Salisbury, local architect, dies at 56

Volunteer with local nonprofit organizations had brain cancer

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian social issues & neighborhoods reporter

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Randall Salisbury, a prominent local architect who was less well-known, but much beloved, for volunteering his labor and services to needy local nonprofits, died Thursday night. The cause was brain cancer. He was 56.

Salisbury and his firm, DSP Architects, worked on "countless hospital remodel jobs" at Southwest Washington Medical Center — what's now called PeaceHealth — said his partner and old friend, architect Larry Swatosh. DSP also designed the H.H. Hall Building in Hazel Dell.

Swatosh choked up as he recalled that he was the one who hired Salisbury as an employee in the late 1970s; in 1995, Salisbury was named a full partner in the renamed firm, DSP, and Swatosh, who had retired, was doing jobs for him.

Swatosh said Salisbury grew up in the Olympia area and was back there attending a high school reunion when he revived his friendship with a school friend named Jayne. They married, and Salisbury adopted Jayne's two children.

"They couldn't have had a better parent," Swatosh said. "He couldn't have treated them any better. Randy was probably one of the kindest, gentlest people I know."

Swatosh said that Salisbury "had lots of interests and was very involved in lots of things." Salisbury was deeply involved in the Rotary Club of Greater Clark County, and served long-term on the board of the American Red Cross of Southwest Washington, including the last two years as president.

"He was a true professional and even a better friend," said Red Cross chief development director David Fenton. "He was a gentleman, and that's the highest compliment you can pay a man."

Diane McWithey of Share, the Vancouver agency that operates shelters and other services for the hungry and homeless, said Salisbury "was a great supporter of our programs, financially as well as volunteering his services." She said Salisbury was part of the team that designed the bigger, better Share House, on West 13th Street, after the previous one was destroyed by arson in 1996.

More recently, she said, Salisbury "totally designed the remodel of the Fromhold Service Center." That's Share's new headquarters, a former bowling alley that has now become a suite of offices, conference rooms, warehouse, volunteer workspace and more, on Andresen Road. The updated building just opened this spring to great fanfare.

And just last week, Denise Stone of Community Services Northwest paid tribute to Salisbury for his volunteer help remodeling the social service agency's home at the corner of Main and 39th Streets. Stone said Salisbury not only did the design but showed up in person to help build the new walls that made the old building into a functioning office.

"Randy has been very helpful with Friends of the Carpenter, with some of our expansions and remodels," added the Rev. Duane Sich, who operates the downtown drop-in wood shop for homeless people. "Just a man of integrity and a very sweet person."

Salisbury was a graduate of Washington State University. He is survived by his wife, Jayne, who teaches in Evergreen Public Schools; their two adult sons; a sister in the Olympia area; and one grandchild who "was born less than a month ago," McWithey said.

There are no known plans for a service yet.

Scott Hewitt: 360-735-4525; http://www.twitter.com/col_cops; scott.hewitt@columbian.com