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Richard Thomassen

April 22, 1929 June 7, 2017
Richard Thomassen
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Obituary for Richard Thomassen

Richard (Dick) Thomassen – husband, daddy, grandfather (papa / popi), great-papa, teacher, craftsman, Marine, friend – died peacefully Wednesday June 7, 2017. He just wore out. He is survived by his wife Ruth, of 66 years, 3 children; David (Karen), Julie Jones (Dwelley) and Susan Jauhiainen (Eric), 6 grandchildren, 6 great grandchildren, his brother Bob and wife Audrey and many friends whose lives he touched in many different ways.
Dick was born in Omaha, Nebraska on April 22, 1929 to Raymond and Betty Thomassen. When he was 9, the family moved to Fort Collins, Colorado. In 8th grade he met his sweetheart, Ruth. They graduated from high school in 1947. Dick and Ruth graduated from college in 1951 and were married the following day. Dick attended the University of Colorado on a Naval ROTC scholarship, graduated as a commissioned officer in the Marines and served in the Korean War. He received a PhD in Applied Mathematics and taught mathematics and computer science at the University of Colorado, Washington State University and Whitman College.
Dick retired from Whitman College in 1996, having served as Chairman of the Math Department, Director of the “3-2” engineering program with Columbia University and Chair of the Faculty. In the early days of computer development, he was part of a national team doing special calculations for NASA. Dick was also the consummate craftsman - whether building a rabbit hutch, playhouses for the granddaughters or simply refinishing a book shelf – everything was always perfectly square and very smooth due to his apprenticeship with a cabinet maker when he was in high school. As a member of Walla Walla’s First Congregational Church, Dick was a greeter, usher, Financial Secretary and active member of church committees.
Dick and Ruth were well known in the community for their daily walks around Walla Walla. They were regulars at Walla Walla Symphony concerts and all local theater productions. Dick enjoyed playing games with his family and going camping and hiking. Spending quality time with his grandchildren brought him much joy, whether playing dress up or refinishing a piece of furniture. Helping Ruth with her projects was a major part of his life.
A service celebrating Dick’s life will be held at a future date at Walla Walla’s First Congregational Church. Our family wishes to thank Dr. Michael Wilcox and those at Park Manor who befriended Dick and helped with his care. People wishing to make donations in Dick’s memory can give to a charity of their choice or to one of Dick’s favorite charities – the First Congregational Church of Walla Walla, St. Judes Children’s Hospital or Christian Aid of Walla Walla. Donations can be made through Mountain View-Colonial DeWitt Funeral Home 1551 The Dalles Military Road, Walla Walla, WA 99362. Friends and family may share memories and sign our online guestbook at

Memorial Contribution

First Congregational Church

73 S. Palouse Street
Walla Walla, WA 99362

Christian Aid Center

St. Jude Children's Hospital


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