ForeverMissed

Kurt Lynn Othberg, 74, dearly beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend to many, passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack, on February 10th, at his home in Walla Walla.

Read the full Obituary on the LIFE page.


EVENT DETAILS

A celebration of Kurt’s life will be held on Saturday, April 6th, at the Three Rivers Winery in Walla Walla.  Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/dYTzN9daMFK2

Please RSVPhttps://kurtothberg.wufoo.com/forms/rsvp-for-kurt-...

Schedule:

  • 12:30pm - Lunch catered by La Monarca Taco Truck
  • 1:30pm - Celebration remarks followed by open mic for impromptu remembrances. Dessert and wine served.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to the Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute (PCEI) in Moscow, ID, or the charity of one’s choice.

Posted by Susan Palmer on May 26, 2019
i carry your heart with me (by e. e. cummings)

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
                 i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
Posted by Kris Frost on May 12, 2019
Susan, I am so sorry for your loss.
Posted by Robert Greene on May 4, 2019
susan, I'm sorry to hear your sad news. Kurt was a strong presence and quiet strength. I am sorry his calmness as I knew him, is gone from your life. But his memory will be with you and warm you.
My condolences in this terrible time.
I will make a contribution to PCEI
Posted by Amber Randall on May 2, 2019
Hi Susan,
Today (May 2) is when I learned about Kurt. Wow. I'm just so sad and shocked. But what a true, loving, and soul-mate connection you two will always have. I'll never forget the story of how you got together/met, as it still makes me chuckle, but more importantly proves yet again that love has no limits or simple definitions. Even though we're in Bellingham, Sandy and I are here for you. Our thoughts are with you today, tomorrow, and forever. *Abrazos*
Posted by Susan Palmer on March 16, 2019
In memory of Kurt
Rest in peace, W. S. Merwin, who left us this simple poignant poem:

Separation

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.
Posted by Nancy Kress on March 8, 2019
Susan, thank you for posting that lovely expression of the meaning of love and grief. I'm so sorry for your loss. It may take some time before you can chart another course for your life. I continue to think fondly of you and wish you all the best as you deal with the poignant meaning of bereavement.
Posted by Ki Bealey on February 21, 2019
Kurt was a long-term member of the City's Water-Wastewater and Infrastructure Advisory Committees. It was always a pleasure to work with Kurt through his years of service. He consistently displayed compassion, integrity, kindness, and thoughtfulness. He has my thanks and appreciation and will be missed. RIP Kurt. Deepest sympathy to Kurt's family for their loss.
Posted by Susan Palmer on February 19, 2019
"Grief, I've learned, is really just love. It's all the love you want to give, but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in the hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go."   --Jamie Anderson (via Clare Sojourner Harris Palmer)

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Susan Palmer on May 26, 2019
i carry your heart with me (by e. e. cummings)

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
                 i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
Posted by Kris Frost on May 12, 2019
Susan, I am so sorry for your loss.
Posted by Robert Greene on May 4, 2019
susan, I'm sorry to hear your sad news. Kurt was a strong presence and quiet strength. I am sorry his calmness as I knew him, is gone from your life. But his memory will be with you and warm you.
My condolences in this terrible time.
I will make a contribution to PCEI
his Life

​Kurt Othberg, Walla Walla, WA (formerly of Moscow, ID)

Kurt Lynn Othberg, 74, dearly beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend to many, passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack, on February 10th, at his home in Walla Walla.

Kurt and his spouse, Susan Palmer, mutually supported their respective careers and one another by commuting between Walla Walla, WA and Moscow, ID for 17 of their 32 years together, after Susan accepted a faculty position at Walla Walla Community College. They managed to maintain their loving relationship on solid ground, despite the grinding weekly commute. Walla Walla became their permanent home in 2007 where they occupied a “piece of paradise,” cultivating an inviting space for large family gatherings. Kurt faithfully read The Seattle Times daily, printing out the Hocus Focus and Jumble puzzles to do with Susan, a practice they maintained throughout their marriage. When not commuting, they were like the letters Q and U, inseparable.

Kurt loved his family profoundly, was remarkably supportive of, and deeply engaged in the lives of his spouse, daughters, and grandchildren. “Abuelo and Abuela” were devoted to their grandchildren. During various school breaks, Kurt found time to expertly plan excursions and activities with grandchildren visiting their home, which he lovingly nicknamed “Camp Abuelo.” Kurt also enjoyed an unusually close relationship with his in-laws, Neil and Evelyn Palmer.

A joyous soul, Kurt loved jazz, the outdoors, summer camping trips with Susan, his children, and grandchildren. He enjoyed hiking, biking, rowing in his handmade wooden row boat, and above all sailing, especially winding through the San Juan Islands with family and friends. Always a cat lover, Kurt leaves behind pets, Neblina and Nublado, who thought Kurt was the cat’s meow. Kurt was also known worldwide for his love affair with his Volvos over the years!

