Architect and lifelong Spokane resident Donald Neraas, who left his mark on the design of many local buildings, including St. John’s Cathedral, died Saturday. He was 76.
Neraas, a graduate of Lewis and Clark High School, began his career at the age of 16, working for Whitehouse and Price, the architecture firm that helped with the design of the landmark South Hill church.
“He knew he wanted to be an architect from the time he was eight,” said daughter Julie Neraas. “He was so congruent with who he was as a person.”
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Oregon, Neraas returned to Spokane, where he has had a hand in the design of hundreds of projects, including churches, retirement communities and housing developments. He started his own practice in 1957 and was known for his lectures on Spokane and Northwest history.
Neraas had a special interest in the design of churches and chapels, his family said. He traveled to Tanzania, Nigeria, Israel, Egypt, China and Ireland, helping with the design of buildings there.
“One of his fondest relationships was with St. George’s College and Anglican Center in East Jerusalem, where he designed a library, education center and museum,” Julie Neraas said. Her father made 20 trips to Israel for the projects, she said.
“He was truly an extraordinary liturgical artist,” Julie Neraas said.
Neraas also served on the boards of more than 30 local organizations, including as trustee of the Spokane Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, Goodwill Industries, Trinity Lutheran College and the Westerners, and he was a founding member of the Spokane Racquet Club.
He was a lifetime member of Central Lutheran Church.
He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Beverly; four daughters and three sons-in-law, Julie Neraas, of Minneapolis; Kathryn and Harry Cartales and Nancy and Mike King, all of Seattle; and Amy and Bill Barber, of Gig Harbor, Wash.; and five grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Inland Northwest Architectural Foundation, Foundation Northwest, Central Lutheran Church or St. George’s College in Jerusalem.