Richard Gary Shankland (Rich) was born at Providence Hospital in Seattle, Washington, on December 9, 1941. If this date seems familiar, it was two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor and one day after we entered WWII.
He was delivered by Dr. Reiswig, the doctor for the Seattle Fire Department at the time. This may have had a bearing on his future life. He was the son of Lt. Donn D. Shankland and Ann M. Shankland and the younger brother of Donn G. Shankland.
He was raised in Seattle and attended Cleveland High School. He married his high school sweetheart, Linda Lou Meanor, August 26, 1960.
After a stint in the shipyards and the Boeing Company, he accepted the challenge of the entrance exam for the Seattle Fire Department. He reported for drill school on February 11, 1963.
His daughter, Sharon, was born just a few weeks later, February 28, 1963; followed by his son, Karl, April 15, 1964.
In 1969, he was selected for the first group of Paramedics for Medic One. On March 7, 1970, Medic One officially went into service as the first unit to deliver hospital-quality care to the scene. Rich was riding the right front seat, with John O'Connor driving. With John's passing, Rich became the surviving paramedic able to claim the "First in the Nation" title.
In 2005, he was inducted into the Lifesaving Hall of Fame for his work.
He eventually went back to the Seattle Fire Department and achieved the positions of Lieutenant and Captain before retiring in 1981. He suffered a severe on-the-job injury before retiring, and that injury would plague him with continued pain for the rest of his life, but the fire department took very good care of him with a full-disability pension.
Richard worked as the King County Fire Marshal for a few years after his retirement from the SFD.
During his retirement, he was known for many accomplishments, the greatest of which was his construction of his beloved Esmerelda, a 1953 French-built plan aircraft built from wood and fabric. Constructed in his garage, he and Linda went on to fly the aircraft across the country many times and win multiple awards. Rich had started flying at 14 years of age; it was a huge passion of his and nothing made him feel freer than soaring the skies.
In 1988, they moved to Minter Lagoon in Gig Harbor and would spend the rest of their lives there, enjoying the community and the waterfront. Their property was a showplace and looked like a park. They took much joy in their home ownership.
Throughout the years, they stayed in touch with many of their fire department friends and many others they met on their travels and in the online groups that he was so active in, including forums for Emeraudes, pilots, guns, motorcycles, Corvettes, ham radio, and other interests. They loved to entertain and be entertained and were always having people over for food, drinks, and fun. He was an active Mason for many years and met many lifetime friends there as well. They were also active in their church and enjoyed the ‘breakfast club’ that went out after the service. His other interests included science, science fiction, physics, God, reading, writing, hunting, fishing, boating, sailing, and many more. He had a wonderful sense of humor.
Richard & Linda renewed their wedding vows in 1995 at 35 years of marriage. They were devoted to each other for 57 years.
Richard was really known as the ‘guy who knew everything;’ there was barely any subject that he didn’t know something about. He could build or fix just about anything and was always happy to share his knowledge helping others. He was a wise, sensitive, generous, caring man. He was described by friends as “One of the good guys,” with a heart big enough to love so very many.
Richard spent his final days with family and passed peacefully on July 5, 2019.
His beloved Linda preceded him in death in June 2017. He is survived by his daughter, Sharon (wife Dianna); his son, Karl (wife Angela); and his grandchildren, Katherine, Kyle, Marina, and Wyatt.
After the service, August 3, at 2 p.m., we will have a get together at Mom & Dad’s house at 11720 118th Ave NW, Gig Harbor. Please bring your favorite dishes to share.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Seattle’s Bravest Charity (www.seattlesbravestcharity.com), a charity both Dad and Mom supported. Flowers are not requested, but if you would like to order them, we would recommend Sunnycrest Nursery in Key Center (www.sunnycrestnursery.com). Mom loved to shop there. Thank you.
To send flowers to Richard's family, please visit our floral section.
Seattle's Bravest Charity
517 2nd Ave West, Seattle WA 98119