Cover photo for Richard "Rich" Brightman's Obituary
Richard "Rich" Brightman Profile Photo
1933 Richard 2020

Richard "Rich" Brightman

November 12, 1933 — September 18, 2020

Richard Wharry Brightman (“Rich”) passed away peacefully on September 18, 2020 after a long battle with Lewy Body Disease. His wife, Kay Brightman, and daughters were blessed to share time with him in his final days in spite of the Covid pandemic thanks to hospice care and a wonderful skilled nursing facility where he spent his final days. He was the light of his wife’s life and greatly beloved and admired by his two daughters, Shannon Brightman and Alison Stokes.

Rich was born in Evanston, Illinois, spent a few years with his mother at a boys’ school in Colorado and then moved with her to Laguna Beach, California where he enjoyed a “beach bum” life during his high school years. He enlisted in the Navy after one semester of college where he not only found direction for his life, but enjoyed the wonderful benefits of the GI Bill which helped pay for his education starting with two years at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California. He married Kay in 1957 during that time, having met her while participating in various musical groups in Orange County, California. He was highly successful in his studies and transferred to Stanford University where he received a B.A. in economics, followed by an MBA at Stanford University Business School. He then decided to go into teaching and returned to Orange Coast College where he spent his entire career as a professor and administrator. His favorite position was as Dean of Instruction and he was very supportive of the teachers there. He was fortunate to have started his career teaching business and data processing, as the
MacMillan Company hired him to write many textbooks at college level, which over the years covered data processing and then evolved into personal computers.

Rich had other interests outside of teaching. He played oboe, English horn and oboe d’amore professionally for most of his working life. Even in retirement he continued to play with community groups along with his wife, Kay, including the Woodlands Theater in Kettle Falls, playing in the pit orchestra for musicals for a number of years. He also was instrumental in forming two small instrumental ensembles, Vivace and Windjam, and greatly enjoyed playing with them for many years in the Colville-Kettle Falls area. He loved classical, jazz and Broadway music, taught himself banjo and even dabbled in bluegrass. He passed on this love of music to both his daughters and Shannon continues to find it relaxing to compose electronic music. He also spent time doing woodworking, a talent carried forward by his daughter, Alison. He built beautiful model airplanes starting in his youth, but didn’t find it so rewarding to fly his planes and have them crash! He later turned to making a number of beautifully finished clocks as well as furniture. He completely refinished and restored an upright grand reproducing piano and also built a fine quality harpsichord.

In retirement in Colville, WA, he contributed his talents to several community organizations including Habitat for Humanity and First Congregational UCC Church. Friends and colleagues alike speak highly of his contributions and remember him as a kind, caring and compassionate individual. He was a wonderful listener, who could summarize what he had heard and sometimes offer a perfect solution to a problem. His wife, Kay, was so proud of all his talents.

He also travelled extensively with Kay on many international trips via sailboat, touring groups with Road Scholar and cruises. In the last few years, he had so many wonderful conversations with his daughters, Shannon and Alison, and was greatly blessed by their love and attention.

He was proceeded in death by his mother, Mildred Elizabeth Brightman and father, Albert Brown Brightman. He is survived by his wife, Kay, his daughters, Shannon and Alison, along with their husbands Doug Barone and Mike Stokes and two grandchildren, Aidan and Cecilly Stokes. He will be sorely missed by all. Donations can be made to the Lewy Body Dementia Association via their website,

Arrangments are entrusted to Cook Family Funeral Home on Bainbridge Island, WA

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Richard "Rich" Brightman, please visit our flower store.


Visits: 1

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree