Richard “Dick” Melhart of Vancouver, Washington, passed away May 21, 2022 at the age of 80 from complications with Alzheimer’s disease. He was born in San Jose, California and was the only child to Raymond and Rosemary Melhart. He grew up in Chehalis, Washington and graduated from W.F. West High School in 1960. He then joined the United States Navy for three years before attending and graduating from Washington State University with a bachelor’s degree in athletic training/sports medicine in 1967.
Dick began his professional career as an athletic trainer at West Point Military Academy in Highland Falls, New York. He also worked in the same capacity at Stanford University, Utah State, University of Idaho and at his alma mater Washington State University. After working as an athletic trainer for many years, he attended the University of Utah obtaining his master’s degree and became a physician assistant at Rebound Orthopedics in 1991 and then retired in 2001. After retirement, Dick kept busy driving tour buses for various cruise lines and sports teams across the United States. He also volunteered at Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital throughout the year.
In 1986, Dick was teaching athletic training for multiple sports teams in Pakistan. On Sept. 5, 1986, he was flying home from Karachi, Pakistan to New York on Pan Am Flight 73 when four armed gunmen attempted to hijack the flight. Dick was instrumental in helping other passengers escape by opening the emergency hatch of the airplane. After the hijacking, he went on public speaking tours all over the United States and the world to share his experience of the tragedy that occurred.
Dick married the love of his life Julie Ann Melhart in 2004 in Breckenridge, Colorado. They resided in Vancouver, Washington where they enjoyed time with family and friends, traveling, boating, hiking, racquetball (Dick was a national champion), and quiet time at their cabin in Cougar, Washington. They also adored their lovable Yorkies Abby and Tucker.
Dick is survived by his wife Julie, daughter Tami (Lance), son Hal (Katie), son Brian (Maureen), daughter Kala, and grandchildren Austin, Bryce, Sierra, Carter and Ahmayah.
A celebration of Dick’s life will be held for family and friends on June 15, 2022 at Jeremy’s Farm to Table at 576 W. Main St., Chehalis, Washington from noon to 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.