William B. Richards died of a heart attack Jan. 9, 2014 at age 72 while working out on a rowing machine.
The look on his face when he died was peaceful, as were the last days and years of his life.
Bill will be remembered for his illustrious career in journalism. He was a deft raconteur and self described “craftsman-like” reporter. Many agree he was one of the best of his era. Friends new and old will remember Bill as a gentleman: compassionate, curious, thoughtful, independent-minded, amusing, naughty and brave.
Some of his most impassioned days were spent in the pulsing newsroom of the Washington Post during the Watergate era. He traveled extensively and dug into a wide range of subjects during the 1970s.
From 1981-1983 his thirst for adventure landed him several coveted assignments with The National Geographic during its glory days of unlimited expense accounts and unrivaled in-depth reporting. It was a story teller’s dream come true.
The heart of Bill’s career was spent at the Wall Street Journal from 1982-1998 where he was named a Senior Writer and later San Francisco Deputy Bureau Chief.
A brief hiatus from the WSJ brought Bill to Bainbridge Island with his ex-wife, Peggy Andersen. Here, he covered Boeing for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. In the last phase of his career, Bill was sought out in the field of journalistic ethics. A special contract with the Seattle Times allowed him to provide unprecedentedly naked coverage of its joint operating agreement with the P.I.
In the mid-1990s Bill met Rebecca Slattery at the Streamliner Diner, where she was a waitress and he an ardent daily patron. Many months of subtle courting ensued over breakfast before the two were finally married in 1998. In the last chapter of his life, some said, “Bill landed in clover.” He joined Rebecca in her dream of running beautiful Persephone Farm. Along with business partner Louisa Brown, the three managed 13 acres in Indianola raising organic vegetables and cut flowers.
Bill’s other great passion in retirement was returning to his college love of rowing. In 2001, he co-founded the Bainbridge Island Rowing Club where together with his teammates he fulfilled a lifelong dream in 2003 by rowing in the Head of the Charles. In 2011 he founded the Kitsap Rowing Association, an immense source of pride. He was looking forward to putting together “an old geezer boat” in the summer ahead and to having an oar back in his hands. It was with this aim in mind that he was training so vigorously when he died.
He is survived by his loving wife, Rebecca Slattery; their deep and cherished community of friends and neighbors; his siblings, Sarah Milton, Virginia Stancs, Rob Richards, Mary Clare Burtenshaw; his ex-wife Peggy Andersen; and his step son Josh Andersen. He was preceded in death by his brother, Jonathan Richards.
A celebration of Bill’s life will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1 at the Indianola Clubhouse. All who loved Bill are welcome to attend. Donations in Bill’s memory may be made to: Kitsap Rowing Association, (www.kitsaprowing.org) or Bainbridge Island Farmers Market Association, PO Box 10225, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110.