Dr. Richard E. Richards (Rick) died on March 20 at the age of 86 in Colorado Springs, Colo., from acute myeloid leukemia.
Rick was born in New Haven, Conn., to Oscar and Cecilia Richards. He graduated from Colorado College with a bachelor of arts, majoring in zoology and minoring in philosophy. He obtained his master of arts at the University of New Mexico, concentrating in the study of counseling psychology and vertebrate biology.
He met his first wife Erna C. Richards (divorced) while working at the University of New Mexico. They moved to Kennewick, Wash., where he taught biology for two years, after which they moved to Denver, Colo., where he taught biology, zoology and human physiology at South High School.
Two children were born during this time, Kenneth in January of 1961 and Cecilia in May of 1962. The four of them moved to Gunnison, Colo., in 1965 where Rick taught at Western State College (Western Colorado University) for 17 years obtaining the position of full professor once he received his doctor of arts from the University of Northern Colorado in 1976, where he concentrated his studies in biology and mammalian physiology. His research centered on the Ring-Tailed Cat (Bassariscus astutus).
Rick was closely associated with the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, Colo., as a student, caretaker, associate director and executive director. His main responsibility was in the day to day operations, in addition to other responsibilities and positions that he accepted over the years. Every spring he insured the Lab was open for students and faculty and every fall closed and protected for the winter.
In 1980, he married the love of his life, Sarah Jane Richards. In 1982, he retired from Western State College and they moved to Oregon to take care of his parents. He was granted emeritus professor of biology with Western at that time. While living in Oregon he worked for the Safari Game Search Foundation (Wildlife Safari) where he helped and supervised behavioral research projects for the University of Oregon, in addition to teaching the staff zoology and helping public school teachers design and implement educational workshops.
After his parents passed away, Rick moved back to Colorado and lived in Gunnison and Colorado Springs. He worked in a variety of different jobs including starting his own business in home and environmental inspections. He never stopped teaching. It was ingrained in him. He taught for Pikes Peak Community College and the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, and loved helping his grandchildren learn biology, anatomy and physiology.
Rick is survived by his wonderful wife Sarah, his brother, Adrian Richards (wife Efrosine), his children Kenneth Richards and Cecilia Gray (husband Frank), his step-children, Michael Muller (wife Debbie), Joy Payton (husband Kenneth), Janet Dillon (husband David) and Fred Muller (wife Patsy) and his beloved grandchildren Alexandria Gray and Gavin Gray.
If Rick were writing this obituary, he would also mention all of the dogs he loved and rescued during his lifetime that were integral to his happiness and contentment. He loved all animals.
Climbing mountains and communing with nature gave peace to his soul. He was passionate about classical music and enjoyed acting and singing. Everyone who knew him could identify him by his booming laugh. He also had strong opinions and was not afraid to voice them. Rick was definitely a character and one of a kind.
Please do not send flowers, but consider making a gift to the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (rmbl.org/donations), or to kcme.org/donate or a classic music station of your choice on his behalf. If you wish to offer condolences, you may email his wife Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org or his daughter Cecilia at CeciliaGray@me.com.