Richard Matthew Petrich
Beloved brother, loving father, and faithful friend
Richard Petrich arrived in July 1954, on a summer day in Tacoma with Mt. Rainier to the east, the Olympics to the west, and the beautiful Puget Sound to the north and south. His birthplace would be his beloved home for 67 years and the essential backdrop for his storied life.
His Pacific Northwest roots ran generations deep. The Irish twines of Moores, McDermotts, and Costellos were enhanced by the distinctive Croatian graft of the Petrichs. All told, Richard reflected his ancestry in his love of a good story, a wry joke, the line of a well-built boat, not to mention a deep gratitude for extended kith and kin.
Richard was the grandson of Martin Petrich, Sr., the patriarch of this notable family in Tacoma’s history. Grandfather MA founded Western Boat Building Company, which built and repaired a variety of vessels, including purse seiners, tuna clippers, torpedo retrievers for the US Navy, and tugboats designed specifically for the maritime industries in Alaska. One of these fishing boats, the Western Flyer, has been restored and will return to Monterey Bay this year as a teaching vessel harkening to its history with John Steinbeck and the book The Log from the Sea of Cortez.
Richard grew up on the docks and worked at the shipyard where his father and naval architect, Jim, ran Western Boat. These early experiences fostered a passion for boats and life on Puget Sound. Together, family and many friends shared in his lifelong adventures on and in the water from Fox Island to Roche Harbor. A major player in these cherished memories was his boat Snort, a 26-foot shipyard tug with a Perkins Diesel engine whose cruising speed topped out at a bracing seven knots.
Richard graduated from St. Patrick School, Bellarmine Prep, Western Washington University, and the University of Washington. His was a bright, creative and scholarly mind. Richard was never without projects: building, studying and inventing buoyed by a desire to keep learning about nature, science, history, and law. He was a pioneering and insightful futurist, seeing what was to be before others imagined it.
Richard’s extensive career as a healthcare executive made him the architect of Tacoma’s leading hospital systems, planning and building the network of today’s Multicare-Tacoma General Hospital and Virginia Mason Franciscan Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center.
He was preceded in death by parents, James F. and Helen Costello Petrich, and by his older brother William (Bill). He is survived by his children, Fr. Perry T. Petrich, S.J., Marie Claire Petrich (Trevor), and their mother Lorelei Parong Petrich. Other family members include siblings James Petrich (Jane), Mary Petrich Manning (Jim), Christopher Petrich (Elizabeth), Frank Petrich, and Caroline Petrich (Kirk), as well as numerous nieces and nephews to whom he was devoted. He is also survived by his aunt, Sister Mary Ellen Petrich.
Richard leaves a bevy of beloved Petrich and Costello cousins who share a vast tapestry of treasured memories. In addition Richard cultivated a network of close friends whose association with him went back decades; many of them knew Richard growing up and in college.
All told, none can measure fully the depth of his achievements and the countless ways he reached out to help others in need. Let us celebrate this gifted, witty, eclectic, stubborn, visionary and altogether lovely man. Richard was and will always be special. He had a gift of bringing out the best in everyone and making them feel better about themselves.
The funeral Mass for Richard will be held at 11:30 am, Saturday, May 14 at St. Patrick’s Church in Tacoma. Remembrances can be made in his name to St. Leo’s Food Connection.