Richard Joseph Lange was born in Max, N.D., on June 21, 1930 to Joseph and Bertha Lange. Richard had a peaceful passing on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020 surrounded by many family members at The Hospice House in Kennewick, Wash. after a long life lived to the fullest in every way.
Richard and his family moved to Oak Harbor, Wash., when he was 6 years old to escape thefarming droughts of North Dakota and start a life with more opportunity and prosperity.
This was the start of Richard’s influence on a community that lasted nearly six decades.
Young Richard had a very successful athletic career in Oak Harbor, participating in varsity football, basketball and baseball. He was captain of all those teams and graduated in 1948 with an intense desire to better his family and to give back to his community.
Richard had an entrepreneurial spirit at an early age and through his school years raised chickens and sold eggs for spending money. After graduating from high school, Richard had stints as a plumber and a carpenter. He quickly realized he wanted to start a company to reap the benefits of his efforts. He soon started building homes with a family friend. Not long after, he decided he wanted to build commercial buildings, so he and Johnny Parkhurst started Parkhurst and Lange General Contractors. This company did many projects in Oak Harbor, NAS Whidbey, and surrounding areas up until Johnny’s untimely death in 1980. At this point most of the community referred to the firm as P & L General Contractors, and thus the new name was born and continued up until Richard sold the company to a long time employee (Ron Wallin) in 1993. The firm has continued to flourish over the years and still is a vital employer/philanthropist in the area to this day. P & L has built churches, community swimming pools, airstrips, office buildings, banks and schools. The last project P & L did under Rich’s leadership was a new elementary school in Oak Harbor. At one point while driving through town he proudly proclaimed, “I’ve either built or remodeled every building in this town”.
This is what Richard did, but this wasn’t what Richard was mainly concerned with as life went on. He was about family. He married his high school sweetheart Wanda in 1950 who was the “Turkey Festival Queen” in the prior year before getting married. Richard was very proud of his beautiful bride. They went on to have five kids: Steve, Garry, Sandy, Ron and Michele. All of the kids graduated from Oak Harbor High School, just like he and Wanda.
All the kids went on to get college degrees and have successful careers on their own. He was proud to say I had a kid in college from 1971-1990, and sometimes two kids at the same time!
Richard was heavily involved in the community of Oak Harbor and gave generously to those in need with his contributions and the efforts of his company. He was a long-time member of the Rotary Club of Oak Harbor and Whidbey Golf and Country Club giving generously of his time and money to both. If the community needed help, he was there with his resources. In the early 2000s the community was raising private money to build a new football stadium.
Richard quietly donated money to the cause and was told he had contributed the largest amount by any individual contributor. He was generous and committed and his influence on the community of Oak Harbor was significant.
After Ron Wallin bought Rich’s company in 1993, Rich and Wanda decided to spend more time in their beautiful condo in Mauna Lani, Hawaii and pursue their love of sports by buying a condo right next to the Kingdome. Rich and Wanda could walk to the Seahawk and Mariner games. They were closer to their kids and closer to their teams. The pull of Hawaii and new friends eventually dominated their time until Wanda passed away in 2004.
Hawaii had a profound impact on Rich and Wanda and they embraced the culture, including the sports teams. Rich and Wanda became big fans of baseball, football and volleyball teams for the Rainbow Warriors.
After Wanda’s passing, Rich continued to live near the Kingdome and eventually sold the Hawaii condo. The next phase was to build a beautiful house for family get togethers at Suncadia in Cle Elum, Wash. The house had to be big enough for extended family get togethers.
The home was where the family enjoyed many good times until 2012. Life was about having fun and family, and this house served that purpose.
Rich, needing a little extra help, moved to Kennewick to live with his daughter Michele and her family. The love and support of Michele, her husband Larry, grandsons Nolan, Ty, young Christopher and his daughter Sandy were wonderful years for Rich until God called him home.
Rich’s impact on his family and the people around him were significant. Rich Lange was one of a kind. We are certain his efforts and generosity will be felt for many generations in the future. Richard would often say “Wakka Wakka” when something good happened.
He is survived by his five children: son, Steve and his wife, Jeannie Lange, of Port Orchard, Wash.; son, Garr, and his wife, Rene Lange, of Reno, Nev; daughter, Sandy Lange, of Kennewick, Wash; son, Ron, and wife, Suzette Lange, of Snoqualmie, Wash.; daughter, Michele, and husband, Larry Earley, of Kennewick, Wash.
Rich is survived by grandchildren, Nolan Earley, Ty Earley, Christopher Earley, RJ Lange, Renee Fisher, Shawn Lange, Ryan Lange, Brett Lange, Kirra Sharpe, Haley Lange, Joshua Lange and Noah Lange.
Rich is also survived by his brother, Bernard Lange, and his great grandchildren, Lydia Lange, Georgia Lange, Austin Fisher and Grayson Fisher.
He was preceded in death by his father, Joseph Lange; mother, Bertha Lange; sisters, Helen Eerkes and Sally Bernhardt; and great granddaughter, Lily Lange.
A Celebration of Life will be planned in the coming months in Oak Harbor, Wash. at Whidbey Golf Club. In lieu of flowers, the family requests charitable contributions be made to the Oak Harbor Rotary Club or Oak Harbor High School Athletic Program. Wildcat Booster Club, Oak Harbor High School Athletic Office, P.O. Box 2312, Oak Harbor, Wa. 98277, 360-279-5850.