Family says beloved member of Seattle's Leschi community died from coronavirus

SEATTLE - Seattle’s Leschi neighborhood is in shock after coronavirus impacts a beloved community leader. The family of Steve Shulman, longtime owner of Leschi Market, said he died Wednesday evening from COVID-19.

Shulman is considered a pillar in Leschi community. Customers and neighbors stopped by his store to pay their respects as a memorial grew near the front entrance in his honor. So many people were hurt by the sudden loss, but found joy remembering his legacy and commitment to public service.

“He’s the centerpiece of this community, of this little Leschi neighborhood,” said Jane Powers, who has been a customer for at least 20 years.

The neighborhood is shaken by coronavirus concerns hitting closer to home.

“It’s hard to fathom right now at this point,” said Paul Kulik, who has been a customer since 1995. “It’s already wreaked quite a bit of havoc. So, it’s a serious thing.”

For many people in the Leschi neighborhood, they said they won’t let COVID-19 define Shulman.

“He kept us all together and he was friendly and outgoing and just really invested in all of us and providing for all of us,” said Powers.

Yousef Shulman said his uncle died from coronavirus Wednesday evening. The nephew and business partner said it started when Shulman had a bad fall at home last week. He was taken to Harborview Medical Center for treatment.

“They had to take X-rays, see what was going on and they found a spot on his lung. So, the protocol was to test and it ended up coming back positive for COVID-19,” said Yousef.

It was a shocking diagnosis since his family said Shulman wasn’t showing any symptoms of the virus. Yousef, now the sole owner of Leschi Market said the store recently reopened after it was temporarily closed for a deep clean and sanitization while Shulman stayed at the hospital in quarantine.

“By Sunday morning, he was placed in the ICU. By Sunday evening, he was placed on a ventilator. And they thought he was going to make it—there was a good prognosis on Tuesday. But unfortunately, by Wednesday he took a turn for the worse,” said Yousef.

Instead of thinking about the worst, customers are showing support for family and staff who remember him at his best.

“It’s comforting to know that so many people care about myself and the business and the family. We’re a family here at the store,” said Yousef.”

He was a man whose commitment to the community went beyond his passions as a butcher and store owner. Shulman was involved in several community organizations like the Seattle Neighborhood group, and he co-founded the Seattle Police Foundation. Yousef said his uncle even ran for political office once.

“He’s known mayors and council members, and senators and governors. So many people knew him and sought advice and the community knew him and sought advice,” said Yousef.

Community members said Shulman’s death makes them much more aware about COVID-19. His family is encouraging people to understand how serious the virus is and to follow precautionary measures.

Though community members said they are having a hard time believing the sudden loss, they know one thing will remain true—Shulman’s legacy.

“We’re so lucky that somebody was willing to invest so much in the community and be a part because not everybody has the stamina or the means to take on a little grocery store,” said Powers.

Something Yousef said he will always remember about his uncle was his passion.

“To do what is right for the community, to open your heart for the community and don’t do it for the recognition. Just do it because it’s the right thing to do,” said Yousef.