He was a builder and a fixer, built three houses, loved a home project, and never met a challenge he didn’t enjoy tackling, be it at home, at work, or in his garage. His visits to his daughters in Seattle were always the source of great anticipation. Kurt was invariably met with long lists of “Dad’s To-Dos”—an assortment of broken door locks, fixtures, appliances, and myriad electrical and mechanical issues that would send any lesser dad running. He embraced it all with great enthusiasm and joy, succeeded (more times than not) in fixing whatever needed fixing, and enjoyed the results of his “dad labor” with cold Coronas at the end of the day, followed by his favorite evening libation—a splash of Cutty Sark scotch by the fireplace, after a family dinner.

Kurt particularly enjoyed a long and lasting deep friendship with Loudon Stanford of Moscow, ID, with whom he conducted geologic research and mapping. His love for science was shared with Loudon in many research trips and adventures afield. Together they laughed, hiked, sailed, camped, rowed, and retreated into the Sawtooth Mountains whenever they could.

Kurt was a nationally-recognized geologist who directed the Idaho Geological Survey (IGS) and taught at three colleges and two universities. Known for his easy laugh, keen intellect, and scientific curiosity, Kurt maintained a busy schedule and active research agenda, even in retirement. His specialties included geomorphology, environmental geology, earthquakes, and geological mapping.

Kurt was born Aug. 8, 1944, in Denver, CO to Richard Charles Othberg and Jean Agnes Irwin Othberg. He attended school at Western Washington State College (now University) in Bellingham, earning a bachelor’s degree in science education. Kurt then joined the U.S. Navy, serving as an officer aboard the USS Enterprise during the Vietnam War, including when the Enterprise experienced an accidental explosion and major fire in January of 1969. Kurt dutifully served his country, but was known for being a lifelong advocate for peace.

After his honorable discharge from the Navy in 1970, Kurt enrolled at the University of Washington, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in geological sciences. He then returned to Western, earning a master’s degree in 1973, writing a thesis about the paleomagnetism of the Pleistocene sediments of the Puget lowland of Washington. He became a geologist for the Washington State Division of Geology and Earth Resources in Olympia, while teaching geology part time at The Evergreen State College and Tacoma Community College.

In 1980, Kurt moved to Moscow, ID, where he was a senior geologist for the Idaho Bureau of Mines and Geology (now the Idaho Geological Survey) based at the University of Idaho. He completed his Ph.D. in 1991. His doctoral dissertation was titled “Geology and Geomorphology of the Boise Valley and Adjoining Areas, Western Snake River Plain, Idaho.”

Much admired by colleagues and the profession, he was a prolific reader and writer, co-authoring over 100 papers and geologic maps, in a career that spanned over 40 years. As a testament to his love of work and science, Kurt retired in 2011, but continued to work part time for the Idaho Geological Survey (IGS) until his passing.

Dedicated to furthering earth science education throughout Idaho and nationally, he served as an academic mentor to numerous students during his long career. He spearheaded and led annual summer workshops for Idaho educators of K-12 earth science—an IGS partnership with the Idaho Science Teachers Association (in which he was actively involved for many years).

In addition to his spouse, Susan Palmer, survivors include three daughters, Alina Carol Othberg (Marco V. Pinheiro) of Normandy Park, WA, Miranda Rose Othberg (Brad Falletta) of West Seattle, WA, and Erin Meredith Palmer Esteban (Julio Esteban Mejia) of Renton, WA. He is also survived by his sister, Anita Othberg Thompson (Ed Thompson) of Bellingham, WA, his brother, Kent Othberg (Regina Knake Othberg) of Las Vegas, NV, and eight grandchildren: Logan, Rosa, April, Melonie, Kurt, Janelle, Isabelle and Adrian, and many beloved nieces and nephews.

Cremation services were arranged by Mountain View-Colonial DeWitt in Walla Walla, WA. A celebration of Kurt’s life will be held on Saturday, April 6th in Walla Walla. Celebration details will be available at kurt-othberg.forevermissed.com. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to the Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute (PCEI) in Moscow, ID, or the charity of one’s choice.

Recent stories

​For Kurt Othberg

Shared by Miranda Rose on May 18, 2019

A Poem by Michael Kiefel

“Always the captain,”

         his true love Susan and his best friend Loudon said of Kurt

             on managing the sailboat,

not because Kurt demanded the role,

        but because his commanding knowledge

of how to angle each sail to catch the wind

how to veer the craft was clear to all of them---

the wind and sea had met their match.

All that he undertook involved his quiet moves toward excellence,

      even and especially his hummus

which was in itself such smooth sailing

                  of garlic and lemon juice     spices and garbanzos,

     who wouldn’t want to climb aboard this pleasure cruise,

          go back for more     no real hunger just mindless indulgence.

(How could Kurt, the rational scientist, create what could make you cray-cray?)

His garage would meet the Curtis Phillips Standard of Neatness:

         not a spot of oil on the floor, not a socket wrench out of place,

   however many hours Kurt spent fixing a valve or fine-tuning the timing,

             just the way he’d check every jib as carefully as he would the mainsail on the mast.

