Longtime Spokane Valley businessman Richard “Dick” Behm Jr., a driving force in the city’s incorporation, died Monday at age 80 after suffering a stroke following heart bypass surgery. His funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 3606 S. Schafer Road.
Behm had been a fixture in the community since he moved here in 1950 shortly after marrying his high school sweetheart, Ivah. His father founded Behm’s Valley Creamery, and Behm took over the business in the early 1970s when his father retired. He also owned a bottling and beverage company.
But Behm was best known for his advocacy. He worked hard on city incorporation and was such a reliable fixture at council meetings that he was named an honorary council member. He was a longtime member of the Spokane Valley Business Association and earlier this year was named the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce volunteer of the year. He fought the federal government for 10 years to get the Chester Creek flood plain map altered so hundreds of residents and business owners no longer had to pay for expensive flood insurance.
Behm was “way involved from the word go,” said former Spokane Valley Mayor Mike DeVleming. “I remember Dick sitting in the front row of literally every single meeting.”
He stayed friends with Behm after he left the council, DeVleming said. “A lot of times Dick and I disagreed on things, but Dick was the kind that wouldn’t hold it against you,” he said.
“He wasn’t afraid to give his opinion,” said Councilman Bill Gothmann. “We’ve lost a tremendous advocate for Spokane Valley issues. We’re going to have a big hole in our hearts and in our city because of his passing.”
“He was a lot of things to a lot of different people,” said his son Rob Behm. “I would call him the defender of Spokane Valley. I don’t know anybody that had as much pride in the Valley as he did, other than my grandpa.”
Behm was heavily involved in the Lutheran church and the Boy Scouts, serving as a Cub master and a Scout master. He recently received an award recognizing 60 years of involvement in Scouting, his son said. “He was very, very proud of that,” he said. “We are now a four-generation Scouting family.”
Behm celebrated his wedding anniversary earlier this year. “He was so in love with his wife, our mom, and would do anything for her,” his son said. “They were such a team and ran the creamery together.”
His daughter Karen Behm remembers fondly the numerous family road trips taken over the years. “I’ve always considered myself lucky to have Dad as my dad,” she said.
Behm was an avid outdoorsman who loved to fish and hunt. In recent years his family would occasionally bring up the subject of retirement. “He wouldn’t even talk with you about it,” his son said. “It just wasn’t even an option for him. He was doing what he loved.”
But in recent months Behm had stopped attending every council meeting when his wife became ill, though he still came and addressed the council on topics he felt were important. “It’s a struggle,” said his daughter. “She’s lost a lot of her vigor. She doesn’t know what she’s going to do without him.”
Behm is survived by his wife Ivah, daughter Karen Behm, sons Rob Behm and Ken Behm, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to the Inland Northwest Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the American Diabetes Association or a charity of choice.