“I know the food is good where I am going!” Richard “Dick” Hans Hempler age 81 passed away peacefully with his wife Nancy and other family by his side on April 4, 2019. Dick was born on August 19, 1937 to German Immigrants Hans and Emmy Hempler. Born and raised in Bellingham, WA Dick graduated Bellingham High School in 1955 and attended Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA with initial plans to join the Seminary. After leaving PLU and residing and working in Seattle for a brief time Dick returned to Bellingham in 1962 where he settled to start a family and go to work full time for his dad at what was then BB Meats & Sausage. In 1972 Dick bought out his dad’s business partner and began the slow and steady process of growing the business. Many people will still fondly remember the retail deli that was located at the bottom of F Street until it was closed to focus solely on wholesale in the mid 80’s. After rebranding to Hempler’s Food Group LLC and with business steadily increasing through the 90’s it was becoming painfully clear that the original building built in 1896 could no longer support the trajectory of the company. In 2005 Hempler’s Foods along with Premium Brands, an investor group, relocated the business to Ferndale, WA. Dick once said when asked about his legacy and the company’s success: “Be honest. Take care of your customers, take care of your employees. Know your product and know what it costs. Never give up. Don’t quit.” Dick did not just speak these words this is the way he lived his life. In 1981 Dick attended a community dance where he met Nancy, “love at first site” he would say. Dick and Nancy were married the following year and enjoyed a beautiful 37 years of marriage together. Raised Lutheran Christian it was a bit later in life that he dove head first into his faith and truly started to walk in the path of Jesus. Both he and Nancy have been very active members of Sunrise Baptist Church now for many years. Dick was very proud to be an Eagle Scout, he would give credit to his mother for that. He was also a member of the National Guard for several years. He was also the recipient of many awards in the business community and served on several organizational boards. He had a passion and hunger for not only sharing his knowledge with others but also for learning everything he could about things he didn’t know. In 2004 Dick was nominated as Whatcom County Business person of the Year, in 2011 he was honored with the Whatcom County Life Time Achievement Award and in 2017 Hempler’s Food Groups was voted Best Large Business by the Whatcom Chamber of Commerce. Everyone who knew Dick well would know that he would not want us to go on and on and we could! Let’s just say that Dick was a man with a very generous heart who always offered a big strong hand up to anyone who needed it. He was a beacon of integrity, he dearly loved the Lord, his family, his friends, and community. He is survived by his wife Nancy, his children Kestin (Marc), Steven, and Susan, their mother Sarah Sessions, Stepchildren Scott and Ann (Larry), six BELOVED grandchildren, and three nieces. He was preceded in death by his parents Emmy and Hans Hempler and his sister Katherine Parker. Memorial Services will be held Saturday April 13, 2019 at 2:00 PM Ferndale Events Center 5715 Barrett Rd. Ferndale, WA 98248. Private burial. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be sent to The Lighthouse Mission P.O. Box 548 Bellingham, WA 98227.
Published by Bellingham Herald from Apr. 10 to Apr. 12, 2019.