Tri-Cities bids farewell to notable business, civic leaders in 2022

The Tri-Cities said good-bye to leaders who helped create the community we know and love this past year and in late 2021, including Dennis Poland, the builder and one time Kennewick Man of the Year; Robert L. “Bob” Ferguson, the U.S. Department of Energy’s first deputy assistant secretary of nuclear programs as well as the former head of Energy Northwest; and Mike Lawrence, the influential Hanford manager who drew back the curtain and set the stage for the massive site cleanup.

Byron Marlowe
Dec. 28, 2021

Byron Marlowe, the prominent Washington State University Tri-Cities wine professor, died unexpectedly on Dec. 28, 2021. He was 43.

WSU remembered him for his warm personality and infectious smile. He joined the WSU Tri-Cities Carson College of Business in 2015 and was named director of its wine and beverage business management program. He was awarded the Don Smith Distinguished Professorship, given to scholars who are devoted to teaching.

He held several other appointments as well and traveled internationally to share his expertise in the wine and beverage industry. A scholarship was established in his memory to support students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in hospitality business management.

Jocelyn “Joce” Berriochoa
Oct. 28, 1949-Dec. 31, 2021

Jocelyn Berriochoa, the educator and longtime teachers union president, died Dec. 31, 2021, of pneumonia. She was 72.

Born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, she spent her adult life in the Tri-Cities. She taught art at Kennewick’s Park Middle School for three decades and represented educators as president of the Kennewick Education from 1996-97. A KEA spokesperson called her a “fiery” advocate for teachers.

Vernon “Vern” L. Mindermann
Aug. 7, 1944-April 4, 2022

Vernon Mindermann, who owned the Zip’s restaurant on Lee Boulevard in Richland, died April 4 in Richland. He was 77.

Mindermann was born in Spokane and purchased the Zip’s restaurant in 1980. Purchasing and operating the restaurant was one of his great accomplishments, along with his family, according to his obituary.

Robert “Bob” M. Kildall
Feb. 6, 1944-April 20, 2022

Robert “Bob” M. Kildall, founder of Bob’s Burgers and Brews, which has restaurants in Kennewick and Richland, died April 20. He was 78.

Kildall grew up in Lynden and served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, including at Paine Field. He spent decades in the restaurant industry before forming his own franchise in 1982, with locations scattered around the state, including in Kennewick and Richland.

Scott Hanchette
Sept. 8, 1961-April 25, 2022

Scott Hanchette, who established Viper Aircraft Corp., at the Richland Airport in 1995, died April 25 following a short illness. He was 60 and had lived in the Tri-Cities for 42 years.

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, he grew up with a love of airplanes that would inspire him to design the one-of-a-kind Viperjet with his brother, Dan. The small, homebuilt jet aircraft featured two seats in tandem under a bubble canopy.

Robert “Bob” Marple
March 11, 1929-May 18, 2022

Robert “Bob” Marple, accountant to the Tri-Cities, died May 18. He was 93.

Marple, a certified public accountant, practiced for nearly 70 years and boasted an unusually low number on his Washington State CPA certificate: 1,253.

He came to the Tri-Cities in 1952 after serving on active duty in the Army during the Korean War. He was one of the first partners with Niemi, Holland & Scott and opened Robert E. Marple CPA in 1973. The firm became Marple & Marple CPAs in 1973 before being sold to PorterKinney in 2019.

He was a past president of the Tri-Cities Estate Planning Council, Central Chapter of the Washington State CPA, Kennewick Kiwanis and Kennewick Toastmasters.

Robert “Bob” Gamache
Oct. 4, 1949-May 22, 2022

Robert “Bob” Gamache, the wine industry pioneer, died May 22 at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland after a fall. He was 72.

Gamache, his brother, Roger, and their father started Gamache Vintners in 1982 on 180 acres in Basin City. The property was sold to Sagemoor Vineyards in 2015, but the Gamaches retained their Prosser tasting room until the pandemic forced a shut-down and it was sold to Wit Cellars.

Gamache grew up in the Yakima Valley and served in the Army.

Gail C. Mueller Riddell
Jan. 21, 1938-June 10, 2022

Gail Christine Mueller Riddell, who grew up in and later owned the family funeral business, died June 10 at her home in Kennewick. She was 84.

Mueller Riddell was a young girl when her family moved into the “big house” at the funeral home on First Avenue in Kennewick. She graduated from Kennewick High School in 1956, attended Whitworth College in Spokane and held several jobs, including secretary at Battelle and flight attendant, before joining Mueller Family Home.

She was credited with breaking the glass ceiling in the male-dominated funeral profession and was remembered for moving gracefully between bereaved clients and dealing with vendors.

Lloyd Carnahan
May 19, 1937-June 22, 2022

Lloyd Richard Carnahan, an indefatigable supporter of Benton City, died June 22 at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland. He was 85.

He was born in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, but moved to Benton City as a child, where he graduated from Kiona-Benton City High School in 1956. He followed his father into the plumbing business, working for Apollo.

In retirement, he devoted himself to family and to his community, serving on the Benton City Council and as mayor, making economic development his top priority.

