Dick Needham of Kooskia passed away Monday, Nov. 26, 2018, at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Wash. due to a compromised aortic heart valve. Dick had just gone into remission from Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that was diagnosed on Feb. 14, 2018 and had been in remission since August 2018.
Born Feb. 28, 1947 in Puyallup, Wash. to Thomas Wylie and Phyllis (Susee) Needham, Dick was the fifth of seven children. Dick was raised in Orting, Wash. and graduated from Orting High School in 1965. His passion was football (a defensive end) and in 1965, OHS won the Washington State Football Championship. He was also an active member of the DeMolay. He loved the outdoors, especially hunting, fishing, hiking, running, and camping.
In 1966 the military draft was still in effect and knowing his draft notice would be coming soon he made the decision to join the United States Navy. He was stationed out of San Diego, Calif. also spending three tours in Vietnam. While in the Navy, he took up boxing and did quite well at it. Dick was honorably discharged in January 1970 and bid farewell to what he called “the canoe club.” During his time in the Navy, he met and married Judy Courll in 1969, having two children, Rich and Natresa. He worked for Robert Shaw Controls in California before moving back to Orting in 1976 when he took a job in Seattle with Pacific Northwest Bell, then AT&T, in 1984. He changed careers in 1986, and worked with property management for Wright Runstad & Company. In 1989, he was approached by Cushman & Wakefield to become the Chief Building Engineer for the new AT&T Gateway Tower Building (which would be the second tallest building in Seattle with 62 floors).
Troy Taylor, Chief Engineer and past employee of Dick’s, said Dick was a pioneer in the engineering field in the greater Seattle area. Dick single handedly changed the way buildings were maintained and set the standards going forward with organizations such as BOMA (Building Owners & Management Association) insuring buildings were being maintained to a standard that Dick would be satisfied with. Dick wrote and developed the Building Equipment Preventative Maintenance Task Book that today is still being used throughout Seattle. Along with these accomplishments, Dick had also produced many of today’s Chief Engineers. When in most instances, just saying you were an employee that had worked for Dick was enough to ensure you would be hired for an engineering position anywhere in Seattle. Though Dick isn’t with us any longer, his legacy lives on with all of his programs and Chief Engineers that he helped get their careers started.
In 2005, Dick started a new job as Director for Prium Companies property management, which had Dick working all over the state of Washington. On Nov. 13, 2007, Dick literally called in to the office to say he was retiring and that he and his wife of seven years, Debbie, were packing up the truck to move to Kooskia.
A great joy of Dick’s was building a 1923 Model T Ford roadster pickup. He would drive it out to his mom’s house and ask if she wanted to go for a ride and out to lunch. She’d bundle up, put her hat on to keep her hair from blowing and smile all the way to their destination and back. He continued to do small things in a big way for others whether they were related to him or not, he was generous to a fault. Dick loved watching the original Star Trek series, boxing, and all of the old westerns that we used to watch growing up thanks to the western channel on TV.
Moving to Kooskia was even nicer since Dick’s sister, Loretta and husband, Victor Schneider, just lived a half mile down the road from the place we bought. Dick and Debbie lived in their doublewide mobile home while their house was being built. Quickly he made friends with the neighbors, the coffee crowd downtown, and it just multiplied from there. He blended in with everyone, young and old, just as if he had lived here all of his life.
He swore that just because we had fields to have horses, we weren’t going to get any…until we did. He went riding up in the hills with friends and family and once even rode Copper to town (seven miles) planning to tie him up to the post and going in to the café for a cup of coffee. That didn’t pan out, a couple of his wife’s girlfriends drove up in truck and horse trailer and told him to get off that horse and that they were taking it riding in the hills with his wife, Debbie. The ladies were so insistent that the tourists were even taking pictures. He gave in when his wife showed up with the car to drive home in. Three years ago he was told about a horse carriage (like they have in New York) that was for sale that had been sitting for 20+ years. So we had new upholstery and a new top done and then bought the 1,750 lb, 18.3 hand Percheron horse to pull the carriage. His goal was to learn to drive the horse in the parades and start a business to provide rides for weddings, proms, and other special occasions. After meeting the goal to learn to drive the horse and carriage from Dale Cooper, he proudly entered the Kamiah BBQ Days parade. Dick also started a little tractor business moving dirt, digging holes, and rototilling gardens, and moving snow in the winter for neighbors.
Dick is survived by his loving wife, Debbie, son Rich (Candy) Needham, daughter Natresa (Barney) Barsness, and daughter Dana (Brian) Hood; grandchildren Alyson and Madisyn Needham, Jacob and Grace Barsness, and Owen and Logan Hood; brothers Rod Morrow (Marcella) and Wayne (Vicki) Needham, and sister Brenda (Mike) Cammer; and many beloved cousins, nieces, and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his father, Thomas Wylie Needham, mother Phyllis Needham; brothers Phil and Chuck Needham, and sister Loretta Schneider.
A celebration of life and potluck will be held on Saturday, Dec. 15, at 2 p.m. at the Kooskia Community Center in City Hall, 26 Main Street, Kooskia.