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Richard Douglas Ford

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Richard Douglas Ford Obituary
Richard Douglas Ford

Richard (Dick) Douglas Ford passed away at the age of 83 on May 5, 2013. He was born on April 11, 1930, in Seattle, WA to Charles E. Ford and Dorothy (McDermont) Ford.

Dick lived most of his youth in Spokane, WA, and graduated from John R. Rodgers High School. He attended Washington State University from 1948-1952, graduating with a B.A. in Political Science. WSU is where Dick met his wife-to-be, Nancy Panchot. They wed on July 12, 1952, and were happily married for nearly 61 years. Dick and Nancy moved to Alexandria, VA, where Dick attended nearby Georgetown University Law School at night and received a law degree in 1955.

While attending Georgetown, Dick worked for the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of the Public Debt, and later the Office of the Secretary. in Washington, D.C. In 1957, he took the position of Assistant Executive Secretary with the Washington State Association of County Commissioners in Olympia, WA. He then worked for the Washington Public Ports Association as its first Executive Director from 1961-1967. Dick went on to be the General Counsel, Deputy General Manager, and Executive Director of the Port of Seattle (1968-1985). After Dick completed his career at the Port of Seattle, he became a partner at the law firm of Preston, Thorgrimson, Ellis and Holman (now K & L Gates). He served as the firm's Managing Partner (1987-1989) and then as its Chairman (1994-2003).

Throughout his career, Dick worked to create and to chair a number of trade organizations, including the Washington Council on International Trade and the Japan America Society of the State of Washington. He tirelessly worked to promote international commerce throughout the world.

Dick's professional, civic and volunteer work has transformed the region and improved our quality of life. Dick served on the boards of a wide range of organizations, including the Washington State Transportation Commission (2002-2012); Premera (1998-2007); the Casey Family Foundation (Chair and Trustee, 1991-2005); Washington State University Foundation (1994-1999); the Growth Strategies Commission (Chair, 1989), and Federal Home Loan Bank (1978-1984). Dick also served as an adjunct professor at the School of Business Administration/School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington (1985-1992).

Dick was a leader and a natural consensus builder. He was the most approachable of people, always willing to listen and to offer suggestions in response to an extensive array of issues. But if a difficult decision needed to be made, he was willing to make the tough calls. Dick was generous with his time and willing to share credit with others. He was a great friend and mentor, and he never took himself too seriously.

Dick loved his family. His family will miss him greatly and in particular remember his positive spirit and his zest for life. Besides his wife Nancy, Dick is survived by their three sons: Kevin and his wife Gerilyn, Seattle; Paul and his wife Dorie, Los Angeles, CA; and Christopher, Seattle; grandsons Skyler and Austin, Seattle; and his brother, Charles (Bud) Ford, Cleveland, OH.

Over the past three years Dick lived with central nervous system lymphoma. The Ford family appreciates the many wonderful doctors, nurses and caregivers at Group Health Cooperative, Virginia Mason Hospital and Fedelta.

Please share memories of Dick on the online guestbook at:


In lieu of flowers, the Ford family suggests that those wishing to honor his memory donate to the charity or organization of their choice or to the WSU Foundation. If the latter, contributors should note in the memo line of the check "in honor of Dick Ford" and mail the contribution to Washington State University, PO Box 641925, Pullman, WA 99164-1925. Or they may contribute online at https://secure.wsu.edu/give/default.aspx, designate the WSU President's Excellence Fund, and note in the comments section that the gift is "in honor of Dick Ford." While the list of honors that Dick received is too long to name, he generously volunteered his time to support WSU. In 1986 Dick was honored with the WSU Alumni Achievement Award, and in 2000 he received the WSU Foundation Outstanding Service Award.

A celebration of Dick's life will be held at the Bell Harbor Conference Center, 2211 Alaska Way in Seattle, on Wednesday, June 5th at 10:00 a.m.
Published in The Seattle Times from May 11 to May 12, 2013
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