Nelson and Cantwell

Dakota Creek Industries co-founder Dick Nelson talks with U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington in February 2019 about new shipbuildings projects.

ANACORTES — Dick Nelson, who co-founded Dakota Creek Industries, died Thursday, the Anacortes shipyard announced. He was 78.

Nelson's passing was announced in a company statement read by Port of Anacortes Executive Director Dan Worra at the port's commission meeting on Thursday evening.

"He passed peacefully earlier this morning after a courageous battle with cancer," Dakota Creek Industries said in the statement read by Worra. "Dick taught us many things, but most of all he drilled it into us that DCI employees are the true assets of the company — a company that he was extremely proud of."

Dakota Creek Industries was founded in 1975 in Blaine and initially focused on repair and conversion work before relocating in 1977 to Anacortes, where it began building new vessels, including fishing vessels, tug boats, commercial and government vessels, according to the company's website. 

The company remains a privately held, family-run business.

"(Dick's) legacy will live on in the projects we complete with pride and integrity, and with the trademark quality that Dakota Creek is known for world-wide," Dakota Creek Industries said in its statement. 

The shipyard is one of Skagit County's major employers and employs several hundred.

— Reporter Jacqueline Allison:, 360-416-2145, Twitter: @Jacqueline_SVH

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