Husband, Dad, Papa and Grandpa - all of these were our names for Richard "Dick" Eller, recently of Phoenix, AZ and formerly of Spokane, WA, who sadly passed away early Monday morning. He was 81.
Dick was born in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and grew up in Spokane, Washington. The eldest of three, he was hard working, adventuresome, and dreamed of flight, something he achieved as a Navigator in the US Air Force, flying B-52 bombers during the Vietnam war.
He met his wife of 59 years, Roberta "Bobbi" Reed, on the campus of Washington State University (go, Cougs!) in Pullman. He proposed after their first date; she declined, but over the next year Dick won her over with his kindness and attention, so when he tried again a year later, she said yes.
Eventually Dick and Bobbi settled in Spokane, where they made their home for 26 years.
After the Air Force, Dick spent years working to find a career he could flourish in. He was an excellent salesman, working with his Dad, Doug, at the Eller Motors car lot and other sales jobs, Dick's people skills and dramatic abilities allowed him to find connections and help people feel welcome.
Decades later when he went back to school to get a Master's in Education, he finally found his passion: teaching. Once Dick got his Master's Degree, he found he was making better money selling cable TV for Cox Communications than he would as a public school teacher. Soon, Cox made him their first ever corporate trainer. He educated members of Cox's leadership and customer service teams nationwide, eventually semi-retiring to Arizona with Bobbi to continue working for Cox a a consultant.
A lifelong learner, he enjoyed reading and facing new intellectual challenges. He completed his Masters in Organizational Management at age 60. He was the resident advisor on all things financial, sports, electrical, or car related. Dick could fix anything, tackle any problem, and always shared great advice. A very supportive father, our dad unfailingly supported us through listening, asking questions, sharing financial support, and giving the gift of his time. He would build a bookcase with you, guide you in proper power tool use, learn a swing dance to perform at a wedding, or drive cross country with you to get you safely to college.
Dick was active in community theater both on stage and behind the scenes, as the president of the Spokane Civic Theater. His talents were bountiful. On stage, Dick could act, sing and dance; off stage, he could paint, fix a broken toilet, and change a poopy diaper! He loved being a grandpa. "Papa Dick" would put on a silly hat and dance around to get a giggle out of a toddler, or learn how to play the X-Box to bond with a sullen pre-teen. He was an excellent pitcher for the Temple Beth Shalom softball team, and taught his daughters to dribble a basketball and hit a softball. In the woods at the lake house Dick taught us to drive on the old Jeep, how to cut down a tree with a chainsaw, and find huckleberries in the forest. Dick always loved to travel, taking us on many fun family road trips around the west. In his retirement years, he enjoyed visiting his kids and grandkids, and family trips to Mexico were a special treat. But his favorite spot in the universe remained the family lake place on Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho. Summers were spent hiking in the woods, eating apple dumplings, playing canasta, stargazing, cutting down trees, driving up steep shale mountain roads, and cooling off with a dip in the lake at the end of the day. Dick loved putting in a hard day's work around the property and rewarding himself with good food, good company and the beautiful surroundings of Northern Idaho.
Dick warmed the hearts of many in his long life as a friend and teacher. He was the son of Ora (née Dryden) and Doug Eller, and is remembered by wife Bobbi, daughters Michelle and Suzanna, sons in law Jeff and Aron, grandchildren Ben, Lilah and Noah, and siblings Donna and Ray.
He will be missed.