Vincent Radtke
Vincent Radtke
Vincent Radtke
Vincent Radtke
Vincent Radtke
Vincent Radtke

Obituary of Vincent Dennis Radtke

Vince died peacefully on September 10, 2023 at the age of 93 after having most all of his family visit him prior to passing.  He was preceded in death by his wife, Clara Lee, his brother, Delmar, his parents, Emil and Verna Radtke and his first wife, Charmee Geppart. 


Vince was born on August 9th 1930 at home on the kitchen table in Springfield MN.  He was baptized and confirmed at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Springfield MN.  He was the younger of the 2 boys.  He grew up working on the family farm and attending school in Springfield. 


On December 24th 1951, he married Charmee Geppart and moved to Tacoma, WA.  They shared 4 children together, Clarene Smith (Larry) of Tacoma, Denise Tjelde (Steve) of Tacoma, Kathy Radtke – Deceased, Dennis Radtke of Tacoma, as well as 10 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren. 


On May 11th 1966, he married the love of his life, Clara Lee Kapovich Bahr Radtke, in Bonners Ferry, Idaho.  They were fortunate enough to spend 51 years together.  He became “Dad” to Ron Bahr (Linda) of Bellingham, Bryon Bahr (Krestin) of Gig Harbor, James Bahr (Brenda) of Puyallup as well as to 2 foster children, David Nordtvedt of Tacoma and Beverly Catano (Jessie) of Spanaway.  With Clara Lee, he shared 14 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren and 6 great great grandchildren. 


Vince joined the Army (11th Airborne Division) in 1948 as a paratrooper.  He was involved in the Korean War where he earned 3 Bronze Stars, the Combat Infantry Award, and the Korean Service Medal. He was honorably discharged in 1953. 


Vince was a life-long mechanic. He worked as a mechanic and garage supervisor for the State of Washington for 30 years.  He also had his own auto repair shop in Lakewood and Parkland prior to and after retiring from the State of Washington.   


Vince and Clara Lee were heavily involved with Christmas Around the World and Santa’s Surplus for over 10 years.  Selling Christmas decorations and other Christmas wares during this time allowed them to earn trips to 35 different countries around the world including Kenya, New Zealand, Greenland, Germany, Italy and Brazil, to name a few.   They really enjoyed traveling to the different countries and made numerous friends along the way. 


In their retirement years, Vince and Clara Lee moved to Queen Creek, AZ.  In 2010 they moved from Arizona to Gig Harbor, WA to be closer to family and friends.  


Community involvement was a huge part of Vince’s life.   

  • He was a Cub Scout Leader and Boy Scout leader for over 10 years.  He was exceptional in planning “High Adventure” trips for the Boy Scouts.  He touched the lives of many young boys who still today remember their time in Boy Scouts. 
    • Over 10 Eagle Scouts from his time as Scout Master 
    • Bowron Lake Canoe Trip 
    • Alaska Alcan Highway Trip to Skagway 
    • Multiple 50 mile hikes in the Cascades and Olympics 
    • Lions Club of Parkland for 7 years. 
    • Sunshine Community Hall Club Member and Past President 
    • Parkland – Midland Daffodil Float Chairman / designer / builder 
    • Built Daffodil floats for the Daffodil Parade for 7 years to enable the Franklin Pierce School District high school bands to participate in the annual Daffodil Parades.  These were not just small floats but major contenders for the grand prize float awards. 


Vince was a handyman and a fixer of everything and anything!  He really had a hard time going out to buy something when he could either make or build it himself: 

  • Built his own tractor for use around the yard and field 
  • Built an addition onto the house including a full basement 
  • Remodeled most of the inside of their home in Parkland (kitchen, dining room hardwood floors bathrooms etc.) 
  • Dug the new sewer line (instead of hiring it out) when connecting to the new sewer to the area 
  • Built several garages and out buildings around the property for his tools, supplies and collections 
  • Dug a large pond on the property and stocked it with trout 
  • Had a large garden (always) and made the local paper with his tomato plants that were over 12’ high 
  • Fixer of anything and everything – if anyone in the neighborhood needed something fixed (including neighborhood kids with derailed bike chains) he was the one who people came to. 
  • Rebuilt and painted countless cars for his kids and friends 
  • Had just about every tool imaginable and many times 2 or 3 of them 
  • Used old car hoods for sleds in the winter to tow behind the tractor for neighborhood sled rides 
  • Created the recipe for “waffles with an attitude”, a grandchildren favorite 
  • Became the manager and handyman of the park that they lived in while living in Arizona 


The “Beach” in Olalla held very special memories for Mom and Dad.  Owned by lifelong friends, Mel and Penny Henry, Mom and Dad spent a lot of time at the beach.  They enjoyed helping Mel and Penny with different projects around the beach property including tree removal, chopping firewood, building a gazebo and building an outdoor fireplace that has been enjoyed by many people over the years.  This beach is ultimately where their ashes will be scattered as their final resting place. 


Vince, Dad, Papa, Grandpa, Mentor and Friend will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him.  His kindness, helpfulness, creativity and fix-it nature will forever be missed and remain in our hearts. 

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