Wendy Culverwell, May 2, 2019, Tri-City Herald
Dave Retter knows a good idea when he hears one.
And that’s what happened over breakfast with friends in 2015.
The Tri-City real estate executive was with friends, including Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg, when the conversation turned to a novel idea out of San Diego.
An officer had created a fund to help people after he reached into his own pocket to buy lunch for a hungry child.
Like teachers, cops often spend their own money to help people in crisis. A lunch for a hungry kid and then a pair of shoes for a traumatized child can add up. And big needs are beyond the means of most cops.
Retter, Hohenberg and their friends thought it sounded like something that could — and should — happen in Kennewick.
Retter turned to his network of business buddies and raised $13,000. With that, the Kennewick Police Foundation launched the Kennewick Police Community Cares Fund.
Police officers now have access to credit cards to pay for minor expenses to help out people in need.
The fund takes on big challenges too, like replacing a broken down vehicle for a family that needed reliable transportation for a disabled child, contributing to a funeral, covering car repair bills or paying for a homeless man to stay in a hotel for a few nights.
It has since expanded to neighboring police departments thanks in part to Retter’s continuing support and personal contributions.
It’s one of the countless ways Retter, president and owner of Retter & Co. Sotheby’s International Realty, has supported the community, say his supporters.
For his wide-ranging philanthropic efforts, Retter was named Tri-Citian of the Year, the community’s top civic honor, at a banquet Thursday night at the Three Rivers Convention Center.
The award is jointly presented by Rotary International and Kiwanis International to the Mid-Columbian who best exemplifies service above self.
Not surprisingly, Retter was nominated by Chief Hohenberg, the 2009 Tri-Citian of the Year.
Retter’s personal touches
Hohenberg estimates Retter’s personal philanthropy has topped more than $1 million.
But it’s the personal touch that helps the most, he wrote.
Catholic Family Services, Elijah House, Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton & Franklin County, Hospice, Safe Harbor Crisis Nursery and others have benefited from Retter’s generosity, Hohenberg said.
“It is obvious that he contributes his personal time and energy as well as financial support to improve our community,” Hohenberg wrote.
Retter is a well-known Tri-City real estate executive.
He formed the business that would become Windermere Tri-Cities with partner Harold Thompson in October 1992.
The firm would grow to dominate the residential market. In 2016, Retter affiliated with Sotheby’s International, saying the global brand would better serve a growing, prospering community.
He has supported the Community Action Committee’s efforts to provide a day care center for homeless families to help them start over.
He was a hands-on supporter of the effort to complete the Cooper Larson baseball field at the Kennewick American Youth Baseball, lending a hand at car washes and other events in addition to donating money.
In 2014, during his company’s annual spring day of service, agents reported to the ball fields to power wash the facility, repairing facilities and the landscape.
Volunteering for Tri-Cities agencies
He’s served on the boards of the Tri-City Development Council (TRIDEC), the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau, the Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities, the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Benton-Franklin Humane Society and the Benton-Franklin Rodeo Committee.
He is an advocate for youth as well, supporting Backpacks for Kids in local schools, Junior Achievement and the Please Don’t Quit program at Columbia Basin College.
He also sponsors the Retter and Company Sotheby’s International Theater at Toyota Center.
Retter was honored as the 2016 Kennewick Man of the Year and received the North Star Leadership Award from the Blue Mountain Council of Boy Scouts of America.
“Dave Retter’s ‘fingerprints’ can be found throughout the Tri-Cities enhancing our quality of life through his tireless service,” Hohenberg wrote. “I cannot think of a more deserving, tireless, selfless community leader that truly deserves to be recognize as the Tri-Citian of the Year.”
After a period of inactivity, the program was relaunched as an independent effort in 1980. Recent honorees include builder Don Pratt, restaurateurs Shirley and Steve Simmons and Columbia Center manager Barbara Johnson.
Tri-City Herald Editorial, 5/4/2019
To those who know him, this year’s Tri-Citian of the year is an obvious choice.
Real estate broker and philanthropist Dave Retter, of Kennewick, has been a quiet yet mighty force in the community for decades, and it is time his generous spirit was recognized with the highest honor the Tri-Cities bestows.
He made the prestigious list last Thursday evening at the 2019 Tri-Citian of the Year banquet, held at the Three Rivers Convention Center.
The award is jointly presented by Tri-City area Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, and is meant to go to the community member who best exemplifies service above self.
Retter certainly fits that description.
He was nominated for the honor by Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg, who won the distinguished award in 2009.
In his nomination letter, Hohenberg wrote that Retter has worked on so many organizations the list “would go on forever” and that he could not think of a “more deserving, tireless, selfless community leader that truly deserves to be recognized.”
Retter started the Windermere Tri-Cities real estate firm with a partner in the early 1990s, and then in 2016 transitioned the business to Retter and Company Sotheby’s International.
Hohenberg wrote that Retter has been a selfless leader who has donated well over $1 million of his personal money back into the community.
And while his philanthropy is astounding, it is his creativity in finding ways to help others that sets him apart.
Retter was the catalyst for the creation of the Kennewick Police Department’s Community Care Fund through the Kennewick Police Foundation. The program provides a way for officers to help people in need without having to dip into their own pockets.
This is huge.
Police are often the first people to come across those suffering from hard times, and providing a way for them to help people in crisis changes lives.
Kennewick police have helped buy meals for people who are hungry and hotel rooms for people with no place to stay. They’ve even replaced a broken down vehicle for a family that needed reliable transportation for a disabled child.
The program has caught on with other police and sheriff’s departments in the Tri-Cities and throughout the state, said Hohenberg. And Retter has made sure the program has continued funding.
In other direct acts of kindess, Retter also spearheaded the replacement of a failed septic tank at a disabled man’s home, and he was instrumental in completing the Cooper Larsen baseball field at the Kennewick American Youth Baseball complex.
Retter also has financially supported the Community Action Committee so their program can provide a day center for homeless families and help them start their lives over.
It is obvious Retter contributes his personal time and energy as well as financial support to improve the community. He has served on the Tri-City Development Council, the Tri-City Visitor and Convention Bureau, Trios Health Foundation, the Benton Franklin Rodeo Committee, the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Benton Franklin Humane Society, and many others.
The Tri-Citian of the Year award was started by the Tri-City Herald in 1962 as a way to honor people who have devoted their time and resources to helping the community, and it continued until 1970. There was an unfortunate gap, but the award was picked up again in 1980 by the community’s two then-existing Rotary Clubs, Pasco-Kennewick and Richland.
It has been going strong ever since., thanks to Rotarians and Kiwanis Club members in the community. This is a tradition that highlights generosity, commitment to helping others and unselfishness, and we are always inspired by those who end up receiving the award.
Retter embodies all these traits, and the Tri-Citians are fortunate to have him in our midst.