Teresa “Tess” Jeanne Guenther (née Richards) passed away peacefully in the early morning of December 13, 2023, within days of having suffered a severe stroke in her home in Mount Vernon, WA. She and her husband, Richard J Guenther had only lived there a year, after having previously lived on Whidbey Island for decades, where they had owned and operated Act II Books & Puppets in Langley. The couple had just celebrated their 54th anniversary in September, having been together since they met as students at Oregon State University in the late ‘60s.
Tess was born in Pendleton, OR on April 25, 1950 to Harley Wayne Richards and Goldie Josephine Richards (née Williams). Sadly, Goldie passed away later that year due to conditions unrelated to Tess’s birth.
She loved to read whenever she could, whether at home or, as a child, sitting on the back of her horse Toby. She also wrote poetry and journaled for many years, leaving treasured snippets of who she was. She opened her first book shop in 1989 in Kennewick WA, followed by a second store in Walla Walla, WA, which was closer to her father and step-mom, Anna J Richards (née Beckius).
Known early in life as “Terry”, and later “Terri”, she decided she would go by “Tess” after she and Richard moved from Kennewick, WA to Whidbey Island in 2001. She loved her time living there as she was able to wake up to the view of tall pine trees swaying in the wind, hummingbirds drinking at their feeder, and her horses grazing in the pasture.
A constant source of strength in her early life and thereafter were her dear friends Lin, Norma and Susie with whom she shared her youth and regular get-togethers over the years as adults. Tess’s family wish to also thank all the kind and helpful Mount Vernon EMTs, Skagit Valley Regional Health emergency room staff, the UW Medicine Contact Airlift Northwest crew, as well as the staff of Swedish – Cherry Hill in Seattle WA, in particular Dr. Minh Nguyen, who helped us advocate for her care and final wishes.
Tess was preceded in death by her parents. Her wish was to be cremated and her ashes scattered in places she loved to be. She leaves behind her husband Richard (Mount Vernon, WA), sons Daniel (Brier, WA) and R. Jason (Boston, MA), grandchildren Kaitlyn Guenther, Erica Watson, Benjamin Guenther, Finley Guenther, and two great-grandchildren, Addie and Lil.