Richard (Dick) Howland Close, 75, died on Wednesday, February 24, 2016, at his home on Cox Bay, Tofino, BC. He was born in Seattle, Washington, to Donald W. and Ruth Mary Close on September 7, 1940.
He was an Eagle Scout and proud of that early accomplishment. Dick was a member of the first graduating class of Mercer Island High School(1958) where he lettered in football and basketball.
Growing up on a lake, Dick enjoyed being on the water and throughout his life loved owning and operating his own boats. Following high school, he attended Olympic Jr. College, began his bar tending “career”, and became an accomplished sky diver before moving to Hawaii in 1960. In Hawaii Dick began his long career as a businessman by working his way up from the position of apprentice electrician to becoming an electrical contractor and Vice President of his father’s company, Mid-Pac Electric, Inc. In 1980 he started Close Electric, Inc. which specialized in civil engineering electrical projects.
He eventually purchased his father’s company, Mid-Pac Electric, Inc., where he continued as CEO for many years as an electrical contractor throughout Hawaii and the American Pacific Islands. Mid-Pac Electric, Inc. successfully completed the H Power generation project in Hawaii and a similar project in the Philippines in 1988. In his spare time, Dick also acquired and successfully operated a railroad in New England known as “Massachusetts Central Railroad.”
His parents, Don and Ruth Mary Close, purchased property on Cox Bay, Tofino, BC in 1961, and the family soon built their vacation home there in 1967. Like most visitors to Tofino, Dick fell in love with the natural beauty, wildness, and abundance of the land and especially the sea. Dick loved to fish, and fishing in Clayoquot Sound became his passion. He built his own house on Cox Bay in 1981, became a permanent resident of Canada shortly thereafter, and was soon joined by his lifetime partner, Hollis Baker “Holly”.
As an experienced entrepreneur and an avid sports fisherman it wasn’t long before Dick put these two skills together and began the nearly decade long process of developing his dream which became the Weigh West Marine Resort, a full service hotel, restaurant, marine pub, and guiding service in Tofino.
Dick loved identifying opportunities or needs and working behind the scenes and without fanfare to help find solutions. He loved to golf and was instrumental in the development of Long Beach Golf Course where he held two lifetime memberships. He loved to fish and was active in the development of the Tofino Salmon Enhancement Society and the building of the Tofino hatchery. Dick was also very involved and instrumental with many B.C. fishing entities and agencies throughout the late 80s and 90s including S.F.I. Sports Fishing Institute; P.S.F. Pacific Salmon Foundation; and S.F.A.B. Sport Fishing Advisory Board. His experience with the restaurant and pub at Weigh West led him to purchase and successfully operate the Loft restaurant.
Dick loved to garden and learned how to compost in order to provide the soil he needed. He knew the value of an education so he created and funded the Pacific Rim Foundation to provide 4 year scholarships to graduates of Ucluelet High School. Dick was worried about how Tofino cared for its long time residents and worked with the Pacific Rim Senior Care Society and the Hospital Foundation with the goal of building a senior care facility on the Foundation’s lands.
But mostly Dick was an incredibly generous, self-taught, straight shooting, hard drinking, and utterly unique and unforgettable person. We will particularly miss his bad jokes, his incredible hospitality, his barbecue skills, and watching him skillfully netting another leaping salmon. He is survived by his lifetime partner, Holly; his mother, Ruth Mary Close; his brothers, David(Wendy) and Frank(Terri); his sisters, Marilyn, Cathy(Paul) and Christy(Jack) ; numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grand nephews; and his cat, Sam.