing list, and this collaboration was crucial in raising the needed funds. Some of the contributors either wrote notes or called Andrew to share their personal stories as to how Coach Dunn impacted their lives in such a positive way. The school, recognizing the significance of the project, also extended its full cooperation. OHS Athletic Director Bob Kickner was also a key supporter of the project.
The mural was brought to life by artist Thomas Sutley, son of OHS '87 alumna Joanne Sutley. Assisted by fellow artist Irisa Kennedy, Sutley and Kennedy spent three long days transforming the wall into a completed work of art on June 30, 2023. On July 4th, 2023, a celebration of the mural's completion was held at the Taber Ranch, attended by many OHS alumni.
Coach Dunn, the man leading the victorious 1984 team, is an essential part of the mural's story. An honored coach, dedicated teacher, and a devoted family man, Dunn's contributions to OHS started in 1968 and continue to be remembered fondly. He balanced his roles as a business department leader, head football coach, and assistant track coach seamlessly. His practical teachings in the classroom and his guidance on the football field left a lasting impact on countless students. His crowning achievement was leading the Bears to the Class 2-A Washington State Championship in 1984, a victory that earned him the honor of Washington State Coach of the Year.
Now, the mural stands as a visual testament to Coach Dunn's enduring influence and the triumphant 1984 season. His appreciation for individual and team goal-setting, and the countless examples of unity, strength, and determination that Coach Dunn personified, will no doubt inspire future generations of OHS students. It's more than just a tribute to a cherished coach and a historic victory; it's a constant reminder of the power of community, shared memories, and an unforgettable legacy.
Andrew has been kind enough to share with us some of the memorabilia he's kept throughout the years relating to this historic event. See below for some of these examples. From all of us who have been fortunate enough to call Olympia High School our alma mater, we thank Andrew from the bottom of our hearts for having this vision and making it a reality for all of us to enjoy. Go Bears!