Don Richard LaCombe was born on April 11, 1947 to Donald and Inez LaCombe in Seattle, Washington. He attended school at Highline High School in Seattle and graduated with honors from the University of Washington with a bachelor degree in communications/journalism. On March 21, 1981 he married Linda Gatch, Don and Linda made their home in Seattle, as well as Phoenix, Arizona and Richmond, Virginia, before returning to Seattle and later retiring to Olympia.
He worked in television for well over 43 years. His first job came at 19, working the switchboard at KING. Nine months later he got the opportunity to be a floor director working on all the shows he used to watch from home. Don’s career includes production manager roles at KING, KOMO and KCTS. At KING, he assembled the staff and created local programming that led the station to receiving the Gabriel award for outstanding television station in the US three years in a row, from 1981 to 1983. Under his direction, the station received numerous national awards for children’s and public affairs programming, including the George Foster Peabody award for the long running weekly series How come?
When KING built its current studios, Don designed the production facilities that to this day, allow the station to host successful local and national programs. Don also played a key role in developing the concept, and overseeing construction of Fisher Plaza for KOMO, a $100 million investment to create the modern and flexible digital facility.
Don also helped lead the way toward HD broadcasting in production, as a speaker at national forums and producer of videos showing the advantages of HDTV. During his tenure at KOMO, Don guided the effort to bring in significant new revenue to the station by introducing KOMO Production Services, and helping to revitalize Fischer Pathways. In two years at KCTS, Don doubled the local programming produced at the station. Don’s longest lasting legacy however, may be the hiring and mentoring many of today’s leaders in production and station management around the country with a special emphasis on recruiting and developing women and minorities.
Don was also received multiple Regional Emmy Awards over the span of his career and was inducted into the NATAS Northwest Chapter’s Silver Circle Society in 2010. During his time, he has given to the industry, he served as past president of the Northwest and Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapters of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and as a Trustee on the national board. He also volunteered with other community organizations over the years, including serving as chairman of the youth commission in Richmond, Virginia. He also served as a Director, Producer and Media Consultant for his own company, LaCombe and Associates beginning in 2011.
He enjoyed the role of coach and mentor and was so pleased at the successes of the people he worked with in TV. He, also, loved football, he was a Seahawks fan, but primarily a fan of the sport itself. Don really enjoyed traveling, he and Linda were able to explore every continent during their life together. Don passed away at age 72 on December 17, 2019 in Seattle.