Sylvia Z. Richter, Jan. 15, 1926 – July 31, 2018

Aug 22, 2018

“Toughness doesn’t have to come in a pinstripe suit.” – Diane Feinstein

Losing the matriarch of a family can be very traumatic, leaving an empty space that is impossible to fill.  This enormous loss occurred in the Richter/Stockton clan with the passing of Sylvia (Tudie) Richter on the last day of July.

Tudie arrived in this world much ahead of her expected date.  She was both a shocking surprise and a glorious gift.  Anyone who knew Tudie well would agree that her life was a study in contrasts.  She was a tiny but demanding presence when she arrived on Jan. 15, 1926, and her strength of character defined her entire life.

She was the second child born to Joseph and Peggy Zahler, following a brother who was two years older than she.  Because little Bobby Zahler could not pronounce the name “Sylvia Jean” he simply said that she was a “real cutie,” pronouncing “cutie” as “tudie,” a name by which she was known her entire life.

She was a Mukilteo native born in a house that still stands near the corner of the Mukilteo Speedway and 5th Street, and she inhabited the city she cherished until the last two years of her life.

When Tudie was 14, she gave her heart to a Mukilteo boy named Bruce Richter.  The couple was married in May of Tudie’s 19th year, and theirs was a love affair that sustained them both throughout their 69 years of marriage.

The young couple made their first home in a house built by Bruce and his dad, and it was here they started their family.  Jamie was born first, and three years later the family was complete with the arrival of their son, Jeffery.

Tudie and Bruce proved to be excellent parents and great advocates for the city of Mukilteo as well.  They were instrumental in providing Mukilteo’s first library, and both worked tirelessly in several other capacities to serve the city that they loved.

Tudie was a stay-at-home mom, and was a very active member of the Children’s Orthopedic Hospital.  She also served as a leader of the Bluebirds and Cub Scouts as her children grew.

The Richters were a boating family, and they traveled to the American and Canadian San Juan Islands for many summers.  When Jeffery entered 6th grade, Tudie decided she could take a job outside of her home, and she worked for the Mukilteo School District for more than 25 years.

Because she was an avid reader and an advocate for children, her job utilized all of her talents, first as a library aide at Olympic View Junior High School and, later, as a school secretary at Explorer Middle School.

In 1986, Tudie and Bruce decided to build a house on the hillside above Old Town in Mukilteo.  Their final home was a place of warmth and refuge for their three grandsons, Ethan and Taylor Stockton, and Max Richter.

Tudie’s religious faith was strong, and her spiritual beliefs were a very important part of her life.  She and Bruce attended Faith Lutheran Church for over 50 years, and served in numerous capacities such as Bruce’s tenure on the church council and Tudie’s engaging talents as a Sunday School and Vacation Bible School Teacher.  Two of her grandchildren were confirmed in this faith.

Other natural talents and pastimes that she pursued included her abilities as a fantastic seamstress, a phenomenal swimmer, and a mediocre, but enthusiastic, golfer.

In retirement, Tudie and Bruce also traveled extensively throughout the United States and Canada.  As advocates for children, they volunteered with Operation School Bell (Tudie organizing and scheduling the drivers, and Bruce driving kids) for many years.

A year after Bruce’s passing, Tudie sold her second home in Mukilteo and moved into Harbour Pointe Retirement Center where she lived for a year.  In the fall of 2016 she moved into The Rose Garden, the memory care facility at Chateau Pacific in Lynnwood.  During her two final years, the care she received from the staff of The Rose Garden was loving, compassionate, and sustaining.

She leaves behind her two children, Jamie (Robert) Stockton, Jeff (Meg) Richter, her three grandsons, Ethan (Karen), Taylor (Aya), and Max (Steffi), and her three great grandchildren, Alice, Edith, and Kazuya.  Tudie was preceded in death by her parents, her brother, and her husband.  She outlived most of her friends and joined her heavenly family on July 31, 2018.

Her last weeks of life were made more peaceful and greatly enriched by a wonderful hospice team.  They used all means at their disposal to improve Tudie’s level of comfort in her final days.  In her last week this wonderful care allowed each member of her family the opportunity to say “goodbye” individually and in their own way.

A memorial service is planned for Tudie at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, at Faith Lutheran Church, 6708 Cady Rd. (corner of Cady and Madison).  A reception honoring Tudie’s life will be held in the church social hall following the service.  In lieu of flowers a donation to Operation School Bell, or an animal welfare organization, in her name, would be greatly appreciated.

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