People who worked and did business with prominent Spokane developer Richard “Dick” Vandervert remember him for being a sharp dealmaker and community leader who treated everyone with the same level of respect.
Vandervert, 78, died unexpectedly of heart failure Jan. 4, according to his daughter Debbie Cozzetto. He was the owner of Spokane-based Vandervert Developments LLC, a commercial development and property management company, with properties in the Tri-Cities.
He also was known for founding Vandervert Construction Inc., which was sold in 2014 after operating under his leadership for 28 years.
Susan Horton, CEO and president of Spokane-based Wheatland Bank, which has a Pasco branch, says Vandervert served on Wheatland Bank’s board of directors for 20 years. She says he also was a customer, a major shareholder, and a tremendous referral source of new business to Wheatland that helped drive growth of the bank.
Horton says she remembers first meeting Vandervert 24 years ago when Vandervert Construction was contracted to build three new branches.
“We were so impressed with the integrity in which he conducted his construction business that I thought it would be an amazing asset to our board if I could get the revered Dick Vandervert to serve,” Horton said. “I knew that he could help us grow … and that’s exactly what he did.”
Horton added, “Not only did he build a tremendous real estate empire, but despite all of his power, success, and intelligence, he was just a down-to-earth, humble man.”
Those close to him describe Vandervert as an active community member who contributed time and resources to various nonprofits and functions.
Cozzetto, who works at Vandervert Developments, said her father was sometimes mistaken as a janitor at his properties due to his habit of beautifying properties, picking up garbage from parking lots, and pulling weeds while dressed in his signature shorts and Tommy Bahama shirts.
Prior to becoming a commercial builder, he got his start in the construction industry during his senior year at Shadle Park High School, where he worked at a Keystone Frame & Manufacturing lumbermill after school. He then attended night classes at Whitworth University and later worked as a carpenter for Boise Cascade, constructing pre-built houses.
Vandervert was married to his high school sweetheart, Bonnie (Riddle) Vandervert, for 58 years. She operates the hotel division of Vandervert Developments. The company manages five hotels in Eastern Washington, including Hampton Inn, and Homewood Suites, both in Richland and one in Kalispell, Montana.
Vandervert Developments has 24 properties and manages over 2 million square feet of commercial real estate in Spokane County, Pullman, Richland, and North Idaho listed on its website.
Prominent developments include Richland properties at 1080 George Washington Way, home to Porter’s Real BBQ, TC Cider House and Fresh Leaf Co., and River Walk Village at 400 Bradley Blvd., home to The Bradley and Longship Cellars, among others.
Cozzetto says no plans are in place yet to name a new company leader.
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