In October 2017 Rich Hubbard’s mountain bike brakes failed, resulting in a serious high-speed crash. Despite treatment from a variety of medical and mental health specialists, he never fully recovered.
On December 14, 2018, Rich passed away in Spokane, Washington. He is survived by his wife of 22 years Ann Sharley-Hubbard, his son Tony Bear of Spokane Valley, his sister Gail Hubbard Callahan of Walla Walla, granddaughters Kate and Haley Bear, and many close friends. Even during his difficult last year, Rich placed great value on the friendship and love of his numerous friends and relatives. Rich was a kind and gentle soul, and he will be greatly missed.
Rich worked seasonally for federal agencies during his college years, conducting timber inventories for the U.S. Forest Service in Idaho and serving as a temporary Range Conservationist with the Rock Springs and Kemmerer, Wyoming, Bureau of Land Management offices. In 1976 Rich accepted a permanent Range Conservationist position with the Bureau of Land Management in Havre, Montana, a position he held for three years. During these early jobs a number of Rich’s coworkers were added to his list of lifelong friends.
Havre was considered a particularly remote Bureau of Land Management post and in 1979 Rich applied for a Range Conservationist position with the Spokane District BLM. Rich was selected for the job and spent the remainder of his career in Spokane, where he served as District Range Conservationist, District Rangeland Management Specialist, and for a time Acting Director of the District Scarce Skills Team. Many of Rich’s colleagues during this period also became his close friends.
Rich, known to family and early friends as “Dick,” was born on June 9, 1950 in Walla Walla, Washington, the second of Ralph Wood Hubbard and Maxine Harriet Elledge Hubbard’s two children. During Rich’s earliest years the family remained in Walla Walla, where they enjoyed the friendship of other young families in their unusually close-knit neighborhood.
In the summer of 1955, when Rich was five years old, the Hubbards moved to Lewiston, Idaho, where Rich spent his childhood riding bikes and later motorcycles, playing baseball, swimming, fishing, and generally raising heck with other boys his age. He played the trumpet in his school bands and out-of-town band trips were especially memorable adventures. As a teenager Rich was a member of the Masonic-affiliated Order of DeMolay and a baptized member of the Orchards Community Church, both of which provided additional opportunities for pranks and mischief. In 1968 Rich graduated from Lewiston High School, where he considered himself one of the school’s first “hippies.” Following high school Rich remained in touch with many of his Lewiston friends and some, including Mark Lugar, Dick Swartz, and Bruce Matteson, became his lifelong ski, tennis, fishing, biking, and camping buddies.
Rich began college in the fall of 1968 at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, and graduated summa cum laude in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Science. Many professors at this conservative institution equated long hair and hippie attire with low intelligence and were shocked to discover Rich was one of their brightest students. While at Texas A&M Rich made many more friends, some of whom remained his friends for life.
Following his undergraduate studies, Rich was accepted into the Range Science Master’s program at Colorado State University, where he graduated in 1975 with a Master of Science degree in Range Ecology. His thesis explored competition for food among large herbivores and was titled, “Diets of Wild Horses, Cattle, and Mule Deer in the Piceance Basin, Colorado.”
While in Havre, Rich met and fell in love with Sandra “Sandy” Johnson and they were married May 3, 1980 in Spokane. Sandy had a 3-year-old son, Anthony “Tony” Bear, from her first marriage and Rich became Tony’s second father. The new family enjoyed outdoor activities and regularly skied and rode motorcycles together. Vacations to Canada, the Oregon Coast, and Hawaii also included camping or other outdoor activities. The marriage, however, was not to last and the couple divorced in 1994. Tony, though, remained in Rich’s life as his much-loved son.
In 1994 Rich met Ann Sharley, a seasonal Archaeologist at the Spokane District BLM. The two fell in love and were married on the beach in Poipu, Hawaii, on November 18, 1996. Rich and Ann enjoyed travel, particularly to warm locales, and vacationed in Bali, Tahiti, Hawaii, Aruba, St. Lucia, Jamaica, Florida, Oregon, and Alaska. Other favorite activities included eating out, attending movies and plays, hiking, camping, partying with friends, and watching sports on television.
Rich retired from the BLM in 2005, and spent the next 12 years riding his BMW motorcycle, driving his Corvette, skiing with friends at Schweitzer and in Colorado, working out, and riding his mountain bike, a period he frequently described as “the best retirement a person could have.”
A memorial service for Rich Hubbard will be held on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 at 2 p.m. in the Ball & Dodd Funeral Home chapel, 5100 W. Wellesley Ave., Spokane, Washington 99205, 509-328-5620. Interment will be at a later date in one of the Hubbard family plots at the Spangle Cemetery, Spangle, Washington. In lieu of flowers the family recommends making a donation in Rich’s name to the charity of your choice.