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In a lifetime filled with delightful incongruities, Dirk Bidleman–father, friend, and football fanatic–spent 61 years making sense of it all with humor, curiosity, and passion. Three years after being diagnosed with cancer, our Dad was a force to be reckoned with. In late October, he died as he lived: Relentless, fearless, and without regret. Dad’s final days were marked by power and purpose, soaking up precious moments with family (and NCAA football). In the weeks prior to his passing, Dad made his wishes known and left nothing unsaid–just as he had for so many years before. Throughout his career as a Project Management Professional, Dad was no stranger to logistics, systems, and organizational change; True to form, he made it clear what he wanted when it came to communications surrounding his departure. Forever a champion of “keep it simple,” Dad always made his thoughts clear and concise, so we’ll do the same.
Dad would have you smile as you remember him. In fact, he’d demand it–only because you look so great when you do.
He would have you broaden your horizons with joy and curiosity.
He would have you take the road less traveled.
He would have you order extra hollandaise with your Eggs Benedict–and everything else.
He would have you hold your family close (bear hugs were his preferred method).
Most of all, Dad would have you “give ‘em hell.”
Our Dad was born with an uninhibited zest for life. After spending his childhood in Enumclaw, Washington, Dad earned a Bachelor of Arts in Administrative Management and Computer Systems from Central Washington University. For nearly four decades, Dad enjoyed an outstanding career in Information Technology and Project Management with the most prestigious brands in the Northwest, including Boeing, Weyerhaeuser, REI, and Starbucks. As a skilled designer, architect, and builder of key technology infrastructures, Dad found his superpower leading others to the finish line with wit, energy, and a treasure trove of signature catchphrases (or “Dirk-isms,” as colleagues eventually coined). With a keen eye for detail, Dad led high-profile projects in Data Privacy, Transportation, and Global Supply Chains. Regardless of the outcome, be it a resounding success or a “goat rope,” Dad’s colleagues could always look to him for clarity, positivity, and lighthearted conversation. The big picture was always on his mind: Humanity first, work second. Dad’s ability to keep things in perspective never failed to inspire those around him. Though he’d never brag about it, Dad saw plenty of success at work during his lifetime. Among the accomplishments of his career, our Dad valued his relationships and office camaraderie more than anything else.
If you asked him about his best work of all, however, Dad would tell you about us–Christopher, Hannah, and Olivia–his three children. With our mother, Cheryl, Dad was a fiercely loving father who never let us down. With tenacity, purpose, and a little mischief, Dad taught us what it means to be a good human–to have empathy, respect, enthusiasm, honesty, and everything in between. Throughout his life, Dad never lost faith in our ability to leave the world better than we found it (even in the moments when every shred of evidence indicated otherwise). At home, Dad had just as many one-liners to make his point as he did at work. Somewhere between his rush hour commute and walking in the front door, “Dirk-isms” became “Dad-isms,” and “Dad-isms” deepened
over the years into a grab bag of enduring wisdom, tidbits of common sense, and words to live by.
Here’s a few of our favorites:
–Hate is a strong word.
–Actions speak louder than words.
–The shortest menus have the best food.
–Don't be a tourist–be a traveler.
–Treat others the way you want to be treated.
–Stereotypes are lazy at best, especially for those you've never met.
–When you’re abroad and craving a burger–or the feeling of familiarity–McDonalds is a place where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.
–Don’t let your eyes rule your stomach.
–Life is infinitely more interesting when you talk to people.
Oh, and Saturdays are for college football.
Dad was a man of simple tastes and a collector of exceptional experiences. He navigated the globe with an insatiable wanderlust, taking every opportunity to travel overseas or drive forty-five minutes for Yakima’s best Menudo. Always an advocate for spontaneous road trips and “playing it by ear” with the day’s agenda, our Dad wasn’t the type to stay still for long. With a love of wide open spaces (and not much for the rat race), the COVID-19 pandemic gave Dad the opportunity to relocate to the other side of the Cascades with his loving wife, Divina–our sweet, kind, and endlessly gracious stepmother. Together, they bought a home in Ellensburg, Washington, just minutes from CWU–Dad’s alma mater. There, Dad and Divina spent weekends watching football,
flying drones, visiting the shooting range, and spending time with family on both sides of the mountains. In his later years, Dad became an adoring grandfather for the first time when Hannah welcomed her son, William, in 2021.
Dad’s captivating, once-in-a-lifetime spirit will endure forever as we live the way he did–with joy, curiosity, and reckless abandon. Our dad is survived by his beloved wife, Divina; his children, Christopher, Hannah, and Olivia; his stepson, Jonathan; his parents, David and Effie; his sister, Laura; his niece, Ellie; and his grandsons, William and Walker. Together, we acknowledge the extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins, colleagues, in-laws, and friends too numerous to name–not to mention all who ever shared an armrest on a flight with our Dad (because you probably became fast friends before they could give the safety demonstration before takeoff). Across the rainbow bridge, Dad is reunited with Genevieve the Jack Russell Terrier–the one member of our
family who napped harder on the living room couch than he did.
Dad charmed many with his unvarnished, unapologetic (and sometimes unfiltered) commentary on the world around him. He was larger than life. He was the epitome of delight. He was magnetic. He was a force to be reckoned with. It’s an inadequate description–all of the above–but words will never be enough. Regardless, this is how we’ll remember him. Our Dad is loved as fiercely, immensely, and profoundly as he loved us.
Arrangements are being made for a celebration of life. Once the details are confirmed, our family will be in touch. Dad’s final care has been entrusted to Emmick Family Funeral Home of West Seattle. Memorial contributions would be welcomed by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.
To share your condolences and Memories of Dirk with Family and Friends, please visit his Tribute Wall, located above.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center