Red McComb was a regular participant in the annual Veterans Day flag-raising ceremony at the Mazama Store. File photo by Bob Spiwak
BY ANN McCREARY
Eight nonprofit organizations in the Methow Valley have received unexpected and sizeable gifts from the estate of Red (David) McComb, who died at age 91 at his Mazama home on March 9.
McComb left a significant portion of his estate to local organizations, which have received checks for a partial disbursement of his bequest, said Jay Lucas, a longtime friend of McComb and one of the executors of his estate.
The remainder of McComb’s bequests will be distributed after the estate is settled, Lucas said.
In his will, McComb directed that the Methow Valley Education Association will receive 20 percent of the estate; the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association and the Winthrop Ice and Sports Rink will each receive 10 percent of the estate; and The Cove, the Winthrop Barn, the Methow Valley Community Center, Aero Methow Rescue Service and the Mazama Community Club will each receive 5 percent of the estate.
Lucas said McComb asked him many years ago to be one of his executors. Laurie Meyers of Winthrop and Theresa Casagram of Hawaii are also executors. McComb had no blood relatives when he died, Lucas said.
An entomologist who worked for the U.S Forest Service for 30 years and for the state Department of Natural Resources for 18, McComb lived modestly, Lucas said.
“He believed in doing things inexpensively.” Lucas said.
However, McComb bought and held on to stocks that grew in value over the years, Lucas said. “He’s the best example I know of the value of money over time,” Lucas said. “He’s had Boeing from day one, probably. He’s a great lesson for half the world.”
The organizations named as recipients of McComb’s bequests were sent letters letting them know that they would be receiving a portion of his estate, Lucas said.
“These organizations didn’t know if it was 50 bucks or 500 bucks. When they finally got the checks I think they were very surprised at the size of the checks,” Lucas said. He said they have received “about half of what’s coming their way.”
The executors decided to make a partial distribution and distribute the remainder after the estate is settled, Lucas said. “Some of these organizations could use the money right away,” he said. “We thought, why not go ahead and put it to work in the community?”
MVSTA Executive Director James DeSalvo said last week that McComb’s $100,000 gift to his organization would be placed in a newly established endowment fund to support trails.
McComb made donations during his lifetime to different organizations including churches back in his hometown of Philadelphia and his alma mater, Lucas said. And, “he helped a number of people in the valley when he was alive. He never said anything about it.”
Friendly but private
Lucas said he believes McComb preferred to bequeath his money after his death, because he didn’t want the attention that large donations would attract.
“He chose to do it after he was gone. He was extremely friendly, but was still a private person. In my opinion that’s why he didn’t do anything [with his money] while he was alive.”
Lucas said he saw McComb “almost daily,” and a week before McComb died he attended a hockey game in Wenatchee with Lucas and other friends. “He was very sharp mentally, up to the end,” Lucas said.
Lucas recalled meeting McComb many years ago when McComb was working as a Forest Service entomologist. “He would hire anywhere from six to eight girls to work for him each summer to do bug surveys. He would drive all over with these very attractive young women, and I thought, ‘Who is this old guy with the beautiful women?’”
McComb tended to socialize with younger people, Lucas said, and was an avid fan of Liberty Bell High School sports and a regular at the games.
“He was a community guy, start to finish,” Lucas said.
He also had a tremendous sweet tooth, Lucas said. “Whenever there was a sugar pastry being sold, he was there. He’d have half a hamburger at the Duck, just so he could have the mud pie afterward,” Lucas said.
In a letter recognizing McComb for his service as a Marine during World War II and as a federal and state employee, Gov. Jay Inslee said he “will be remembered for his honorable spirit, amiable nature and infectious enthusiasm for life.”