South County Fire commissioner Richard Schrock, 74, dies

Schrock played key roles in merging fire- and police-related agencies. “He left an imprint.”

Richard Schrock

Richard Schrock

LAKE STICKNEY — A sitting South County Fire commissioner, with a reputation for being both clinical and strong-willed, has died.

Richard Schrock played key roles in several recent mergers of police- and fire-related agencies: the union of the 911 dispatch centers SNOPAC and SNOCOM; the resulting agency Snohomish County 911’s union with emergency radio support agency SERS; and the formation of South County Fire.

He died of cancer, according to the fire district. He was 74.

Schrock had interviewed to be appointed to a vacant seat on the Fire District 1 Board of Commissioners in 2010.

At the time he knew little about the fire service, and his attitude seemed fairly laid back, recalled Bob Meador, a retired Lynnwood fire chief who has served on the board for over a decade.

“So when he became as involved as he did, it kind of surprised me,” Meador said. “I certainly misjudged him. … Mainly when a guy proves himself, and that he’s working harder than anybody on an issue, you have to respect that.”

Schrock ran unopposed in 2011, and he was re-elected with 66 percent of votes in 2015.

Once he sunk his teeth into a project, it became his focus in life. He could be gruff, pounding his fist on the table to make sure his point was heard. Some people didn’t like that, Meador said. Yet he was the member the board turned to when they needed a statement for the press, or to draw up a resolution. He would often process his thoughts by writing them out.

Schrock had a background in politics, and he was the voice in the room asking: “Is it sellable? Is it doable? Can we get the votes?”

He drew on four years of experience as the director of the state Commerce and Economic Development Department in the early 1980s.

“Years from now people will say: ‘Well, when Dick was here this is what happened.’ He left an imprint,” Meador said. “That’s important.”

He also was a founding board member of the Lake Stickney Conservancy, in his home neighborhood.

He ran for state insurance commissioner as a Republican in 2016. He received 34 percent of the vote.

South County Fire was formed in 2017, in a merger between Lynnwood and Fire District 1. Schrock became a board member of the new fire authority.

He chaired a funding committee for the Snohomish County Emergency Radio System, or SERS, that explained to voters why the county’s aging 911 radio system needed to be replaced. The measure passed.

Schrock was private about his illness. He died May 12.

A celebration of life is scheduled for next month.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; Twitter: @snocaleb.

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