Back to
Columns Magazine
Jon K. Rider, 1940-2010
A Born Leader

Jon Rider
Jon K. Rider, ’62, ’63, a former Marine commander who changed careers and spent six years as executive director of the University of Washington Alumni Association, died Aug. 9 of pulmonary disease at his home in Kennewick. He was 70.

Born Jan. 9, 1940, in Seattle, Rider attended Roosevelt High School before matriculating at the UW. He served three tours of duty during the Vietnam War, earned two master’s degrees (one at Pepperdine University and another at the University of Maryland), and earned an advanced degree from the Naval War College.

After 27 years in the Marine Corps—where he was commander of the School of Infantry at Camp Pendleton—he headed the UWAA from 1990 to 1996. He later worked as a consultant and training expert at the Pacific Northwest National Labs in Kennewick.

Despite his long career in the military, he was known as a gentle soul with a warm manner and easy laugh. As a tribute, his old Seattle rowing team, the Ancient Mariners, named its new rowing shell the Jon K. Rider.

Rider is survived by four daughters, his sister Carolyn, granddaughter Jordan, best friend Robin and former wife Ellen. Donations in Rider’s honor can be made to the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis at:

3 Responses to Jon K. Rider, 1940-2010

  1. Thomas J. Lewis says:

    It should also be noted that (then) Major Rider was the Marine Officer Instructor of the UW NROTC program during the early 1970s. Some of us remember a bit of a legend about how some perhaps overly enthused anti-war demonstrators apparently intent on making mischief in Clark Hall were met at the top of the stairs by an even more determined Major Rider. Perhaps this was only a story, but what cannot be denied is that he was among the most memorable of instructors, a warrior of great tenacity and demonstrable courage, who taught us by example to take care of those who would follow us, and perhaps because of and not despite of his long career in the military, indeed a gentle soul with a warm manner and quick laugh. He is missed.

    Thomas J. Lewis 76, MBA 81
    Dripping Springs, TX

    • William Curtis says:

      As a NROTC midshipman at the UW, I remember (then) Major Rider well. He was a legend at Clark Hall, as we all knew about his parachuting accident when a midshipmen himself at Washington. Midshipman Rider had fallen onto hot power lines after parachuting. He sustained serious burns but managed to finish college and receive his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps.

      Once as I was entering Clark Hall, campus protesters (fall 1973) were marching en masse towards the building yelling and chanting. The protestors carried their large signs and were holding bricks. Entering the building I saw “Major Rider” walking down the stairs and I yelled “prepare to repel boarders”, “Anarchists are coming!” The “Major” took control of the situation and calmly negotiated with the hippies until they decided to disperse, another victory for the USMC.
      On a spring day I remember Major Rider bringing out cases of tinned sea/rat’s for the middies to feast on. I’ll never forget him sitting down on Clark Hall’s steps opening cans with his large Randall Mark 14 “Attack” knife telling us sea stories which were often full of gut-busting humor. There are many more happenings I could relate, like what happened during spring break ‘74 at the MCAS El Toro officers club, but I’ll refrain for now in order to continue protecting the innocent.

      Col. Rider was a fine man and officer. Many midshipmen chose to become marines due to Col. Rider and his tenure at Washington. I later reacquainted myself with Col. Rider in the ‘90s while visiting Seattle, when he was the UW Alumni Association’s chief headhunter. We talked and reminisced a bit about old times at Clark Hall. His memory, wisdom and good nature were in top form that day as we walked about the campus. I remember thinking how refreshing it was to visit with Jon that day. In this crazy world of ours there are far too few fine souls like Col. Jon K. Rider USMC, he was a hell-of-a good marine!

  2. Paul Harvey says:

    In honor of Jon K. Rider, the Ancient Mariners Rowing Club in Seattle, has named a new Pocock Racing shell in memory of Jon.

    Jon was the “self proclaimed” SPIRITUAL LEADER of the Ancient Mariners, a fierce competitor and wonderfully steady leader in the Club. The christening of the JON K. RIDER will occur at Green Lake @ 10:30 AM on Saturday March 19th prior to the craft’s first race.

    God bless you Jon……….I am sure Heaven will never be the same! Paul Harvey

What Do You Think?

Use the form below to comment on this story. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Personal attacks, insults, profanity, solicitations and spam are prohibited. The UW Alumni Association reserves the right to remove comments. For more information, please read our comment FAQ.