Richard Ray Bjelland, Rick to all who knew him, passed away suddenly at home on December 23rd, 2016, in Bellingham, Washington. He was born in Seattle, to Ray and Hazel (Rich) Bjelland on August 23rd, 1947. Rick leaves behind his beloved wife, Janie Bjelland (Armstrong), who were together for 39 years. They were married on August 18th, 1979 in a quiet ceremony by the bay at their home on Chuckanut Avenue in Bellingham. In true Rick Bjelland fashion, it was quiet and simple with his closest friends and family. Besides his family, Rick’s greatest passion in life was music. He began playing professionally at the age of 14, as a saxophonist and vocalist, but also played the flute, clarinet, and percussions. Some of his bands included, Charlie and the Seniors, Inside Straight, Legacy, and most recently, The Rocky Vaselino Show who he also played with in the 70s. Rick’s other love was cars. He rally raced as a young adult, loved watching NASCAR and Indy racing, and worked as an auto-electrician for most of his life in Bellingham. Rick was passionate about nature. He took his family camping every year and taught his daughters all about the various plants and their uses. He was an avid animal lover, rescuing everything from crows and squirrels, to cats, dogs, and even once, a baby deer.
Rick grew up on his family’s farm, “Alderwood Manor” in Lynnwood, WA, where he developed his love and knowledge of plants and animals. His parents gardened and raised Highland Cattle, sheep, pigs, and Collies. He graduated from Meadowdale High School in 1965 and attended Western State College (Western Washington University) in Bellingham, graduating with his Teaching Certificate in 1969. Lovingly known as Mr. B, he began his teaching career in Brooklyn, WA, teaching all subjects and grades and directing the school’s music program. He later returned to teaching in 1999 in Whatcom and Skagit County. His work as an auto mechanic began at Southside Service in Bellingham, and he eventually formed his own private auto-electrical business.
Rick was a kind, gentle, and spiritual soul. He found his peace in nature, strolling along beaches, collecting rocks, and watching the sun set into the bay. Rick loved his quiet and alone time; he cherished his wife, daughters, sons-in-law, and grandsons, loving as much as he was loved. He is survived by his wife, Janie; his daughters, Richelle (Jeff) and Skyla (Mike); stepson Mason; and his grandsons, Calum, Kieran, and Tristan. He is predeceased by his parents, Ray and Hazel. The extraordinary depth of his passions and careers allowed him to touch the lives of so many, and he will be greatly missed by all. Though we are profoundly wounded by his death, we know that he will always be nearby in spirit, guiding, loving, and protecting his family.
A Memorial Service will be held for Rick on Saturday, January 7, 11:00am at Moles Farewell Tributes – Bellingham, 2465 Lakeway Dr.