Richard Ernest Betz (Rich) was born January 17, 1943, in Bremerton, Washington, to Ernest and Edna Betz.
Rich’s youngest years were spent in the lower Yakima valley, eventually ending up and graduating from high school in Quincy, Washington, in 1961. Rich was a multiple sport athlete and state champion wrestler. Rich was active in 4-H, FFA and had a passion for raising and showing cattle around the state. After high school, Rich attended Washington State University, graduating in 1965 with a B.S. degree in agricultural economics.
While in college Rich was enrolled in ROTC, after graduating Rich served his country in the Vietnam War as second lieutenant in the U.S. Army infantry/airborne division. While serving, Rich was recognized for his willingness to go “above and beyond” the call of duty, receiving two Bronze Stars to commemorate his efforts.
In 1969 Rich married Theresa Faulk in Grandview, Washington. Shortly after marriage, the couple followed Rich’s parents to Hermiston with the idea of trying center pivot irrigation to produce potatoes for a fresh pack facility that Ernest was in the process of building known as Royal Pak. Rich called upon his college roommate and long-time friend Walt “Bud” McDevitt to move to Hermiston and help get the operation started. Rich and Walt ended up forming a business partnership, buying the packing facility from Rich’s parents (now known as Bud-Rich Potato), and developing an irrigated farm along the Columbia River known as Royale Columbia Farms. Rich and Walt remained loyal business partners and best of friends through the tumultuous cycles of agriculture, well known for their honesty, integrity and charitable spirit.
Rich and Theresa had two children, son Troy born in 1970 and daughter Tricia born in 1974. Both children graduated from Hermiston High School as well as Washington State University. Rich and Theresa were very devoted parents, seeing to it that there was always at least one of them in the stands for every game, recital, horse show or any other event that Troy and Tricia might be involved with along the way.
Rich served on numerous boards and committees including Hermiston School Board, Oregon Potato Commission and National Potato Board, where Rich traveled extensively and was proud of the accomplishments towards opening up foreign trade borders for U.S. potato products. In 1985 Rich was recognized as Hermiston’s businessman of the year. Most recently Rich was very proud to be presented the Diamond Pioneer award by Oregon State University.
Rich ended up stepping away from the business somewhat in early 2000 to spend more time with Theresa, who had fought several bouts of cancer, which eventually took her life in 2008. Up until his own death, however, Rich stayed up to date with all of the dealings of the packing shed and farming operations being run by his son Troy and his business partner Greg Juul (McDevitt’s nephew), and always made himself available for his perspective and opinion regarding strategic decisions and direction of the businesses.
Rich was preceded in death by his parents, wife Theresa, and brother John. Left behind to carry on his relentless sense of personal values, integrity and kindness to others are his loving companion and fiancé Patty Matheny; sister Kathryn Niessner; son Troy (Lisa) Betz; daughter Tricia (Todd) Vallie; grandchildren Taylor Betz, 21, Blake Betz, 17, Tyson Fenley, 18, Ashlee Fenley, 13, Kristina Cagle, 27, and Jacob Vallie, 18; and several nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, the family would request that memorial contributions be sent in Rich’s honor to Made To Thrive, Meadowood Speech Camp, Trinity Lutheran Church or any other charity of personal preference.
Visitation will be on Thursday, December 5, 2019, from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. at Burns Mortuary chapel, Hermiston, Oregon. A celebration of life service will be held on Friday, December 6, 2019, at 10:30 a.m. at New Hope Community Church, 1350 S. Highway 395, Hermiston, Oregon. A private family burial will be held at the Hermiston Cemetery, Hermiston, Oregon.
Please share memories of Rich at burnsmortuaryhermiston.com. Arrangements by Burns Mortuary of Hermiston, Oregon.