Richard Lee (Dick) Aitkins, 84, of Port Ludlow, WA passed away Saturday (11/28/2020) at Harrison Hospital in Bremerton, WA, after a short bout with sepsis and pneumonia as a result of primary myelofibrosis, which he had been battling for the last couple of years. He was a talented, kind, loving, generous, and caring man who loved and supported his family and will be greatly missed by all of them, his numerous friends, and many in the community.
Dick was born in Seattle, WA, on March 2, 1936, to Alfred (Al) and Helen (Stine) Aitkins. He began his school years at Bryant Elementary and graduated from Lincoln High School in Seattle. He was a reserve member of the Air National Guard, then went on to Flight Engineering School where he became an airline mechanic and flight engineer flying air cargo with Flying Tiger.
It was in the airline industry that he met and fell in love with his first wife, Bettie – he was working on airplanes and driving a sporty Triumph TR3, and she was a ticket agent for United Airlines. That fancy little car and the handsome driver caught her eye and she asked for a ride home – the rest is history! They married at the Queen Anne Baptist Church on May 16, 1959 and settled into their first home in Seattle. He and Bettie had five children together, Kimberly Ann; Richard Lee, jr.; Stephen Micah (Christine); James David (Jennifer); and Timothy Allen (Veronica).
Dick had a varied and fascinating work life. In the early 1960’s he moved on from the airline industry to work for Tally Corporation, a printer and punch-tape company. He would frequently bring home piles of discarded punch tape to provide hours of fun and entertainment for the kids. From the mid 60’s to the late 70’s he was a senior pastor first for a church in the Fort Worth, TX area, and then back in Washington state for churches in Tacoma and Olympia. He led his congregations as a humble servant-leader with a passion for loving people, teaching, and giving generously of himself. He and Bettie cultivated many deep and lifelong friendships and had many opportunities to travel and share their faith. Following his ministry years, he returned to his engineering roots, working for Boeing as an aviation systems instructor. This led to more opportunities to travel the world sharing his wealth of knowledge and talent for teaching, even to places such as South America and the Middle East (Iraq). After his wife, Bettie, passed away in 2010, Dick finished his work career as a Help and Training Author for iShip Inc., a subsidiary of UPS, from which he retired in 2011.
One of his favorite sayings was, “Anything worth doing is worth doing right”, and he embraced life with a ‘Little Engine That Could’ attitude: “I think I can, I think I can” which he passed on to all of his five children. He and Bettie worked hard to instill in their children the values that guided their lives, values of kindness, integrity, forgiveness, generosity, grace, strength, and perseverance. The idea that doing everything in a way that honors others and builds up relationships was paramount in the way that they lived their lives and raised their children to adulthood.
Dick enjoyed a number of different interests and activities outside of work. He always loved to keep fit and healthy through exercise and good food choices. As a teen and young adult, he was a semi-professional figure skater in the Seattle area. As a parent he coached many of the boys’ sporting activities, and he always enjoyed a good game of racquetball or pickle ball. Using his early mechanical engineering skills, he built or rebuilt a few of his own cars over the years. He also built two of the family’s homes, one in Puyallup, and one in Winthrop intended for his and Bettie’s retirement years. He owned a U.S. Patent for a home-electronics safety device he invented for which he was deservedly very proud. He climbed Mt. Rainier twice: up to Camp Muir in 1978; and summited in 1979. He also had a great love and passion for music and singing. He was a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society, performing with Northwest Sound Men’s Chorus for several decades, and competing and placing in numerous Barbershop singing competitions. He also used his creative technical talents to produce their show programs for many years.
In 2012 he met and married his current wife Gayle (King), adding her three adult children Ronda (Glen), Vance (Sherry), and Shadd (Leticia) to the family. The two of them moved to Port Ludlow where he quickly became involved in community activities there. Continuing to be an avid pickle ball player, he joined in community games several times a week to keep fit and active. He also got involved in local community theater, appearing in a number of productions with the Port Ludlow Players, and also in several plays with the Jewel Box Theater in Poulsbo.
Dick leaves behind his loving wife Gayle Aitkins; five children and three stepchildren and their spouses; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his two brothers, D. Bruce Aitkins of Lynden, WA and James E. Aitkins of Meridian, ID, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Al Aitkins and Helen Aitkins, and his first wife Bettie, of fifty years.
To all of his family, Dick was a wonderful example of a what a godly husband and father could be, and he set that bar high. In a conversation with his brother, Jim, he once said, “I just want to be considered an honorable man.” He certainly accomplished that goal and will be sorely missed by all of his family, numerous friends, and many in the community who worked with him and enjoyed his humor, talents, and generosity. His family will continue to do all they can in the lives to make him proud.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Richard (Dick) Lee Aitkins, please visit our floral store.