Cover photo for Dean Schwartz's Obituary
Dean Schwartz Profile Photo
1938 Dean 2024

Dean Schwartz

August 24, 1938 — June 30, 2024

Ellensburg, Washington

Born Aug. 24, 1938, he passed away at his home on June 30, 2024, at nearly 86 years of age. He was the second son born to Harry and Susie Schwartz living in Milton-Freewater, Oregon. The family of four later moved to Seattle, Washington. Dean learned early to work hard, and as a young man he developed a knack for mechanics and operating anything mechanical. As a young teenager he began working at a service station to earn money to buy a car.

As a young boy he loved raising animals especially rabbits and chickens. His brother Elmer who was nine years older, understandably was annoyed with this little guy who always wanted to tag along and get in the way of the fun he and his friends were having. Dean tells of Elmer relentlessly teasing him to the point that Dean would become so angry that he once tried to chop down a tree on the brother and his friends. No one was in any real danger, as Dean only had a hatchet and the tree was several inches thick. By the time Dean hit his early teen years, Elmer was out of the house and on his own – leaving Dean to find other ways to occupy his time.

To say he was a mischievous young man would be an understatement. If there was trouble to be found, he was in the middle of it or causing it! He had many stories he loved to share - like sneaking out at night with the neighbor girl's parent’s car along with two other friends. The four of them laughed the night away just cruising around town, mostly just enjoying each other’s company, but sometimes tossing eggs at cars from a bridge, or setting a pile of newspapers on fire in the middle of the road. It’s a wonder they never got caught. Fortunately no one ever got hurt and the neighbors never did quite figure out why their car got such bad gas mileage. He would tell stories about helping his buddy sneak out at night by leaving his trombone case in bed so the mom would think he was there asleep.

When they were young teenagers, the same neighbor girl later introduced him to her friend and classmate Waleeta Wredberg. Waleeta’s first impression of him was that he was a spoiled brat. However, Dean wasn’t the only one who could be mischievous. Dean loved chocolate, especially fudge. She once fed him fudge made with salt instead of sugar. He gobbled some down and then promptly got sick. He began frequently visiting her home astride his favorite horse Tony, where he would stand on the saddle to reach her upstairs window for long visits. Even though his parents gave him an allowance along with whatever money he earned doing odd jobs, he did not always spend it on himself. Waleeta talked about how frequently he would give her mother money to buy groceries when her father was away working and would forget to send money home; and also how he helped split wood to keep her family’s home warm and so she wouldn’t have do the splitting. Their friendship flourished and they decided to elope three months after Waleeta graduated from Auburn Adventist Academy. Dean would laughingly share about their drive to Coeur de Alene, Idaho to get married and how upon arrival at the courthouse the judge asked them for witnesses. They had none – didn’t realized they needed them, so in walked two state patrol officers. Dean shared how he immediately felt that he was going to get locked up by his future mother-in-law for “stealing” her daughter. Relieved at being told the officers would be their witnesses – the ceremony proceeded. They newlyweds settled in the Seattle area, both working hard to build a life together. The couple enjoyed many trips to Ross Lake along the Canadian border, camping and water skiing with friends.

About nine years into their marriage and after one daughter was born to the couple, Dean had the opportunity to become part owner in a service station near Burien, Washington – back when service stations were more than just a place to buy gas. Soon two more daughters were added to the family along with a move to a country home with two wooded acres and room for horses, cows – including a milk cow, goats, cats, a dog, chickens and a donkey.

In 1975 the family made the big move from Auburn to Ellensburg. They grew to love the area after frequent visits to long-time friends Paul and Marsha Cloutier. Tired of city life and wanting to give their girls an opportunity to truly live in the country, they settled just East of Ellensburg in a beautiful house with 5 acres and surrounded by lots of fields; plenty of room for all the accumulated animals and the family to grow.

Dean first worked at different odd jobs, including Jess Mudd’s Triangle Auto Parts store, and then found a job that well suited his wide skill set at Thorp School District as a custodian/maintenance staff and bus driver. He was there for nearly 6 years, gaining many friends and learning much about the valley and its residents. He then tried his hand for a time as an orchard manager for Derward Tozer out in the Badger Pocket area and then also worked for several years at Ellensburg Tire Center for Darryl Scully. All these jobs prepared him for his work at Kittitas Reclamation District - for what he called “working with the public” – working with a vast variety of people from all walks of life. Beginning first as a ditch rider for the first five years and then as the excavator operator. After working at KRD for 20 years, he retired to enjoy time with his wife and family and working on the farm.

Before retiring and at Waleeta’s insistence, they had gone on many carefully planned extended trips around the country. Driving all the way back to Boston Massachusetts and the New England states as well as taking in the Colorado Rockies and the mid-west, including the big trip all the way to northern Alaska in 1995. After retiring, the couple had just nine short years before Waleeta suddenly and tragically passed away in 2014. Dean often and readily admitted how right Waleeta was to insist on the trips even before they retired – since she had stated they may not be up to it or may not be able to do the trips.

So for the last 10 years since Waleeta’s passing, Dean has spent his time working on the farm, caring for the animals and the fields, helping neighbors and friends where he could and trying to live a life of meaning even though he dearly missed his wife.

Dean is survived by his three daughters June (Schwartz) Cross, Cheri (Schwartz) Redberg and Carissa Schwartz, along with four granddaughters and two grandsons – as well as Annie, Belle and Missy with their calves and a cat named Tommy. He also leaves behind Jeff Cummings whom Dean considered to be his adopted son. He was preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Susie Schwartz, older brother, Elmer Schwartz, Aunt Esther Williams as well as several uncles and aunts, his son-in-law, Frosty Cross, several cats, his faithful dog, Heidi and his beloved wife, Waleeta.

Services to be held at the Ellensburg Seventh-day Adventist Church, 415 W. 14th Ave., Ellensburg, July 13, 2024 at 4pm.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Dean Schwartz, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Starts at 4:00 pm (Pacific time)

Ellensburg Seventh-Day Adventist Church

415 W. 14th Ave, Ellensburg, WA 98926

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