Dr. Sara Zirkle
Oct. 6, 1939-June 19, 2022

Dr. Sara Zirkle, who joined her husband Lewis in creating the global nonprofit based in Richland, SIGN Fracture Care International, died June 19 in Richland. She was 82.

She was born Sara Kay Shilling in Troy, Ohio, and earned undergraduate and medical degrees from Duke University, focusing on pediatrics.

The Zirkles made their life in Richland, where the couple practiced medicine. SIGN Fracture Care is a nonprofit manufacturer that provides equipment and training to third world surgeons to treat bone injuries that would be an inconvenience to Americans but potential death sentences in less developed settings.

Robert L. “Bob” Ferguson
Oct. 26, 1932-Aug. 12, 2022

Robert L. “Bob” Ferguson, the U.S. Department of Energy’s first deputy assistant secretary of nuclear programs as well as the former head of Energy Northwest, died Aug. 12. He was 89.

Ferguson was born in Dover, Idaho, and studied physics at Gonzaga University before being commissioned as an officer in the army, where he worked primarily with the U.S. Army Ordinance Corps. He would spend 60 years working in nuclear energy. 

He was a longtime Richland resident who helped establish the Washington State University Tri-Cities campus, which he would later support with a $500,000 gift to promote energy research. He was also an author and an avid supporter of a swift cleanup of the Hanford site so it could take on a clean energy mission.

Robert “Rob” Curet
May 18, 1970-Oct. 3, 2022

Robert “Rob” Curet, a serial entrepreneur who founded and owned Rocco’s Pizza, died Oct. 3 following a cancer diagnosis. He was 52.

He was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and later lived in Richland where he enjoyed creating businesses when he wasn’t hunting and fishing. Rocco’s has locations in Kennewick and Pasco.

Neva Corkrum
Oct. 2, 1934-Oct. 17, 2022

Neva Corkrum, the lifelong Pasco resident and longtime elected official in Franklin County, died Oct. 17. She was 88.

The Pasco Hall of Famer graduated from Pasco High and served as the county auditor and later spent 20 years as a Franklin County Commission. It’s believed she was the first person to hold that role and the last Democrat. In her elected role, she contributed to the restoration of the historic county courthouse, including its glass dome.

Alexander D. Pappas
Aug. 4, 1986-Nov. 6, 2022

Alexander Pappas, a licensed geologist who worked in the engineering program at Washington River Protection Solutions on the Hanford site before joining Thermo Fisher Scientific, died Nov. 6 in a car wreck on Interstate 90 between Cle Elum and Ellensburg. He was 36.

Friends remembered him as a kind and energetic soul with a passion for all things mechanical, from helicopters and planes to motorcycles, cars and boats. He was a dedicated gamer as well.

He attended Hanford High School and Hanover College.

Travis A. Jordan
Sept. 4, 1981-Nov. 16, 2022

Travis Jordan, the former Lampson crane operator who founded Kennewick’s Rockabilly Roasting in 2015, died unexpectedly Nov. 16 after feeling ill for several days. He was 41.

He was remembered as an active supporter of downtown Kennewick, where his coffee shop and roastery are on West Kennewick Avenue.

Dennis Poland
Aug. 23, 1949-Nov. 26, 2022

Dennis Poland, who was born in Pasco and raised in Kennewick, died at home following a lengthy illness on Nov. 26. He was 73.

Poland, whose father, Ray, established the Ray Poland and Sons, joined the National Guard following graduation from high school, moving to Fort Knox, Kentucky, and then Ellensburg, where he earned a degree at Central Washington University.

He took the helm at Ray Poland & Sons in 1978 after his father’s death and enlisted his children into the family business.

John Crawford
Nov. 9, 1941-Nov. 29, 2022

John Crawford, the retired Pasco teacher who reportedly did not know the meaning of the word “retirement,” died Nov. 29 in Kennewick. He was 81.

Crawford was born in Cordova, Alaska, but Pasco became his home when he accepted a teaching position at Pasco High School in 1964, after graduating from Whitworth College.

He taught math and computers for 30 years and on retiring, became the district’s computer coordinator and instructor. He found time to teach math at Columbia Basin College. But he was best known for his inexhaustible interest in coaching.

He coached basketball for 13 years, track for 10, cross country for three and oversaw track meets for three decades, leveraging his computer knowledge to track statistics across a variety of tournaments and disciplines.

Mike Lawrence
Aug. 20, 1947-Dec. 3, 2022

Mike Lawrence, the U.S. Department of Energy manager of the Hanford nuclear reservation site who drew back the curtain and set the stage for the modern cleanup, died Dec. 3 of pancreatic cancer. He was 75.

The Tri-City Herald called him an “unsung hero” in a news obituary published in advance of a formal obituary, quoting retired publisher Jack Briggs.

He was Hanford’s top manager as it transitioned from producing plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal to the environmental cleanup that generates $2.5 billion in federal spending in the local economy each year.

Lawrence signed the landmark Tri-Party Agreement as the Department of Energy representative. The document spells out the steps required to clean up radioactive and hazardous chemical waste left at the site.

The public was given a clearer picture of the Hanford site when Lawrence volunteered in 1985 to declassify thousands of pages of documents.

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