PASCO — Longtime collegiate teacher and administrator Dave Lemak died Friday after a long and painful battle with cancer.
He had been under hospice care at home with his family for several days. He was 62.
Lemak was a professor and administrator at Washington State University Tri-Cities until he was appointed director of a new bachelor's degree program at Columbia Basin College in 2009.
"Dave Lemak came to CBC to build a legacy," said Rich Cummins, president of CBC. "Next Friday night, at our annual commencement, the first 27 graduates of the bachelor's program that he built for CBC will walk across the Toyota Center stage.
"These graduates will miss their champion, a man for whom they cared so much that they raised more than $27,000 to start an endowed scholarship in his name."
John Thornton, associate professor of accounting at WSU Tri-Cities, remembers his friend, mentor, colleague and loyal WSU Cougar fan as a special person who cared deeply for his students and their academic success.
"Dave has left us too soon. He had so much left to give, but we all appreciate the time we were able to work and build together," Thornton said. "Dave served WSU Tri-Cities for more than 17 years, from founding academic director of the business programs to interim chancellor."
Thornton added that Lemak was a born leader and carried that trait through life from his days in the Air Force, from which he retired as a lieutenant colonel.
Lemak earned his doctorate in strategic management at Arizona State University and brought that skill to the Tri-Cities nearly 20 years ago.
"Dave also was instrumental in developing the strategic plan for the Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and constantly worked to increase the educational opportunities for Latina/Latino students."
Lemak headed CBC's bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Management program, which was designed to help students with associate of applied science degrees in fields such as welding, office technology and computer science, advance their careers by gaining business and management skills.
"I'll always remember Dave as a man of principle who led by example, who didn't waffle on the things that mattered most, whose love for baseball, Republicans, veterans and students was only surpassed by his love for his family and God," Thornton said. "My life is blessed to have known him."
According to a CBC spokesman, services will be limited to a family gathering.