ash blanketed Spokane after Mount St. Helens’ 1980 eruption, Dr. Richard
Stacey worried about the long-term effect on people’s lungs.
president of the Spokane County Medical Society at the time. Working
with others, he helped devise emergency plans that closed schools and
distributed tens of thousands of facial masks to the region’s residents.
largely responsible for shutting down the city,” his son, John Stacey,
recalled this week.
longtime Rockwood Clinic physician and civic volunteer, died Sunday at
his home. He was 80.
family remembered Stacey as a doctor who connected with patients and
helped spur innovations in treating rheumatoid arthritis. He was an avid
traveler who spent two years as a Peace Corps doctor in Turkey early in
his career. Through his volunteer work, he also helped the Spokane
Symphony and other nonprofits achieve greater financial stability.
“He was a
larger than life kind of guy – a doctor and a world traveler,” said Mark
Hurtubise, president and CEO of the Inland Northwest Community
Foundation, where Stacey was a board member and board chairman. “And he
was kind and encouraging.”
as Dick to family and friends, was born March 14, 1936. He grew up in
Westfield, New Jersey, outside of New York City. He graduated from
Dartmouth College and Tufts Medical School in Boston.
to Spokane in 1961 while scouting out medical internships. His sister,
the late Allison Cowles, had married The Spokesman-Review publisher
William Cowles III, and was living in Spokane. Stacey ended up doing his
internship in Philadelphia, but he met Connie Moore, the woman who would
become his wife, in Spokane on a blind date. They married the next year.
couple’s stint in the Peace Corps, they moved to Minnesota, where Stacey
spent 4 1/2 years at the Mayo Clinic. He eventually joined Rockwood
Clinic in Spokane, where he practiced rheumatology for 27 years.
rheumatology because it was a young specialty, and he thought we needed
to find breakthroughs in treatment,” said Dr. Rex Hoffmeister, a
longtime colleague. “He was interested in serving people.”
In the late
1960s, Stacey was involved in pioneering the use of a new drug –
methotrexate – in treating rheumatoid arthritis. It’s still in
widespread use today, Hoffmeister said.
retired from Rockwood Clinic in 1991. He was honored by the Spokane
County Medical Society in 1997 as the “outstanding physician-citizen of
retirement years were busy with volunteer work.
“He felt that
when you are part of a community, you need to give back,” said his wife,
Connie. “It was both a duty and a joy to him.”
Stacey was on
the boards of Blue Cross Washington & Alaska/Premera, Whitworth
University, the Spokane chamber of commerce, Rockwood Clinic Foundation,
WSU Spokane and the Spokane Symphony.
He was board
chairman of the Inland Northwest Community Foundation from 1997 to 2000,
and was proud the endowment increased from $5 million to $35 million
during that time.
“We are the
region’s savings account when it comes to philanthropy,” said Hurtubise,
the foundation president and CEO. The endowment has $100 million now, a
result of the “strategic dreaming” by leaders such as Stacey, he said.
was involved in a $30 million fundraising effort to renovate the Fox
Theater, the home of the Spokane Symphony.
“It was quite
an endorsement to have his name on the campaign,” said Jennifer Hicks,
the symphony’s director of development.
commitments to his family, his medical practice and his volunteer work,
Stacey had what his family called “an obscure passion” for the historic
events depicted in the novel “Mutiny on the Bounty” and later films.
retired, Stacey and three friends visited Pitcarin Island near Tahiti in
the South Pacific, which was settled by British sailors who took part in
a 1789 mutiny. Stacey gave his collection of books about the event to
the Cowles Rare Book Library at Gonzaga University.
wrote an unpublished spy novel in retirement. The plot featured stolen
nuclear engineering plans and took place in Turkey (where Stacey and his
wife often returned to visit), Europe and Idaho.
survived by his wife, Connie; three children and their spouses, Eve and
John VanNewkirk in Seattle; John Stacey and Monica Morse in San
Francisco; Chris and Sam Stebbins in Washington, D.C.; and eight
grandchildren and step-grandchildren.