Former Edmonds City Councilmember and long-time Edmonds resident Dick Van Hollebeke was remembered Monday for his devotion to the city he called home for more than four decades.
Van Hollebeke died Saturday after a prolonged battle with brain cancer. He was 80 years old.
The owner of Van Hollebeke Insurance & Financial Services in Edmonds from 1980 until 2011, Van Hollebeke was on the Edmonds City Council from 1995-1999. He also served on the the Edmonds Community College Foundation Board and the college’s Board of Trustees. The Washington State Association of College Trustees selected him for the 2016 Trustee of the Year Award, citing his leadership and service to the college and students during his 10 years of service from 2005-2015. He also served on the boards of the Edmonds Food Bank and the Edmonds Petanque Club.
“We have lost a treasure,” said Edmonds Food Bank Executive Director Casey Davis. “We send our deepest sympathies to Dick’s family and friends.”
Former Edmonds Mayor and City Councilmember Gary Haakenson served on the council with Van Hollebeke for four years. “He always put Edmonds first and his decision-making was driven by what he felt was the best result for Edmonds citizens,” Haakenson said. “He always tried to find common ground when council couldn’t reach an agreement on a vote. Even after leaving the council he continued to devote his time to the community. He will be missed.”
Former Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling also served on the city council with Van Hollebeke, recalling him as “a very good councilmember, throwing himself into his responsibilities. He was always prepared for meetings and served on outside committees related to council work, looking out for the best interest of the city. Dick was a decent, big-hearted man and it was a privilege to know and work with him,” Earling said.
An avid pentanque player, Van Hollebeke was one of the Edmonds Petanque Club’s first members, said current club President Jack McHenry.
“Dick was involved in the life of Edmonds in many ways, and it was Dick, particularly, who promoted the club’s support of the Edmonds Food Bank, where he had recently also joined the board,” McHenry said. Van Hollebeke was also a key liaison between the club and the Edmonds Parks Department as the city and the club developed and finalized plans for an enlarged petanque grove in the new Civic Park playfield, he added.
Among petanque players, Van Hollebeke will be remembered “for his unbounded enthusiasm, not just for petanque, but for all parts of life, and for the warm welcome that he extended to everyone,” McHenry said. “Dick taught many of us how to play the game, offering encouragement and patience. He loved the club for the challenge of the sport, but most of all for the community of friends who met at the courts. Dick was generous and warm. We have lost a close friend, and the club will miss him tremendously.”
An active member of Edmonds’ Holy Rosary Parish, Van Hollebeke sang in the choir “with his beautiful voice for many years,” Holy Rosary School Principal Sue Venable recalled.
“Dick would always greet you with a huge smile and a “how are you?’” Venable said. “Always showing interest and care for others. He enjoyed life and was very grateful to all around him.”
Van Hollebeke also co-founded the Creative Age Festival of Edmonds (CAFE), which ran for two years — in 2016 and 2017 — offering interactive classes and activities for retirement-aged adults.
“Dick was such a needed light in this community and beloved by so many,” said friend and colleague Carolyn Douglas, who worked with Van Hollebeke on the first CAFE festival.
Van Hollebeke is survived by his wife Monda and their six children.