Richard Kenneth Brenner
Richard Kenneth Brenner, age 85, loving and devoted father and husband, passed away on September 10, 2023. He left this world peacefully: at home, with his daughters by his side, and listening to his favorite jazz album. He had no regrets and was ready to move on, after a long and difficult battle with bladder cancer.
Richard was born August 27, 1938 in St. Maries, Idaho to Lois Marie (Featherngill) Gillespie and Kenneth Mark Brenner. He grew up in multiple locations around the Pacific Northwest including Colfax, Pullman, and Renton, Washington, and Beaverton, Oregon. Growing up, Richard was active in the Boy Scouts and an avid outdoorsman. His favorite childhood memories included camping, hunting, and fishing in Eastern Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Canada. An accomplished bow-hunter, he competed in archery competitions as a young man and even decades later, remained a crack shot. He was also a HAM radio enthusiast, acquiring his own amateur radio license at the age of 10 and maintaining it with the same call sign (W7VGO) for 75 years. It was by listening to faraway stations on his shortwave radio as a youth that he discovered one of his other great passions: jazz music.
After graduating from Beaverton high school in 1956, Richard enlisted in the US Navy, in which he served until 1960, followed by another six years in the US Navy Reserve. While on active duty, he served on a seaplane tender, the USS Pine Island, made multiple tours of the Pacific and worked his way up to operating the ship’s radio systems. He also enjoyed some of his best adventures, discovering the people and cultures of Asia, and catching live shows by legendary jazz artists like Erroll Garner and Dave Brubeck while on “liberty” in San Francisco.
After his time in the military, Richard went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Humanities and a Master’s in Business Administration from Portland State University. He also remained committed to public service, serving in roles ranging from Beaverton public library board member to president of the local Jaycees chapter. He worked for the Washington County tax assessor’s office for nearly a decade, before striking out on his own in the 1970s to become a self-employed real estate broker and appraiser for nearly five decades.
Around the same time, he discovered cycling and became a member of the Portland Wheelmen Touring Club. Always a tinkerer, he got an idea for a way to make a standard bicycle collapsible and invented what he called the “Stow-a-Bike'' system, forming his own company: Biped Energy Systems. True to form, he even patented his invention, prosecuting the claim on his own after teaching himself the process by studying books at the Lewis & Clark law library. For decades, cycling remained one of his favorite activities. Even into his seventies, Richard was well-known around Forest Grove, Oregon for using his bike as a primary mode of transportation and was often seen cruising the roads of western Washington County, including on his favorite creation: a thirty mile “tour de suburbia” ride through all the major westside subdivisions that was nearly impossible to navigate without GPS. Later in life, he also discovered other new (and quirky) hobbies, such as racing homing pigeons as a member of the Tualatin Valley Racing Pigeon Club. Always fiercely independent, he delighted in rolling to his own tune and at his own pace.
One of his biggest joys and accomplishments in life, however, was being a parent. After he married Nellie Sue Brenner (Stephens) on November 12th, 1980, he had two daughters and spent much of the rest of his career devoted to nurturing their education and development. Later in life, he told his family that being a father was the best and most important job he could have ever had.
He is survived by his wife Nellie Sue Brenner of Forest Grove, Oregon, his daughters Kendra Marie Swartz and Alletta Sue Brenner of Portland, Oregon and their children, as well as by his step-children, Cecilia Ann Brungard, John Anthony Brungard and Tea Arianne Teirlynck, and a half-sister, Janetta Sue Mashburn. A memorial service will be held on September 30, 2023 at 11:00 am at the Forest Grove United Methodist Church, located at 1726 Cedar Street, Forest Grove, OR 97116, with a graveside service at 2:30 pm at the Old Scotch Church, located at 30685 NW Scotch Church Rd, Hillsboro, OR 97124
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