Richard was born in Enshih, China, on January 5, 1925, to the Reverend Herman Richard and Edna Klein, who were LCMS missionaries to the Hankow region of China. He was the second oldest of eleven brothers and sisters. He spent the first twelve years of his life in China before moving to the United States to attend school.
Richard was preceded in death by his father, mother, stepmother Ruth, and brothers: Bob, Tom, Bill, Jim, and Joseph. He is survived by his brother, Ray, and sisters: Dorothy, Ruth, Lois, and Nicki. He is also survived by his loving wife Irene; sons Mark (Janet), Matthew (Sharlene); grandchildren Josh, Gabe, Benjamin, and Kristin; as well as great-grandchildren Dylan, Carter, Andrew, Samuel, Hannah, Vivian, Peter, and Noelle. To his family he was affectionately known as Opa.
The family moved to Pueblo, Colorado in 1937. His father returned to China, and shortly after, his mother died in childbirth.
Richard started high school in Pueblo. For his sophomore and junior years, Richard and brother Bill attended St. John’s Boarding School in Winfield, Kansas. He graduated from Pueblo Central High School, while living with their Uncle Charles and Aunt Elizabeth.
Upon graduation in 1943, Richard joined the Navy V-12 program at Colorado College. He transferred to the University of Oklahoma NROTC program, receiving an Ensigns USNR commission in January 1946. In August 1946, after receiving an Honorable Discharge from the Navy, he spent the 10 years serving in the Naval Reserves. He finished college at the University of Southern California and began his professional career at Byron Jackson Pumps.
During his time at USC, he met the love of his life, Irene Grupe, at a Walther League function. They married on August 30, 1950 at Redeemer Lutheran Church in South Gate, California. Their wedding took place on a Wednesday evening to accommodate Richard’s father, who served as a pastor in the Provo, Utah area and could not be gone on weekends.
Richard spent his entire work career with Byron Jackson Pumps first as a salesman covering the western United States by car, and eventually became the Vice President of sales and marketing. He spent about four years of his career in Holland where he oversaw the Middle East, Africa, and European sales division. His work often took him away from home, but his love for his family compelled him to include his wife and sons in as many of his travels as possible. Further, he often invited work associates to the family home for dinner meetings to enjoy his family and Irene’s great cooking. Richard was a master of hospitality, generosity, and conversation.
Family was always important to Richard. Not a summer went by that he and Irene did not visit relatives. He was instrumental in organizing 50 years of family reunions around the country. Also, he and Irene traced the Klein family roots back to La Petite Pierre in France where he was influential in initiating a reunion for Kleins in France and Germany. On the in-law side in California, much time was spent with family—from weekly card games, to summer breakfasts in the park, to ongoing Christmas parties, to slumber parties for New Year’s Eve with the Grupe cousins. A real highlight was over 50 years (and counting) of annual summer camping at the Devil’s Postpile National Monument.
Richard’s many interests included travel, golf, art expression in multiple media (almost every family member has one or more of his oil paintings), family time, and serving in his church in many leadership positions. After spending the first part of retirement in Southern California, Richard and Irene moved to Washington in 2006. Over the last 14 years much time was spent with the Washington branch of his family and hosting many visitors. While dementia took over during the last few years of his life he never stopped loving his wife, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Even during his final days his eye would brighten and he would smile at the sight of his great grandchildren.
Richard will be missed greatly, but we rejoice that he is free of pain and confusion, and that he is reunited with friends and family in the presence of our Heavenly Father. We have no doubt Richard will hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
We love you Opa!