The passing of Richard “Dick” Springer on Easter Sunday, April 9, 2023, came as a shock to his family and the community he served. Dick was born on January 25, 1948, in Portland, Oregon, to Joshua “Sam” and Vera Springer. He was 75 years old at the time of his passing. Dick’s family and friends will remember him as a loving and fun-loving intellectual, who had a passion for traveling and exploring the world’s historical landmarks, sampling local cuisines, and spending time on family property on Sauvie Island.
Dick attended Cleveland High School and graduated in 1966. He later enrolled at Princeton University, where he majored in Politics and was an active participant in the ROTC. After graduation, he served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, stationed on the USS Coral Sea during the Vietnam War. Upon completing his Navy service, he enrolled in the University of Oregon School of Law and passed the bar in 1978.
Politics and public service were an integral part of Dick’s life from a young age. His mother worked for Richard and Maureen Neuberger, who served as U.S. Senators for Oregon, and he interned for a year as a Senate page at the U.S. Capital just as the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights legislation were enacted. In 1981, Dick was elected to the Oregon Legislature as a Democrat representing S.E. and S.W. Portland. He served in the Oregon House and Senate for 16 years, including a term as Senate Majority Leader.
Throughout his political career, Dick was an ardent advocate for environmental and worker’s rights, sponsoring a nationally recognized recycling law, representing workers in the tort reform debate, and fighting against regressive taxation. He was an early advocate for gun safety legislation and women’s reproductive rights. Dick’s activism as a Democrat never wavered throughout his life. He was elected to the board of Portland Community College in 1986 and helped guide the college through difficult times. Along the way, he also served on the boards of the Portland Relief Nursery and Friends of the Columbia Gorge.
Dick’s legal career included acting as deputy and assistant District Attorney in Multnomah County, and working with the Pozzi, Wilson, Atchison Law firm for 17 years. After retiring from the legal profession, he turned to non-profit management and served as District Manager of the West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District until 2015.
Dick is survived by his loving partner of 20 years, Jan Coulton, his former wife, Diane Linn, and their two children, Josh and Tess Springer. He also leaves behind his brother, Tom Springer, and two grandchildren, Miles and Madeline Springer. Dick will be sorely missed by his many family and friends.
A celebration of life will be held on April 29, 2023, at the World Forestry Center’s Miller Hall. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Willamette Riverkeepers, or the Oregon Sierra Club. Sauvie Island will be Dick’s final resting place, where he enjoyed spending time with his family and friends.
Richard “Dick” Springer was a remarkable public servant, legal professional, and community member. He was an inspiration to many and made a significant impact on Oregon’s political, legal, and environmental landscapes. His legacy will live on through the countless people he touched and influenced throughout his life.