Richard (Dick) Neal Erdman was born January 15, 1933 in Minot, ND. The younger of two siblings, he and his sister spent their first few years in Minot before moving to the Tacoma, WA area when they were both young. Their mother was drawn to the area by work in the shipyards.
Dick decided to go to college in junior high; he wasn’t sure what it was, but he knew it would help him escape his impoverished youth.
He accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior when a man (Harold Schutt) witnessed to him while he was working at a gas-filling station. At the time, he said, he did it partly just to get rid of the guy, but then he started to wonder if it really meant anything.
After several years of working to save enough money, then going to school until the money ran out and then getting a job to raise more money, he received his undergraduate degree from UW. Later, he achieved a Master’s degree and Principal’s credentials from the University of Eastern Michigan.
While attending Navigator’s Bible study, Dick met a striking woman named Betty. They would go on “study dates” to the UW Library together! On an early non-study date Dick took Betty on a special outing to the Olympic Hotel restaurant for coffee and pie alamode. Dick didn’t realize how much it would cost, and almost didn’t have enough to pay for it!
Dick and Betty Morrison were married November 28, 1958. Through thick and thin, tough times and laughter, they were married for 62.5 years until Betty went to be with Jesus on July 30, 2021.
Dick’s favorite and longest-duration job was as the Principal of Seattle Evening High School. He held this position for more than 30 years and received many awards during his tenure.
His favorite sport was swimming. Because Betty was an above-the-knee amputee, swimming was something they could both do and they swam in lakes, pools, and oceans all over the globe—literally!
He was a dedicated athlete, starting in High School where he learned boxing, and was the captain of the ski team as well. He was a dedicated jogger in his 30s & 40s, then turned to lap swimming, accumulating 100 miles every year for 30 years and achieved 3,000 lifetime swimming miles. In addition, he summited Mount Rainier when he was only 18 years old, and later, Mount Fuji.
During the Korean War, he served in the Merchant Marines as a clerk. This opportunity took him around the world. He told of a time aboard ship in rough seas, and trying to type.
Unfortunately, as the ship dropped over particularly large waves, the typewriter would shift to ALL CAPS! Another time, his ship sailed directly over the deepest section of ocean, the Mariana Trench near Guam. One of his shipmates tossed a dinner plate overboard. As they watched it slowly sink, flipping back and forth, they imagined it doing that for nearly 7 miles!
Dick and Betty lived in WA State for nearly all their married years, except for one year in Chicago, Illinois, where they attended bible school, and one year in Flint, Michigan where Dick earned his Master’s Degree in Education.
Both Betty and Dick invited more than 30 people to live with them during their years. Most of the time, these were people who needed a place to stay short-term. Much of the time, they also needed the stability of a “home” with boundaries and duties and structure—something Dick had very little of in his own upbringing.
Betty and Dick witnessed to hundreds of people over their years of marriage—almost always together. This included repair people who came to the house, waiters and waitresses in restaurants, people in grocery stores, his students, the kids’ friends, people in call centers, people at the swimming pool, people on vacation, doctors, nurses, people in hospitals, Emergency staff, etc. Every person they met provided an opportunity to share something about how Jesus could change your life, and your eternal destination.
Both of them were part of Navigators for several years and I think this helped them establish a firm foundation in witnessing. And their witness continues – I witnessed to one of Dick’s caregivers in the parking lot at Aegis Lodge after he helped me move some stuff to my car! Even though he’s now part of our “cloud of witnesses,” the example he set continues….
Dick loved his family — all of them. He was never shy about telling people he loved them. EVERY time he spoke to me in the last 18 months he told me he loved me at least twice. Probably did the same for every one of his children and grandchildren. And his good friends, too — many of whom they met at Eastside Church.
Dick made many good and wise choices, which set the trajectory of his family on an advantageous course, highly contrasting the way he grew up.
A Celebration of Life will be held for Dick Erdman on Saturday, May 13, 2023, 2 p.m. Pacific Time, at Eastside Church in the Lodge. Eastside Church is located at 14520 100th Ave. NE, Bothell, WA 98011. For questions, contact Sharon Peterson at 425-503-0069.
In lieu of flowers, please consider giving a gift in honor of Richard and Betty Erdman to one of their favorite charities: Samaritan’s Purse and Think SMALL Global.