Statement on the death of Steve Excell, former Assistant Secretary of State and State Archivist

OLYMPIA — Former Assistant Secretary of State Steve Excell, who served as the Washington State Archivist for nearly a decade and was chief of staff to former Governor John Spellman, died Wednesday at age 74.

“My thoughts are with Steve’s loved ones,” Secretary of State Steve Hobbs said. “His legacy of public service and dedication to preserving Washington’s history will reverberate for generations.”

Excell, who retired from the Office of Secretary of State in 2021, was a champion of the pioneering Digital Archives project. His other major accomplishments for the Office of Secretary of State included supervising the Washington State Archives, Washington State Library, and the Legacy Oral History Project.

A 1976 Georgetown Law School graduate, Excell served on the staffs of Gov. Spellman and U.S. Representative Joel Pritchard before joining the staff of former Secretary of State Sam Reed upon his 2000 election. As Assistant Secretary of State, Excell fought to keep the Washington State Library, the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library, and the Legacy Washington oral history program operational despite funding shortfalls.

“Steve helped us save these institutions that host programs essential to the lives of thousands of Washingtonians,” Reed said.

Excell’s successor as State Archivist, Heather Hirotaka, said Excell’s legacy is strong in many aspects of Washington’s preservation institutions.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of his passing,” Hirotaka said. “Steve’s indelible contributions to state government will be remembered forever.”

Washington’s Office of the Secretary of State oversees areas within state government including managing state elections, registering corporations and charities, and governing the use of the state flag and state seal. The office also operates the State Archives and the State Library, documents extraordinary stories in Washington’s history through Legacy Washington, and administers the Combined Fund Drive for charitable giving by state employees and the Productivity Board state employee suggestion program to provide incentives for efficiency improvements. The Secretary of State also oversees the state’s Address Confidentiality Program to help protect survivors of crime.