‘Grandpa Dick’ left a trail of love and respect

To some, he was Grandpa Dick. To others, he was the artesian — or Dickie. To his wife, he was Babe.

He was a United States Air Force veteran, a father, a husband of 43 years, a respected Boy Scout leader, a Boeing retiree, a storyteller, a mentor, a "super volunteer" and an elementary school reading tutor.

To some, he was Santa Claus.

Dick Berrisford played many roles and was known by many names. But one thing he will be to everyone is greatly missed.

Berrisford died in his Federal Way home Sept. 10 after an ongoing battle with lung cancer. He was 72.

"Whether you knew him as Dick, Grandpa Dick, 'the little old man with the long white beard' or the artesian, you loved and respected him," said Sue Overton, a family friend. "He has left a very big hole in the hearts of many youth and adults alike in our community."

Berrisford was quiet about his illness up until the end, said Lori Martin, a teacher at Lake Grove Elementary where he tutored students in reading for the past 10 years.

"He didn't really tell the kids he was sick," Martin said, noting that Berrisford was so devoted to the students, he tutored them as recently as this summer, despite his treacherous battle with cancer.

Berrisford, whom children affectionately called "Grandpa Dick," showed up for class at Lake Grove armed with gifts and trinkets for the children — candy canes, stickers and such.

"He was really friendly. He knew a lot of kids by name," Martin said. "He started off volunteering once a week and he was so popular, he ended up here almost every day."

Students loved hearing Berrisford's stories about "the old days." He also identified with those who had trouble reading.

"He really worked well with our struggling readers, especially the kids who couldn't speak English," Martin said. "He would talk about how reading was hard for him a little bit in school and you have to work hard to get better."

Students who improved in their reading couldn't wait for Berrisford's next visit so they could boast about their improvements, said Barbara Montgomery, a former teacher at Lake Grove. To many, he was like a grandpa they didn't have.

"We really loved him and we were so used to having him here," Martin said. "It's going to be a huge loss."

Contact Margo Horner: or (253) 925-5565.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to: Boy Scout of America Pacific Harbor Camper-ship Fund, c/o the Berrisfords, 30803 7th Ave. SW, Federal Way, WA 98023.

A public memorial and potluck will be held at 3 p.m. today, Sept. 29, at Camp Kilworth in Federal Way.

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