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Richard "Dick" Stephen Pospahala

March 4, 1942 March 15, 2018
Richard "Dick" Stephen Pospahala
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Obituary for Richard "Dick" Stephen Pospahala

Dick was born to Edwin and Betty (Abernathy), raised and attended the University of Colorado in Boulder. In 1964, a semester shy of a degree in Chemical Engineering & Business, he changed paths to follow his heart. He married his high school sweetheart, Christy Lou Dukes, and moved to Fort Collins, CO. He graduated with honors at CSU with a MS in Wildlife Biology and Statistics in 1969. With 3 week old son, Shad, they moved to Maryland where Dick began his lifelong career with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The birth of their daughter, Paige, soon followed in 1972.

During his 16 years in MD, he served as Branch Chief for Surveys in the Office of Migratory Bird Management, developing an automated database system for the Bird Banding Laboratory and coordinating national and international surveys. In 1985, Dick accepted a new position in Anchorage, Alaska as Regional Migratory Bird Coordinator. Later, as Assistant Regional Director, he wore many hats with oversight of various programs including Subsistence Management, Refuges, Fisheries, and Budget and Administration. Most notable, he helped guide the development of subsistence hunting regulations on Federal Lands, one of the first co-management success stories between Alaska Natives and the Service. His insistence on sound science resulted in a reasoned approach to exploration, development and production of oil and gas resources on Alaska’s North Slope while ensuring conservation and protection. Upon retirement in 2004, he was granted the highest honor of the Department of the Interior, the Distinguished Service Award.

Dick was a complex man. He was passionate about his job and life. As a government employee, he firmly believed he was a servant of the public. Questions and requests ended at his desk as he personally sought results. Growing up hunting and fishing, he was always respectful of and grateful for the beauty and sustenance Mother Earth provided. His leadership on wilderness adventures gave way to the nickname “Trail Boss”. On a riverbank around a campfire, or at a social gathering, he relished sharing stories of adventures with family and friends. Conservationist, scientist, inventor, writer, and mentor were skills he looked forward to passing on to his 4 grandchildren. Sadly, several autoimmune diseases and Alzheimer’s derailed that plan along with retirement dreams. He passed away surrounded by his family at the early age of 76. Along with Christy, wife of 53 years, he leaves behind brother Don (Pat) and sister MaryAnn Hotchkiss (Dwight), son Shad (Kimberly), daughter Paige Williams (Dennis) and grandchildren: James, Chase and Reese Williams of Spokane, WA; and Makena Pospahala of Richmond, VA.

The family is grateful for the loving care Dick received in the Courtyard Memory Care Unit at Rockwood South Hill Retirement Community, and Hospice of Spokane. Suggestions for memorial donations: Hospice of Spokane, Alzheimer's Association, The Conservation Fund or conservation organizations of your choice.

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