N. Richard Ream made his exit on Friday the 13th. He wanted to pass along the following:
As a long-time reader, first-time contributor to these pages, I struggled on where to start. Knowing you are dying should make it easier to write an obituary… and yet. Way back in June of 2010, I was diagnosed with kidney cancer which presented a sizable but not insurmountable hurdle to the best laid plans. It went into remission, but before I was able to get a good look in the rear-view mirror, the cancer came back in my lungs. The official diagnosis of metastatic stage four renal cancer and a fresh wave of “science experiments” (avenues of treatment to control but not reverse the spread) slowed but didn’t stop me. I probably should have revisited my obituary, but after retiring from Boeing on April Fools Day after 32 years, I found myself with too much to do to bother with that. I threw myself back into house projects, restoring classic cars, and the celebration of the marriage of my only daughter with not one but two ceremonies and lots of family and friends. Despite my own health battles, I visited my father five times a week at the nursing facility he resided at for two years until his passing.
Safe to say, putting off the inevitable has never been a problem. As a jack of all trades, master of none, I enjoy helping out my large extended family with their own projects. I was born on August fool’s day, as the third of four children to Norm and Virginia Ream (Lisa, Don and Mike rounded out the family). I took apart my first car engine at age twelve, and went to work part-time as a mechanic for Stromberg’s Chevron in West Seattle as soon as I could, in addition helping my father’s construction company with projects all over the Pacific. After graduation from West Seattle High School, I enrolled part time at Seattle Central Community College where I met my future wife. I received my Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics License and hired on as a machinist with Boeing. Over the years, I got to do some pretty cool things there. Among my favorites was selective-etch titanium chemimilling and later integrating robotic arms with six degrees of freedom to improve drilling efficiency on the Boeing 787 assembly line. Initially, the robots weren’t particularly accurate, but they were deathly consistent. Problem solving to consistently produce parts within thousands of a meter was fun stuff.
In my free time, I’ve always been a fan of racing. In my youth, I ran my ‘57 Ranch Wagon, two- door station wagon far faster than the posted speed limit, tearing up the ski slopes and skies, as well as diving around Puget Sound. With age, came wisdom that drag racing might not be the healthiest activity, so I started helping others go fast; first as a crew-member for unlimited hydroplanes and then later as pit crew and biggest supporter of my wife, daughter and niece’s inline speedskating careers as they competed both nationally and internationally.
Time flies when you are having fun, and the rest of the time too. For those of you whose paths I have crossed, I’d like to thank you for making it a fun ride. Realizing I’m not going to be around forever has been somewhat of an inconvenient truth, but I’m survived by my wife of 42 years, Catherine Ream, my daughter Micki Alapati (Jay), my sister Lisa Chamberlin (Clark), my sisters-in-law Annie Wedlund, Deenie Olleman (Ed), my brother in law Steve Cross (Billie), my nieces Tara Wedlund, Natalie Robinson, and Cybil Burnside (Tony) and my nephews Andrew Davis (Mary Ellen) and Nic Cross (Charliann) as well as numerous cousins, second-cousins and friends.
Preceded in death by my father (2019), mother (1983), brother Mike Ream (1983), brother Don Ream (1983), brother-in-law David Cross (2013), niece Julie Davis (2005), cousin John King (2016) and cousin Eric King (2019). I wish to be cremated, and my ashes laid to rest on my families’ beloved Vashon Island home. At some point in the future, there will be a celebration service. In lieu of flowers, I request donations to Seafair. So long, and thanks for all the fish!