Eugene Kennedy Dight Jr., known by friends and family as “Buster,” died surrounded by family at his home on Bainbridge Island on May 25, 2017. He and his wife Beverly recently celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary. He was 87 years old and had a full and fortunate life.
Buster moved to Bainbridge Island in 1958 where he and Beverly raised five children—along with various goats, chickens and a large organic vegetable garden.
A long-time commuter, he worked for more than 35 years for the Boeing Company starting first as draftsman and then as liaison engineer on projects including the Lunar Rover and Saturn V rocket. He later ran the Boeing Learning Center where he developed a program using computer-linked satellite technology to provide public and technical education to clients in Alaska, Iran and Japan. His educational innovations drew the attention of the University of Washington where he was offered a teaching position.
Buster’s interest in education included serving eight years on the Bainbridge Island School Board, as board member and president, and eight years on the King County School Directors’ Committee, also as president. He founded the Boeing internship program, which continues today, and worked closely with the Northwest Regional Education Laboratory in Oregon. In a departure from his previous work, Buster founded Island Films, producing a documentary on eagles.
Following his retirement, Buster and Beverly spent their summers on a sailboat in Canada, where they had vacationed for over 60 years, and their winters in Mexico. Both became deeply involved in helping the people of the Mexican fishing village they lived in and were principal founders of Amigos Teacapan—which provided equipment for local schools and clinics and sponsored dentists and optometrists who brought much-needed care. Buster most enjoyed selecting a student each year to receive a full scholarship to college and saw many rise from poverty to become professionals.
Buster was an avid water-colorist and ham radio operator, proud of recently achieving the highest ham rating. More than anything, he loved spending time on beaches and boats or eating around a long table with his ever-growing family. In addition to his wife Beverly, he is survived by five children—Ruth Dight, Pamela Blakeman, Eugene Dight III, Sharon Magnuson, Karl Dight and their five spouses—as well as 12 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren and more are on the way.
A remembrance is planned for June 17th from 1:00 to 4:00 pm at their home (4913 NE Tolo Road) on Bainbridge Island. Buster preferred memorial gifts in lieu of flowers, asking that donations be made to Seattle Children’s. Memories of Buster may be posted online at NEVER-GONE.com/memorials