Longtime federal forester and firefighter Dick Leferink died Friday, Jan. 6 in Spokane hospital after a nearly three-year struggle with cancer. He was 59. He was born March 7, 1952, at Fairchild Air Force Base.
Dick spent his professional career managing forests for the White Mountain Apache Tribe in eastern Arizona and the Colville Confederated Tribes of northeastern Washington. Dick was with the Colvilles from October 1981 until his retirement in 2007, managing the 360,000 acres on the Inchelium District.
His summers were consumed with fighting forest fires across much of the western United States.
During breaks in the warm-weather months and after his retirement, Dick often could be found sailing Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake near his Ferry County home.
Among his passions in winter was skiing in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. He and his family were regulars at the 49 Degrees North ski area near Chewelah.
He was a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving four years in explosive ordnance disposal at Fort Campbell, KY., after enlisting in October 1970 and completing boot camp at Fort Leonard Wood, MO.
After the Army, Dick attended the University of Tennessee, graduating in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry. He was an avid follower of Volunteers’ football and women’s basketball.
Dick was a 1970 graduate of Gwinn High School in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula, where he met his wife, the former Jill Connors. Dick and Jill were married in June 1972 in Gwinn.
No funeral or memorial service was planned and the family requests that any memorial contributions go to Habitat for Humanity or the American Cancer Society.
Dick was preceded in death by his daughter, Lee, who was three days short of her 22nd birthday when she died of cancer in 2003; and by his mother, Anna Marie Leferink, who died in 1997.
In addition to his wife Jill, Dick is survived by his daughter, RayLyn; his father, Albert Leferink, Benbrook, Texas; his brothers, David and Tom, Arlington, Texas, and by his sister, Laurie, Houston Texas.