A deep love of nature, dedication to community, and a desire to do good in this world were the threads that ran through the life of former Jefferson County Commissioner, Richard Wojt. He was a big, burly man with a sweet nature, a generous spirit, and a twinkle in his eye.
Richard was born on his grandmother’s farm in Thorpe, Wisconsin to Elizabeth Wojtkeiwicz and Edward Wojt and grew up in Bellingham, Washington. An independent boy, he spent hours hiking in the woods. From the beginning he loved science; he and a friend built a diving helmet and used it to tread on the bottom of a nearby lake. Richard had an old-fashioned work ethic. At one time he walked the longest paper route in Bellingham.
Richard was a determined individual who never let the nay-sayers hold him back. Undiagnosed dyslexia made school a challenge, but he ignored advice to lower his ambitions and went to college anyway. He earned degrees in chemistry and education from Western Washington University.
Richard married his first wife, Kay Wilson, and they moved to Port Townsend where he taught at Fort Worden’s Juvenile Diagnostic and Treatment Center. They eventually had two children, Cynthia and Rebecca. Awarded an NSF scholarship to do graduate work in chemistry at Atlanta University, Richard moved his young family to Atlanta in the 1960s. After they returned to Port Townsend, Richard taught science at Chimacum High School for 25 years. He loved working with kids and taking them hiking in the Olympic Mountains. He mentored students who entered careers in the sciences and stayed in touch with some of them for his entire life.
In 1986 Richard married Carolyn Latteier, with whom he lived for the rest of his life. In 1990 he was elected Jefferson County Commissioner and went on to serve for 12 years. A strong environmentalist, his proudest accomplishments were putting in place Jefferson County’s first comprehensive plan and helping to start the Larry Scott Trail. After retiring in 2002, he served on many boards and committees including the North Olympic Salmon Coalition, Jefferson County Historical Society, and Sunrise Rotary. He and Carolyn hiked in England and Scotland, trekked in Nepal, and snorkeled in the Galapagos Islands
Among Richard’s strengths were big-picture thinking, determination, and stamina. He would set a goal and then, “lean in that direction.” He used to say you can get a lot done if you don’t need to take the credit.
Richard is survived by his wife, Carolyn Latteier; daughters, Cynthia Koan and Rebecca Kim (Jong-Woo); grandson, Adam Lee; granddaughter, Paige Van Otten (Evan); great-granddaughter, Nessie May Van Otten; sister, Jane Selene (Gerald); step-son, Amos Latteier (Eileen); and step-granddaughter, Frankie Finn-Latteier; as well as many nieces, nephews and friends.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3 at QUUF. Masks and vaccine cards required. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to Jefferson Healthcare Hospice.