ESPN.com is closing its Seattle editorial office, striking yet another blow to the once-promising Seattle web-content industry. The sports-news site (one of the first websites to charge money for "premium" content) was one of the sites started by Paul Allen's Starwave company and later sold to Disney (which had already bought the ESPN cable channels). While the site bore ESPN's name and carried columns by ESPN commentators, the bulk of its content was written and edited in Seattle. Many of ESPN.com's 50 Seattle employees will be invited to move to a new New York office or to the ESPN channel's Bristol, CT headquarters.

Elliot Marple, 93, was one of Seattle's ultimate insider's insiders. His fortnightly, subscription-only Marple's Business Newsletter, which he started in 1947 and sold in 1980, covered regional commercial and economic trends in a more analytical and conversational manner than could be found in the rehashed-press-release content of the daily papers' business sections at the time. He was also a longtime local freelancer for Business Week and other national business mags. Marple died December 17 at his Mercer Island home.

Immunex Corp., for 20 years the leading force in Seattle's biotechnology industry, is being absorbed by the California-based Amgen, pending regulatory approval. Its main existing drugs are Enbrel (for arthritis) and Leukine (for chemotherapy patients). Amgen was able to pick up Immunex at a less-than-premium price of $16 billion because Immunex's current top shareholder, American Home Products (makers of Anacin and Advil), had to raise money quickly to pay legal settlements relating to AHP's now-banned diet drug fen-phen. Amgen insists it will keep most of Immunex's operations intact and in Seattle (including its role in an Interbay office-park project); outside analysts predict at least some layoffs as management functions move south.

Mary Jane Narver, 67, led the University of Washington's Institute for Public Policy and Management, and was also a longtime civic activist. She was a board member for the Seattle Public Library and worked with the National Civic League, Urban School Reform Board, and numerous other groups. Narver died December 8 from a stroke.

Freddie Mae Hurd Gautier, 71, was a Seattle civil rights pioneer. She started the local branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and worked for many years with the NAACP, Central Area Motivation Program, Odessa Brown Children's Clinic, the Washington Commission for African Americans, and many other organizations. For "day jobs," she worked in city and county government, managed a mortuary, and owned concessions at Sea-Tac Airport and the Washington State Convention Center. Gautier died December 14 from Alzheimer's complications.