Richard Noel Fewkes, 71, passed away October 30, 2018, five days short of his 72nd birthday with his family and friends by his side. After a brief illness, he went out just as he’d have wanted it. Short, sweet and on his own terms.
Never one to sugar coat things, he said he’d lived a great life, told Mom he loved her and was soon gone after.
Born in Tacoma, Wash. in 1946, Rich was adopted at an early age by his parents, Riley and Bonnie. He and his brother Larry were raised on Pogue Flat above Omak where he would ride his horses, hunt birds and just about anything else a young boy could do.
A true cowboy at heart from an early age, Rich was a member of the Ghost Riders, competed in the Famous Suicide Race in high school and even made a cameo appearance in the film Run Appaloosa Run.
In high school Rich worked for the Aston Brothers Cattle Co. taking care of their cattle while building up his own little herd and a good string of horses. On Thursdays, guilty of skipping school, you could always find him at the Okanogan Livestock Market working the back pens. He would always tell us the story of how Omak High School Principal Mr. Mike Rowe, along with Livestock market Owner Mr. Alan Stookey, formed the DECA program at the high school to keep Dad from getting in too much trouble for all the skipping.
Shortly after graduating from Omak in 1965, he married a beautiful black-haired woman named Lorene Staggs. Early in their marriage they owned a little drive-in on Okoma Drive called the Daisy Mae. Jess Ford currently resides on the property now.
Racing horses was a huge passion and success in Rich’s life. Having learned the tricks of the trade, so to speak, from the old-time greats, Troy Farris, Bob Jones and Leonard Miller. Rich trained and raced horses at Playfair, Yakima, Coeur d Alene, Longacres and the bush tracks in Canada.
Rich and Lorene had three great children: Troy Michael, Candace Sue and Casey Roy. While the kids were young, Rich and Weenie moved to Athol, Idaho where he managed a Quarter Horse Ranch for Dr. Merkeley. There he put together one of the greatest set of Broodmares in the Pacific Northwest with many own daughters of the great stallions of yesteryear. While there he met and became partners with the King Of The Horse Traders, Mr. Randy Eppers. They formed EF stables and put on horse sales throughout the Northwest. Their reputation of having quality, flashy, good looking horses with big hips and baby doll heads always guaranteed them the first few slots in the catalog to start off the big registered sales. His knowledge of horse pedigrees would flow like water and on several occasions, he was invited to large sales to do just that. Reading pedigrees with that smooth Rich Fewkes voice, his way with words and charm, combined with that knowledge and little crooked smile guaranteed top dollar on those Registered Horses.
Moving back to Omak in the late 70’s, Rich began a partnership with a childhood friend, Donnie Frazier. They traded horses, provided bucking horses to the young cowboys wanting to learn or hone their skills, and even ventured into having a Suicide Race horse or two. Winning it one year with a big good-looking buckskin gelding with the fearless Bink Picard aboard.
In 1982, Rich found a new calling. One on the lines of horsepower, but this one had four tires instead of hooves. He started out at Damskov Ford in Omak fine tuning that smooth way of selling and then he left for a new dealership 23 miles north. Hedlund Chevrolet was where Rich became a mainstay for the remainder of his working career. His honest, straightforward, no pressure approach to selling vehicles was what brought people to the dealership and became lifelong repeat customers. During this time, Rich and Mr. Hedlund decided they needed to get into the cattle business. So, they bought cattle. Not just a small herd, they ran upwards of 400 at one point. Hedlund Cattle Company was formed and the ever-famous Chevrolet bowtie was their brand. A great stress relief from the dealership at times, you would find them on the feed yard in the winter or at Cape Labelle driving around, putting out salt and checking on their cattle.
A man of many passions, Rich was very good at whatever he attempted. An excellent angler, Rich was very competitive and proud of his Ranger Bass Boats. He was one of the original founders of the Okanogan Valley Bass Club. He loved the thrill of the blast off, but always stated that the speed of those fast boats wasn’t what caught fish or won tournaments. He would shine when it was time to weigh-in, sauntering up to the weigh-off scales with those bags of large bass. But, if the truth be told, he loved fishing from the bank with his wife Lorene, throwing super dupers or using Power Bait more than anything. They spent many years fishing the highland lakes together and enjoyed each other’s company for Mom was a good fisherman and provided him that competition he longed for. Rich introduced the love of the outdoors, fishing and hunting, ethically and morally, to his children and grandchildren when they were at a young age and to this day they still follow the rules instilled by Rich. He loved trapshooting. The stories, the good ol boys and that competition thing again that happened every Sunday in the winter months were something he looked forward to every year.
“The Way it Was” – This was the title of the book Rich wrote a few short years ago. A book about a time when things were simpler, influential people in Rich’s life. A compilation of short stories about people whose word was made of gold. A handshake was all that was needed to make a deal and their desire was to make sure that any and every person who came in contact with them, knew their actions were for the benefit of not only themselves, but others as well.
Rich loved Christmas. Having grown up with a father that loved to decorate the house and yard with those festive lights, it just seemed natural to carry on that tradition. Up until his death, the lights, decorations and inflatable snowmen would all be set up just days prior to Thanksgiving Day. Then, after dinner and darkness arrived, everyone would wait in anticipation as he plugged everything in and turned on those switches, displaying his holiday masterpiece. I’m sure one of the kids will continue on with the tradition in honor of their Dad.
Rich is survived by his loving wife of 53 years, Lorene; oldest son, Troy Michael; daughter, Candace Sue and her husband John and son, Casey Roy and his wife Tamra; grandchildren, Courtney, Dylan, Rylee, Dalton, Logan, Hayden and Rachael; great grandchildren, Lillee, Slater and Huck. He was preceded in death by his parents, Riley and Bonnie and brother, Larry.
A celebration of Rich Fewkes’ life is planned for Saturday, November 17, 2018 at the Okanogan Eagles on Elmway from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Please feel free to attend and tell a story, share a fishing tale, a horse dealing or just a hug to his wife Lorene for Lord knows she will need it. Because you see, that man was her everything.
You are welcome to bring a salad or a dessert to compliment meal provided by the Eagles, also we need to adjourn by 4 p.m. so the Eagles can prepare for another event at 5 p.m.
Precht-Harrison-Nearents Chapel and the Okanogan Co. Crematory of Okanogan are caring for the arrangements.