Long-time Brookings resident Dick Keusink, a journalist for 69 years and former owner of the Curry Coastal Pilot, died Wednesday at the age of 93.
Affectionately called Papa Dick by his family and friends, Keusink was a community fixture in Brookings ever since he and his wife, Polly, moved from Los Angeles to Brookings and purchased the Pilot in 1962. At that time, the Brookings-Harbor area population was about 1,800, compared to more than 14,000 today.
For 43 years, Dick and Polly were involved in various community organizations and events. Their efforts included the Seacrest Bonsai Club, the Pelican Bay Radio Club, the annual Chetco River Checkup and a host of Rotary Club activities that impacted local youth. Dick's hobbies included beekeeping, gardening, and collecting vinyl records.
"I met Dick Keusink when my family first moved to Brookings, 27 years ago. He was cheerful and helpful and always interested in how my family and I were doing and what was "new" in our lives," said Les Cohen, former Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce president and Rotary member.
"Dick was an active and committed member of the Rotary Club of Brookings-Harbor and exemplified the Rotary motto of 'Service above self.'" Cohen said.
The couple was well know for their volunteer work with the annual Azalea Festival, Brookings' annual rite of spring that draws thousands of visitors. The couple were named grand marshals of the Azalea Festival in 2006.
Polly focused her efforts on organizing the festival parade while Dick could often be found serving food at the kickoff luncheon. He also took great pride in taking photographs of the Azalea parade from a rooftop next to the current Pilot newspaper office.
"It used to give us a unique view of the parade," Dick explained in a 2006 interview. "Parades were the big thing. We had some big dignitaries here. We had some big bands here from out of town, too."
Dick, who was born Jan. 10, 1922, graduated from the Stanford School of Journalism in 1946, and his first newspaper job was with a newspaper in Santa Paula, California, in Ventura County.
He later worked for the Burlingame Advance, the Redwood City Tribune, and the Santa Monica Evening Outlook.
He was present at the peace talks in Korea following the ceasefire of the 1950-53 Korean War. He worked for the United Nations at that time, in public relations, and produced much of the news copy relating to the armistice that appeared in newspapers all across the globe.
In 1961, Dick and Polly, both involved in journalism and employed at the Santa Monica Evening Outlook, were offered jobs when they dropped in for a visit at the Curry Coastal Pilot while camping at Harris Beach campground. They told the paper's owner, John Jenkins, that they weren't interested in jobs, but shared a dream of owning a country weekly newspaper and that the Brookings paper, published on Thursdays, seemed to just fit the bill.
A year later, the owner was ready to retire and the couple sold their California house, packed up their three children, purchased the paper and published their first issue - all within a week.
The couple kept the presses running for the next 19 years. In 1981, they sold the newspaper to Western Communications, Inc. (the current owner). Dick continue to write a weekly column called "My View" that was filled with colorful anecdotes and commentary on community issues. He gathered fodder for his column by hanging out and talking with people at the Brookings Post Office and local restaurants.
In his final column, published in 2010, Dick wrote:
"It has been fun. It has been exhilarating. It has been exhausting. See you at the Brookings Post Office."
In his later years, Dick could often be found at DeeAnn's Tea Room Cafe, a Brookings restaurant where he gathered with fellow members of the radio club once a week. Polly would drive him to various viewpoints, including Sporthaven Beach, where they enjoyed watching the wildlife and people.
Note: The Keusink family has asked to be given a few days of privacy before receiving calls from friends. Ever the consummate newsman, Dick wrote his own obituary, which will be published in a future edition of the Pilot.