The town of Republic is mourning the loss of one of its most prominent businessmen.
Louie Dragnich, 82, was killed Tuesday evening in a crash on U.S. Highway 395 near Colville. His wife, Vivian Dragnich, 79, was taken to Deaconess Medical Center where she remained in critical condition on Wednesday.
“The town’s kind of in shock over this deal,” said Stan Webber, a former Republic city councilman and a friend of the family.
Dragnich graduated from Republic High School in 1942 and started logging soon after, said his classmate and friend Romie Hilderbrant.
He bought the Chevy dealership in Republic in 1955 and renamed it Dragnich Chevrolet. Dragnich sent a picture of the dealership to The Spokesman-Review this month for the paper’s historical photograph feature, “Looking Back.” Coincidentally, the picture ran Wednesday, the same day as a story about the car crash.
Besides logging, Dragnich was active in real estate and construction and often had paperwork on his land deals stuffed in his shirt pocket, said Clint Brown, a friend who logged with Dragnich.
“He had a little twinkle in his eye,” Brown said. “I called him the Godfather.”
When the town flooded, Dragnich was there to help, and when the schools needed him, he offered his assistance, said Republic resident Linda Thiele.
“He was just always around and always into things,” said Dragnich friend and retired logger Bill Bangs. “Everyone in Republic will miss him.”
The Dragniches raised three sons and a daughter.
“Vivian raised her children. When the kids were gone, she took care of Louie. If he went up in the woods, she went with him,” Thiele said. “They have been pillars of this community ever since I can remember.”
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