When David Alt II was attending college in Pullman, he used to come home to visit his dad in Vancouver, and help him build an A-frame house.
The house, completed in 1998, is a woodsy abode with tall, stained cedar ceilings. Alt said it “kind of feels like you’re in a treehouse.”
Building the house together was a dream for Alt, 48, and his dad, David Alt, who was always teaching his son to dissect challenges and come up with solutions.
His dad’s problem-solving guidance propelled Alt to an architecture career, where he draws houses instead of building them. Yet building the house together still stands as one of Alt II’s favorite stories of his father.
“He built that thing rock solid, to last for 100 years,” said Alt, who has lived in Vancouver since age 4.
The house, however, is now more a remembrance to David Alt, who died at age 75 in November due to complications from COVID-19. Clark County has suffered 160 deaths linked to the disease.
David Alt had underlying health conditions that contributed to his death, but he still enjoyed hiking and fishing before his infection. He was still active with various churches. Where some might see an older man at high risk to die from coronavirus, his son saw a person who was still growing and enjoying life.
“It seems like his life was cut short,” Alt said. “He had a lot more things to do. He wasn’t ready to go.”
Alt said his father always felt as though he could conquer anything by sheer will. David Alt thought he could beat coronavirus, too, if he got infected.
“COVID was the one thing he thought he could kick but didn’t,” his son said.
Alt said his dad was admitted to a hospital in November, and from there, it was just phone calls between them for the rest of his dad’s life. His dad spent close to four weeks breathing with a ventilator before he died.
Ironically, it was in a hospital where David Alt helped nurse his son back to health after a motorcycle accident temporarily paralyzed him at age 20. Alt said he was expected to be paralyzed permanently, but with his dad’s encouragement and rehabilitation he was able to walk again.
“He always had the idea that anything could be done,” Alt said.
He loved fishing, camping and skiing with his dad. He used his dad’s problem-solving techniques to find his dog, Niko, when Niko went missing for 31 days in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
David Alt was his son’s biggest cheerleader, and now Alt hopes that people take coronavirus more seriously, recognizing that the risks you take can harm others, not just yourself.
“Even if you choose that it’s not a concern in your life, you’re still affecting others,” Alt said. “We have a larger responsibility to the community.”