Richard "Dick" Tietjen Family and friends lost a true hero with the passing of Richard (Dick) Tietjen. He left this world while still living at home at the age of 93. He was born in Great Falls July 11, 1923 and lived most of his life there. The son of Frank and Maybelle Tietjen, he graduated from Great Falls High School in 1941 and went to Seattle and worked with his father at the Boeing Company while he attended the University of Washington. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he started his crusade to enlist in the military with a strong desire to fly and defend his country. He was accepted for enlistment and joined the Army Air Corps in 1942. After rapidly progressing through the Air Corps ranks, he was commissioned as Captain in 11 months and promoted to Squadron Commander. He was selected for the elite 'Pathfinder', a three-ship formation of radar-equipped B-17s. It acted as the lead crew responsible for guiding his squadron into enemy territories and designated target zones. A veteran of 30 missions with the 447th Heavy Bombardment group, he twice brought his badly crippled B-17 back from raids, once with a crash landing in Holland. As a young bomber pilot he was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross, the air medal with four clusters, and the Bronze Star. Ironically, his father Frank was spending his daylight hours at Boeing making airplane parts for the aircraft that Richard would be flying over Europe. After returning to the states, Richard completed fighter pilot training and delivered P-47, P-51 and P-59s from Gore Field in Great Falls to Alaska on a lend-lease program to Russia. Frank and Richard entered into a Willy's Jeep franchise partnership following Richard's formal army discharge in 1946. That same year, Dick met his bride to be, Beverly. His nurse while at the Deaconess Hospital for an emergency appendectomy, she was bright, beautiful and extremely talented. She quickly became the shining light in his life. They were married in 1947 and operated a cattle ranch in Cascade until 1954, when they built and operated the Country Club Motel on Fox Farm Road. After selling the motel in 1959 and building two homes on Flathead Lake, Dick continued his passion for construction. His reputation for fine craftsmanship preceded him and he became well known as a custom home builder. With his wife at his side decorating the homes, his three sons carried on in the trade after his retirement. Besides being an avid hunter and salmon fisherman, he continued to be creative as he handcrafted wooden decoys from a block of wood to beautiful painted completion. They were a true work of art. Dick will be sorely missed by his children: son Richard (Mary) Tietjen of Port Townsend, WA, daughter Cathy (Steve) Gagnon of Helena, son Jan Tietjen of Boise, ID, and son Jordan Tietjen of Great Falls; grandchildren Miles Gagnon, Grant Gagnon, Audrey (Gagnon) Williams, and Lyndsay Tietjen; great-grandchildren Max and Sheanna Gagnon; and niece Robin Pratt. He was preceded in death by his wife Beverly and sister Sharon. Special hugs to our brother Jordan who worked so hard to make Dad's last months pleasant. Rest in peace Dad and give Mom a kiss for us. Services will be announced later. Memorials are suggested to the Wounded Warriors Project.
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