Richard Douglas Nakata died on October 16, 2023 from complications from liver cancer at St. Michael’s Hospital. He was 70 years old and lived on Bainbridge Island for the majority of his life.
He was born on April 4, 1953 at Doctor’s Hospital in Seattle to Gerald and Sueko Nakata. He grew up on 20th and Marion in the Central District and attended TT Minor Elementary School. The family moved to Bainbridge Island in August 1961, where he attended McDonald School, Commodore Junior High, and Bainbridge High School. After graduating in 1971, Rick attended Olympic Junior College and played baseball. He graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1975.
While in high school, Rick went to work for the family grocery store: Town and CountryThriftway. He was the longest tenured employee, at a staggering 56 years. Rick’s pride and joy at T&C was the readerboard, which was unique for a grocery store in that it was for community announcements instead of advertising. Any group who wanted an announcement could have sent in an email, but Rick made them come in person, reasoning, “Maybe they’d buy something.” He and his partner in crime, cousin Glen Nakata, would also use the readerboard to spread the word of any local sporting achievement. Chief among them were the BHS basketball team playing in the 2007 state title game, BI Little League going to the Little League World Series, pro cyclist Kiel Reijnen racing at the highest level, JR Ritchie being drafted in the first round of the 2022 MLB draft, and golfer Stephanie Davis at the finals of the US Women’s Amateur.
In 1977, at the recommendation of his Uncle Mo, Rick learned Transcendental Meditation (TM). From that time forward, TM became a daily part of his life. Rick traveled around the country learning advanced meditation techniques and participating in assemblies for world peace and making friends. He hosted introductory lectures at his home and liked to help and encourage new meditators. He was always helpful and supportive of members in the community.
As a proud islander, Rick was an active volunteer in the community. He was a member of Kitsap Athletic Roundtable, championing athletes from BI for the Kitsap Athletic Hall of Fame. Rick served on a Diversion Therapy Council for troubled youth and in 2022, he volunteered at the BI Community Vaccine Clinic. He volunteered for many years at the annual BIJAC Mochi Tsuki Festival and participated in the annual presentation of Japanese American Incarceration at Woodward Middle School.
Rick was an athlete, playing baseball and basketball in his youth. He was an avid cyclist, participating in the early years of Chilly Hilly and Seattle to Portland rides. He had a single digit handicap in golf, playing for many years at Meadowmeer Golf and Country Club. Being an avid movie buff led Rick to be an expert in TVs and high end audio equipment.
Rick is best summed up by one of his best friends Paul Thompson, “He was unique with an enthusiasm and wonderful sense of humor that made him a joy to be around. He made the world a better place for all of us. He is well loved and will be missed.”
He is survived by his siblings, Kathleen and Gerald, sister-in-law Yuka, and niece Kristi. He was preceded in death by his parents, Gerald and Sueko Nakata. Rick’s wish was not to have a service, and for donations to be made to the Bainbridge Island Volunteer Firefighters Association, Helpline House, and the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Association.
See a photo gallery of Rick here.
Arrangements entrusted to Cook Family Funeral Home of Bainbridge Island, WA.