April 9, 1929 - March 5, 2014 "Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth... danced the skies, put out my hand, and touched the face of God." Richard Fontaine, beloved husband and father, passed away following a brave fight with Parkinson's Disease and Cancer. He was born in Marion, Iowa, to Sherman and Eva Fontaine. His father was a railroad man, frequently away from home, and Richard was raised by his mother, his aunt and his older sister (he learned to appreciate the company of girls at a very young age). He was active in school sports, church and scouting. After graduating from the University of Iowa with an ROTC commission and a B.S. in Science and Nursing, his next step was USAF pilot training. During that time he met his wife of 59 years, Darlene, on a blind date. During their courtship, he would commute by fighter jet from his base in Louisiana to see her in Arizona. She was at his side over a dozen moves from Tennessee to Texas to Taiwan and multiple places in between as he served his country in the Air Force for 27 years. He amassed 4,330 flying hours in 20 different military aircraft, with combat tours in Korea, the Middle East and Vietnam (where he flew 103 combat missions in the F105 Thunderchief). He was a highly decorated fighter pilot, with two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 15 Air Medals, the Meritorious Service Medal and more. Much of his military career was spent as an instructor, both in flight and in the classroom, where he taught Aerospace Physiology and the medical aspects of high-performance flight. In 1974 he was stationed with the Air Defense Command of Taiwan, Republic of China, and was decorated by the Taiwanese Air Force in recognition of his contributions to improving flight safety for both military and civil operations. In 1975, Col. Fontaine was transferred to Fairchild AFB as Command Executive Officer. Upon leaving the USAF in 1978, he served as a Deputy County Clerk for Spokane County and Court Clerk for the Superior Court of Washington State until his retirement in 1992. Richard was a thrifty and talented guy who was a master at repurposing junk. He had an ever-growing collection of "treasures" and could turn them into amazing creations. He loved to putter in his workshop. Richard never met a stranger and enjoyed a vibrant, well-lived life. He was a craftsman, a gardener and a musician; a River Rat, a Daedalian and a Shriner. He had a huge heart, and was an exceptional father and husband. He loved to travel, and his favorite trips were cruises with his fellow Shriners and his wife and daughters. He was a genuine, loving servant, man of honor and shining star to his church, his country, and most of all, his friends and family. He is survived by his wife, Darlene; his daughters and sons-in-law Susan Fontaine and George Corolla, Robin Fontaine and James Dodds; niece Vicki Masella and family; and grandson Austin Dodds. We are all better people for having known Richard Fontaine. "Throw a nickel on the grass." Memorial service at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church (1926 W Chelan Ave, Spokane WA 99205) on March 15, 10 a.m. To sign the online guestbook, please visit www.riplingerfuneralhome.com. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Emmanuel Presbyterian Church (address above), the Shriners Hospital (911 W 5th, Spokane WA 99204), or the
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Riplinger Funeral Home & Crematory - Spokane
4305 N. Division St. Spokane, WA 99207
Published in Spokesman-Review from Mar. 9 to Mar. 10, 2014