On January 28, 2014 Dwight L. Lechner, with family by his side, chose Washington's "Death with Dignity" option to end his life after a prolonged battle with cancer. Born in Burlington WA on December 5, 1926 to Leslie A. and Mary Gladys Lechner, Dwight lived most of his life in Everett before moving to Port Townsend in 2008 to the dream house he designed and built for his wife, Ann, who unfortunately passed away before the home was completed. Dwight and Ann met at Dwight's dad's law office and business college, where Ann worked as a secretary. They married in 1951. Prior to his marriage, Dwight served in the U.S. Navy during WWII. He spent time in China and was steaming towards Tokyo just as the war ended. After his Honorable Discharge, he worked in the Puget Sound area on a tugboat, as a logger and as a commercial fisherman. In 1952, a friend changed the course of Dwight's life by convincing him to take the Firefighters Exam. After passing the exam Dwight would spend the next forty one years as an Everett Firefighter. Firefighting was not just a job for Dwight; it became his passion. Everett was still a mill town back then. Dwight fought several large mill fires during his time on the department. Being a member of the department was more than just fighting fires. He and Ann loved the many social activities within the department, and considered his fellow firemen and spouses their second family. Dwight retired from the EFD in 1993 as a Battalion Chief. He remained lifelong friends with many of his fellow firefighters. Dwight was bright, curious and energetic. While serving as a firefighter and raising a family, he found time to take classes and earn his Bachelor's Degree at the University of Washington, where he also did some graduate work. Dwight was an avid reader and adventurer. He bought an airplane and became a private pilot. He was very proud of earning his Instruments Rating on his license. When he satisfied that boyhood dream, he went on to the next one and purchased a sailboat and learned to navigate the waters of Puget Sound. Later he became a Master Gardener and put this knowledge to use while landscaping his house on Rucker. Dwight never gave up his pursuit of knowledge and new experiences, even in his last years. Surviving Dwight are his son, Mick Gifford and his wife, Mary; son, Ken Lechner and his wife, Dale Barron; and his daughter, Leslie Salemi and her husband, John. The family gives our most heartfelt thank you to Leslie for flying out from her home in Michigan to stay with Dad in his last months, which allowed him to finish his life at home. Also surviving Dwight are his grandchildren Kimberly and Kevin Kraft, Joe and Keith Gifford and Alex and Libby Salemi. He also leaves behind his unofficial son, Joe Kraft, who was a true friend and always there for him. Preceding him in death was his daughter, Diane Kraft; and his sister, Bonny Joan Oestreicher. While Dwight wanted no formal ceremony to commemorate his death, an informal gathering of friends and family will be held in Everett at a future date to celebrate his life. Donations in Dwight's memory can be made to Hospice Care.
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Published in The Herald (Everett) from Feb. 15 to Feb. 16, 2014