Raleigh Miles Roark, beloved husband of Beth Preslar, died peacefully at home on Vashon on Saturday April 6th at 76 years of age. He had sudden onset of acute leukemia in early March and rallied to make it home on hospice, where he had a month of enjoying visits from family and friends, along with delectable food, surrounded by his books, art and dolls. His spirit and intellect remained strong, and he was kind and good-humored about his situation, making caregivers comfortable as they cared for him.
Raleigh was born in Torrance, California, on January 5, 1943 to Doris Rose Dobson and Howard Miles Roark. He was raised in the Dobson family bosom in Los Angeles until his family moved to Mercer Island WA when he was 8 years old, where the family lived on an 8-acre farm and orchard with waterfront. He spent his life primarily in the Pacific Northwest, living on Vashon Island since 1993, as it reminded him of Mercer Island in days gone by. He served in the U.S. Army from 1963-1965 at Fort Carson CO and, interwoven with stints of school at Reed College and UW Seattle, travelled around the United States, learning to play the banjo up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The View Ridge Ramblers, comprised of Raleigh and friends, played bluegrass gigs in Pioneer Square, achieving their apex of success by receiving beer for tunes. He also played flamenco guitar, ukulele and a bit of harmonica.
He loved music, obtaining a degree in ethnomusicology from UW Seattle. And he loved hobby computing, which led him to work eventually for the Microsoft Corporation, developing the mouse and CD-ROM technologies. Time spent in Japan for work gave him a lifelong passion for Japanese culture, both traditional and popular. He also loved France, and reveled in the outdoors, culture and food with his chosen family there. Vashon was his refuge and the last few years were spent here, with sheep in the pasture as his daily screensaver and the pleasures of reading, computing and 3D printing. The weekly rounds of island pleasure included going postal, Granny’s foraging, a coffee at the Vashon Bakery or AJ’s, with his grand daily pleasure being the Vashon Library and social moments there.
Raleigh loved his family and friends intensely. He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Beth Preslar; his brother Chris Boardman (Ruby Bowman) of Colorado; step-siblings Anne Boardman, Thom Bowser and Chuck Bowser of the Bay Area; his Virginia family Anne and Stephen Berk and their 5 children and 4 grandchildren; and his Preslar family in North Carolina. He was grateful to his brother Chris and nieces Natalie Berk and Hannah Berk for their visits in March, and to his god-daughter Melissa Masquelier-Costa for being here, and all the tangible and intangible support he received from friends: uplifting visits, cheering emails, favorite foods and a beautiful quilt. His gratitude to Anne and Stephen Berk for providing support, love and sustenance throughout, is boundless.
Special thanks to the Vashon Hospice team from Providence for their compassion and care, and to the Vashon Care Network, whose caregivers and Care Closet made all things possible. A heartfelt thank you to his physician of 23 years, Diana Perkinson MD, for keeping him here and healthy as a kidney transplant and stroke survivor. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Vashon Care Network, King County Library System and Vashon Friends of the Library.