EVERETT — Dave Aldrich, a Snohomish County PUD commissioner remembered for his foresight and intellect, has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 69.
Aldrich was first elected in 2002. He stepped down from the commission at the end of last year, as his health worsened.
He died Jan. 16. His family, in their obituary notice, praised the EvergreenHealth hospice in Kirkland for making sure his “final days were pain-free, peaceful and dignified.”
Before seeking elected office, Aldrich enjoyed an varied career, including a shot at playing professional baseball as a young man, according to the obituary. When injuries and fate steered him in other directions, he went on to work as a computer programmer, middle school teacher, insurance adjuster and accident reconstructionist.
By the 1990s, he was employed as an analyst with the PUD’s Board of Commissioners, where he would later serve. That’s when Kathy Vaughn met him. Within a few years, Vaughn was elected to the commission. Aldrich joined her there in 2003, after his successful run for office.
Though thoughtful and quiet in disposition, “He lived and breathed energy,” Vaughn said. “He was an innovative thinker. Many times, he was ahead of the curve.”
Vaughn, in particular, noted Aldrich’s commitment to conservation, which provided a cheaper alternative to generating more power to meet customer demand.
Commission President Tanya “Toni” Olson got to know Aldrich while they were both utility employees. Following her retirement, Olson ran for and won a spot on the commission, two years after Aldrich.
“He is without a doubt, the most extraordinary, dedicated commissioner I have ever worked with,” she said. “His strategic vision was just exemplary.”
Aldrich helped shift the PUD’s focus toward renewable energy, which supplies the overwhelming majority of its power. Olson said they coined the term “green-power utility” to emphasize their focus on efficiency and the environment.
“A very solid person,” she said. “I always had great confidence in his views, his perspective.”
The local PUD is the largest publicly managed utility in Washington and the second-largest in the Pacific Northwest. It provides electrical service to more than 337,000 customers in Snohomish County and on Camano Island. It also provides water to more than 20,000 customers through supplies purchased from the city of Everett. A three-person board oversees the organization.
Aldrich was re-elected to six-year terms on the commission in 2008 and 2014. A resident of Everett, he represented District 1, which also covers north Snohomish County and Camano Island.
Born in New York state, his family moved to California while he was an infant, his obituary says. He grew up as the eldest of five children in Concord, California.
A star pitcher in high school, he was drafted in 1965 by the New York Mets in Major League Baseball’s first amateur draft, according to his obituary. He decided instead to play at the University of California, Berkeley, but injuries derailed his athletic career.
Aldrich is survived by his wife of 48 years, Toni. They had been together since high school.
Other survivors include a son, David; a daughter, Kelly and her husband, Jesse Miller; two grandchildren; his sister, Liz Aldrich, and a brother, Jim Aldrich.
The obituary calls him a music lover, reader and prolific writer. He created a blog, The Snohomish Observer, where until last month he wrote eloquent posts about his illness, politics, social justice and other topics.
Aldrich’s family has asked people who knew him to share stories at a celebration of his life planned for 11 a.m. Feb. 4, at the Snohomish County PUD auditorium on 2320 California St., Everett.
In lieu of flowers, family members asked for donations to the Snohomish County PUD’s Project PRIDE, which provides grants to help families of scarce means pay utility bills. Checks addressed to “Project PRIDE” can be sent to St. Vincent de Paul, P.O. Box 2269 Everett, WA 98213.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; email@example.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.
PUD commission vacancy
The Snohomish County PUD is accepting applications to fill the late Commissioner Dave Aldrich’s former District 1 seat, representing the Everett area, north Snohomish County and Camano Island. The job is nonpartisan. Eligible candidates are encouraged to send a letter of interest to the Clerk of the Board at P.O. Box 1107, Everett, WA 98206-1107. The deadline is 5 p.m. Feb. 7. Applicants should include a summary of their education, work experience and a statement about why they want the job.
To be eligible, applicants must be 18 or older and a U.S. citizen registered to vote in District 1. More info: www.snopud.com/AboutUs/Leadership/commission.ashx?p=1236.