The Celtic Arts Foundation is very fortunate to have had many generous and thoughtful community-minded people serve as Directors since 1997. Board members are elected from the general membership of the Celtic Arts Foundation.
Skye Keady Richendrfer – true Pacific Northwesterner, modern Renaissance man, proud Scot, amazing friend to many – passed away of leukemia on November 20, 2022, in Mount Vernon.
Skye was born November 4, 1957 in Bellingham, Washington, to Donald Charles and Collene Campbell Yates Richendrfer. He attended Bellingham schools and graduated from Sehome High School in 1976, serving as Student Body President. Skye then matriculated to Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, graduating cum laude in 1980. It was there he met and married his beloved wife of over forty years, Sally. The couple returned to Washington, settling in Mount Vernon, where they continued to live.
It is impossible to think of Skye without envisioning bagpipes and a kilt. He began piping at age seven and developed his skills to an international level in a very short period of time. He was Pipe Major of the Macalester College Pipe Band and presided over the school’s piping and drumming instructional program. Upon his return to the Pacific Northwest, he piped with the acclaimed Simon Fraser University Pipe Band and achieved great success in individual and group piping in British Columbia. Later in life he became an aficionado of the Scottish Smallpipes, from which he derived great pleasure. He had many other interests – all in which he engaged with great gusto – including UW athletics and Seattle professional sports, cooking, genealogy, photography, and good wine and spirits!
Intelligent, gregarious, kind, and tech savvy, Skye nurtured an interest in politics and was elected Mayor of Mount Vernon, a post in which he served from 1996 to 2003. He was proud of many achievements while in office and beyond: establishment of the city-wide fiber optic network; development and construction of the Multimodal Station; designation of Mount Vernon as the Best Small City in America; donation to the City of the Celtic Stage at Edgewater Park; and many others. In 2007 Skye received the Governor’s Heritage Award for his work and support of the restoration of Lincoln Theatre, fundraising and advocacy for McIntyre Hall, the tremendous addition to tourism engendered by the great success of the Skagit Valley Highland Games and Celtic Festival, and generally for his contributions to the cultural life of Skagit County. In 2015 Skye received the Distinguished Citizen award from his alma mater for his impressive government and volunteer service.
Skye prepared for life after politics by pursuing and receiving a Master’s Degree in Not-for-Profit Leadership in 2003 from Seattle University. His true service to the local and the worldwide communities came with the expansion of the Celtic Arts Foundation/Mastery of Scottish Arts to an international brand. Performers and people interested in Celtic traditions come from Great Britain, Europe, Canada, and other global points to learn, entertain, and appreciate music, poetry, and related arts at the Littlefield Celtic Center in Mount Vernon, Benaroya Hall in Seattle, and the Winter School at Seabeck. The Richendrfer family home was often the site of impromptu performances by some of the world’s greats in piping, fiddling, and drumming; always with tasty fare and perhaps a “wee dram” of whisky.
To say that he left behind legions of friends and admirers would be an understatement.