Cord Heinrich Harms zum Spreckel

A small service for family will be held on Aug. 9.

Cord Heinrich Harms zum Spreckel, 85, passed away peacefully from complications due to cancer on July 23, 2020.

He was at home on Vashon with his adored and adoring wife of 54 years, Jane, by his side. He spent his last weeks watching the trees, ducks, cows, and changing light of his favorite spot in the world, wondering aloud each day, as he almost always did, “Does it get any better than this?”

Cord was born on June 18, 1935, in Rostock, Germany, in the build-up to WWII. He spent his post-war childhood in Austria, sailing and hiking with his younger brother, Carsten.. After an apprenticeship in lithography, he set off for Switzerland to practice his craft and his rock climbing, not necessarily in that order. In 1963, Cord boarded a ship for the U.S. with a suitcase, a few words of English and the address of sponsors with a job in Walla Walla. A year later he was in Seattle, where he invited Jane Smith on a first date “to the beach.” This turned out to be a Cessna flight to the peninsula, hitchhiking to Second Beach trailhead, and a hike to the Pacific, setting the tone for the 54 years of adventure that followed their 1966 wedding.

In 1970 Jane and Cord bought a farmhouse on Vashon, welcomed their son, Christian, and launched a color separations company called Color Control. A few years later their daughter Trika was born. If you knew Cord, you were likely aware of his talent for photography, his love of wildlife, and his commitment to Color Control’s employees and clients. You might have gotten a tip on how to raise a bison, manage a fishing lodge in Alaska, plant a cedar, bottle-feed Scottish Highland calves, or beat the tide when backpacking. You probably heard what he found amazing about Antarctica, Spitsbergen, Kotzebue or some other spot he and Jane explored together, adding more wonderful stories to their arsenal.

In recent years you’ve found him at the Roasterie with Christian and dear friends, discussing politics or the outstanding qualities of his three Dutch grandsons over a cup of coffee. Cord was considerate of others, confident in himself, and an optimist with a great ability to be content with where he was at any point in life. He described a snowy morning or the blooming Chestnuts with the same enthusiasm shown in recounting when he and a friend climbed seven Swiss peaks in seven days or the time he got to take a trip on the Concorde. Cord expected people to be interesting and experiences to be wonderful; he was rarely disappointed. A small service for family will be held on Aug. 9.

To honor Cord you can do what we’ll do: go for a walk in the woods, take a good look around, and wonder, “Does it get any better than this?” Gratefully, Jane, Christian, Trika & Pieter, Daan, Marein, and Abe.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Obituaries

Gordon Wesley Barnes

Gordon will be remembered for his integrity, values, kindness, sense of humor and keen intellect.

LeRoy Clayton (Ray) Matthews

He fought his illness for the last few years and is now at peace.

Cord Heinrich Harms zum Spreckel

A small service for family will be held on Aug. 9.

C. J. Hormann

He will be missed.

Janet H. Sterling

She said she didn’t need an obituary, but she didn’t say anything about a thank you note.

Evan Clayton Morrow

His loss is deeply felt by those who’ve known Evan over the years.

Norene Reich

She was known for her sunny, positive outlook on life, devotion to her loved ones, and terrific wit.

Jolene Lamb

She passed away on Friday, June 12, 2020, at her home due to health complications.

Will Gerrior

It was clear that he never met a stranger.

Most Read