When Kurt and Susan hosted an event, Kurt cheerfully navigated around the tables,

          collecting empty bottles and finished plates,

                and if folks were still dining, he’d ask if they needed a refill.

He’d lean back, tall and thin, smiling at the lively chatter and laughter,

      happy to make sure everyone was taken care of.

Kurt would not be afraid of going down with the ship, but his leaving seems very much instead

       a matter of checking the waters ahead, so that our hopes remain buoyant,

               until we find our own mooring berth in the harbor.   

---Michael Kiefel    

W. H. Auden "Funeral Blues"

Shared by Susan Palmer on March 13, 2019

Kurt and I watched Four Weddings and a Funeral several times over the years. Every time we both wept at the recitation of this poem.

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message 'He is Dead'.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Eulogy for a book lover: Titles loved and cherished by a late companion

Shared by Miranda Rose on February 19, 2019

From the Moscow-Pullman Daily News

By Chris Sokol   |   Feb 16, 2019 Updated Feb 17, 2019

Eulogy for a book lover: Titles loved and cherished by a late companion

-----

Last weekend, a dear family friend passed away unexpectedly. Kurt had been a geologist for the Idaho Geological Survey and loved science. In his leisure time, he devoured books, scientific journals and audiobooks. We used to exchange reading recommendations. In tribute to Kurt and his wide-ranging, infectious curiosity about the world, I’d like to share with you some of his favorite books that I know about. Maybe his reading legacy will live on by sparking your own interest.

An avid birder and nature enthusiast along with his wife, Susan, Kurt was captivated by “The Genius of Birds” by Jennifer Ackerman. Before they moved from Moscow to Walla Walla, they enjoyed honing their bird identification skills with the library CDs “Bird Songs of the Pacific States” by Tomas Sander, “Western Bird Songs” by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and “Birdsongs of the Pacific Northwest” by Martyn Stewart. Kurt clued me in to the excellent book, “Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis” by Kim Todd. After moving to Walla Walla, that city’s public library became a favorite haunt of his.

Kurt grew up on the Puget Sound. His early career, after serving in the Navy during the Vietnam War, was spent working as a geologist for the Washington Department of Natural Resources. Somewhere along the line, Kurt developed excellent sailing skills. A couple of times, he and Susan leased a sailboat along with our family for a glorious week spent winding through the San Juan Islands. Not surprisingly, Kurt enjoyed fiction and nonfiction related to sailing and the open sea. But his reading interests ranged far and wide.


When I was selecting books for our library system as the adult services librarian, I would often tell Kurt about books I thought he might like. He was so pleased to learn about the nonfiction World War II book “Heart of Oak” by Tristan Jones, “Sailing Alone Around the World” by Joshua Slocum and the “Richard Bolitho” naval history fiction series by Alexander Kent. Kurt, in turn, told me about former Moscow resident Gregory Newell Smith’s collection of memoir essays, “The Solitude of the Open Sea,” so I bought it for the library. A couple of years ago, the Rocky Mountain Section of the Geological Society of America held its annual meeting in Moscow. I tried in vain to order a field trip guide published for the conference, “Exploring the Geology of the Inland Northwest” (edited by Reed S. Lewis and Keegan L. Schmidt). Kurt volunteered to get a copy (thanks to his GSA membership) and it is now part of the library’s circulating collection.

Kurt was a longtime friend of and colleague at the Idaho Geological Survey with my husband, Loudon — both great fans of Patrick O’Brian’s “Jack Aubrey-Stephen Maturin” series of nautical historical novels set during the Napoleonic Wars, especially the downloadable audiobooks narrated by Simon Vance. Each listened to the whole series; later, one of them would pick up listening to the series yet another time, tell the other, and they’d be sharing the adventures all over again.

I asked Loudon to recall a few of the other books he and Kurt had enjoyed and discussed. Herman Wouk was a favorite author, with “The Caine Mutiny,” “The Winds of War” and its sequel, “War and Remembrance.” Kurt loved the Soviet-era classic novel “Dr. Zhivago” by Boris Pasternak; Loudon couldn’t get into the book. It took some time for Loudon to convince Kurt to listen to the “Horatio Hornblower” audiobook series by C.S. Forester, but he finally came around to enjoying them. Not long ago, Kurt had recommended “Jack London: An American Life” by Earle Labor, and now it’s on Loudon’s list. Other beloved books they shared include “The Vikings: A History” by Robert Ferguson, “Das Boot” by Lothar-Günther Buchheim, “The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition” by Caroline Alexander, and the classic three-volume biography of Winston Churchill, “The Last Lion” by William Manchester.


With Kurt as my inspiration, I’ve placed a Valnet catalog hold on the new book “Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World” by geology professor Marcia Bjornerud. I’ll miss exchanging book recommendations with him, but I treasure what he was able to pass along to us. I hope this incomplete depiction of Kurt’s rich reading life may stir someone to pick up a book and read.


Chris Sokol is director of the Latah County Library District.