Richard A. Lemargie, 70, passed away Wednesday, June 13, 2018, at his home in Ephrata, Washington, surrounded by loved ones. Richard was born at Grand Coulee Dam, Washington, in 1947 and spent his early years in what was commonly referred to as an engineer’s town just downstream from the Grand Coulee Dam. He was raised in Ephrata and never missed a day of school. Richard grew up enjoying hunting, fishing, raising homing pigeons, delivering newspapers, and playing baseball. He played trumpet in the marching band, receiving the John Phillips Sousa Band Award. Much of his childhood was also spent helping on the Pixlee Ranch. He was active in leadership from an early age as part of the Ephrata High School student body.
As a young man, Richard worked during high school and college for the Washington State Fish and Wildlife service. He also worked several summers in a remote fire lookout high up in the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula near Hood Canal.
During the Vietnam era, he joined the Army National Guard. Richard’s father was the Bureau of Reclamation’s regional solicitor during the construction of the Grand Coulee Project. His father’s unique position allowed Richard to begin his education on reclamation law as a child around the kitchen table. He went on to complete a BA in political science at Washington State University, followed by a JD in law from Gonzaga Law School.
During law school, he interned at the law firm of Dellwo, Rudolf, Grant & Schroder in Spokane, Washington. He then moved back to Ephrata and joined the law firm of Milne and Merritt. Richard later established a partnership creating the law practice of Lemargie and Whitaker (LAW) that has served the local area for more than 35 years and is today known as Lemargie, Kenison, Franz and Whitaker.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Richard dedicated his life’s work to supporting the vision of the Columbia Basin Project: to convert arid land into a productive, irrigated agricultural breadbasket. He focused on state and federal reclamation, irrigation law, and hydropower development and served the greater community by representing individual clients, the Ephrata and Quincy hospital boards, several local municipalities, the Columbia Basin irrigation districts, and the Columbia Basin Hydropower development.
Richard was active in and received several awards from the Columbia Basin Development League, the Northwest Irrigation Operators, the Washington State Water Resources Association, and the National Water Resources Association. His life, just like the many people he represented, is part of the reclamation legacy to provide great value and security to our country through the production of food and hydropower.
Throughout the years, Richard continued to be a skilled outdoorsman. He enjoyed fly fishing and bow hunting, and he participated in the Ephrata Sportsmen’s Association. He developed a passion for Pacific Northwest history and local Native American culture. He loved literature, poetry, and listening to classical music.
A believer in the importance of education, Richard was a past president of the Washington State University Alumni Association and was deeply involved in the Washington State University Honors College. He was also a supporter of the Columbia Basin Allied Arts.
A dedicated husband and loving father and grandfather, Richard was an anchor for his family and friends, always to be counted on as a trusted advisor. He was married to his childhood best friend and lifelong partner, Kathy (Lilly) Lemargie for 46 years. Together, they raised two children and played an active role in the community.
Richard is preceded in death by his parents, Paul and Harriett Lemargie, and his brother Jim Lemargie. He is survived by his wife, Kathy; children Kyle (Pippa) Lemargie and Marissa (Rodolfo) Lemargie Lavaque; siblings Paul E. Lemargie and Mary Thomas; and five grandchildren.