Former chairman of the Suquamish Tribe Richard Belmont Jr., who played a critical role in the success of the tribe, was laid to rest July 24.
Belmont, who was born in Neah Bay on July 24, 1939, passed away on May 19 at the age of 81.
Belmont served as chairman for much of the 1970s and is credited for laying the groundwork for the tribe’s current success. Accomplishments include the Suquamish Museum, the House of Awakened Culture and its first fish hatchery.
“Richard served as chairman of the Suquamish Tribe during a time when the tribe was facing challenges to our sovereign rights from many directions,” said Leonard Forsman, current Suquamish chairman.
Forsman recalled a series of events in which Belmont worked to protect the tribe’s treaty rights, as well as land and jurisdictional rights, oftentimes resulting in trips to Washington, D.C.
“He was a gifted orator and was known for his inspiring speeches,” Forsman said.
Belmont grew up in Bremerton and earned a two-year degree before joining the U.S. Coast Guard and then working as a radiographer at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for 26 years. When he retired he devoted his life to service in the tribe and to his family.
“Richard and those who served with him on Tribal Council provided their time and leadership as volunteers, motivated by a sense of justice and love for their people,” Forsman said.
In his later years, Belmont was known for his passion for fishing as well as his work ethic, kindness, generosity, infectious laughter and sense of humor.
“Richard had a big personality and was liked by many. His presence will be greatly missed. His suffering now ended, he is with the Creator, his ancestors, and his beloved dog Lord Ish of Belmont,” his family said in a statement.