Dick Colombini, 91, passed away Jan. 23, 2021, after a brief battle with COVID-19. He was born in Tacoma on Jan. 14, 1930, to Antoinette and Robert Colombini. He joined a sister, Evelyn, and a brother, Robert, Jr.
Dick grew up in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood, where six aunties and 20 first cousins were within walking or roller-skating distance. It was a tight-knit family and his cousins were his best friends.
He attended Tacoma schools: Stanley Elementary, Jason Lee Intermediate, and Lincoln High. He was a good student and a gifted athlete. “Scooter,” as he was known, played centerfielder and running back at Lincoln and earned All City, All State, and All Cross State honors in baseball and football. He played in multiple all-state games in both sports.
Dick was recruited by several major league baseball teams and played semi-pro baseball for a time. But, after graduating from Lincoln in 1948, he opted to attend Santa Clara University on a football scholarship. During his two years at SCU, Dick played football and baseball. He and his Bronco teammates were 1950 Orange Bowl champions, and he earned the highest GPA on the team.
Later that year, Dick transferred to UPS, where he played football, baseball, and golf. In 1951, as running back and place kicker, he set the single game scoring record, which stood until 1986.
While at UPS, Dick was president of the Kappa Sigma fraternity and commanding officer of the ROTC squadron. In 1953, he graduated with a BA and teaching certificate. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the USAF and earned the Outstanding ROTC Cadet Award.
Dick served for two years with the USAF’s 81st Fighter Bomber Squadron at Bentwaters RAF Station, England. Along with supply squadron duties, he coached the base football team. He was fortunate to travel extensively in Europe during his military service, including to Tuscany, his father’s birthplace. He completed his tour of duty in 1955 and earned his master’s in education in 1956.
Later that year, he accepted a job at Poulsbo’s North Kitsap High School as teacher, football coach, and athletic director. During his seven seasons as head coach, Dick’s football teams were known for fierce competitiveness. But, more importantly, they were known for their character and high personal standards.
A highlight of his coaching career was the 1960 season, when the NKHS Vikings were undefeated. He ended his coaching career at 37-14-1, and all seven teams had winning records. Coach Colombini maintained relationships with many former players and students for the rest of his life.
In November 1960, Dick married Jane Reid in San Jose, Calif. They settled on Hood Canal, where they raised two daughters, Mary and Annette. Dick loved life on the Canal. He loved the beauty of the surroundings and the abundance of seafood. He told everyone: “I live in Paradise.”
In 1963, Dick moved from teaching and coaching to administration. He served as principal of NK Junior High for two years. During the 1964 earthquake, he used his running back speed to exit the building ahead of the staff and student body. In 1965, he was named the district’s first curriculum director and assistant superintendent. In 1969, he wrote the grant proposal for the Marine Science Center in Poulsbo.
In 1973, he became assistant superintendent at ESD 114, an offshoot of the OSPI, where he provided consultant services to 13 school districts in Kitsap, Jefferson, and Clallam counties. In addition, he supervised the agency’s Kitsap County operations – including the Marine Science Center, the ESD Media Center, and a bilingual cooperative.
Dick retired in 1984, and he and Jane quickly adapted to life as snowbirds. For 20 years, they spent winter months in their motorhome in Palm Springs and Arizona. He played golf nearly every day and enjoyed the College of the Desert Street Fair on weekends. The couple also took RV trips to Alaska, to the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, and around the perimeter of the Lower 48.
Dick loved golfing. At 75, he shot his age at Rolling Hills in Bremerton and jokingly called it the “apex” of his athletic career. In retirement, he enjoyed the solitude of fishing, crabbing, clamming, and picking oysters on Hood Canal. He looked forward to NKHS class reunions where he could reminisce with former players. He found joy in displaying his cooking skills for friends and family. In 2003, he was inducted into the Tacoma Pierce County Baseball Hall of Fame.
In 2005, Dick and Jane moved to Pierce County to be closer to their granddaughters, Erin and Laurel. Dick continued to golf, had lunch with his old “jock” friends in Tacoma, spent time with cousins, followed the Seahawks and Mariners, and just enjoyed life.
Dick will be remembered by his family for being humble, wise, goal driven, creative, clever, and witty. Granddaughter Erin said: “He’s funny and smart and smart about being funny.”
Dick is survived by his wife Jane, daughter Mary (Jim) Morgan, daughter Annette Colombini, granddaughters Erin and Laurel Morgan, nieces, nephews, and numerous cousins. His family is certain there was a large welcoming committee of family and friends when he arrived at the Pearly Gates.
In lieu of flowers, Dick’s family requests donations be made to the Coach Colombini Fund at NKHS to cover fees for student athletes who otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate. Please mail your donations to NKHS Athletics, Attn: Coach Colombini Fund, 1780 NE Hostmark St., Poulsbo, WA 98370.