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Robert H. Richmond, 1927-1992


Posted By: Emmet County IAGenWeb Coordinator (email)
Date: 3/8/2009 at 19:55:10

Daughter pens tribute to late Robert H. Richmond

The late Robert H. Richmond

(Editor's note: This story was written by Barbara Atkins, daughter of Robert H. Richmond, and read at his funeral in March 1992. Bob was born July 4, 1927, grew up in Armstrong and passed away shortly before the centennial celebration, which he had very much wanted to attend. When the Journal published its special centennial edition in 1993, of the hundreds of photos that were submitted, his was the only one In the servicemen's section that was misidentified. We publish this tribute entitled "Robert H. Richmond, Husband, Father, Grandfather and Patriot" as a way of making up for the error.)

In the last part of the nineteenth century, four generations ago, Bob Richmond's great-grandparents rode westward onto the Great Plains of North America. Riding with them was a young girl, Grace Eleanor Clark, Bob's grandmother. They settled in northern Iowa, near an area that became the town of Armstrong. The topsoil in Iowa sometimes runs eight feet thick. It can be the color of asphalt and, a newly turned field has an unbelievable black richness to it. Working with their hands, farmers "made the" Great Plains the food basket of the world, and along the way, they made America into a great country. Into that background, in 1927, Robert Heston Richmond was born.

It would not be true to paint his life as idyllic. His mother Lorene died when he was five. Bob and his sisters were raised by their father and grandmother, Grace Eleanor Clark Richmond-the same woman who rode west in a wagon to a new land. Perhaps his family situation was not ideal but the rural farming community of Armstrong provided an almost perfect, purely American setting for Bob to grow in. The wide sky, the black earth and the support of the community...small town high school basketball games, the pool hall and the nurture of friends and neighbors defined the world where Bob started. The picture I see is the basis for a thousand books, a million pictures, hundreds of movies. It is a picture of the heartland of America.

Near the end of World War II, Bob joined the U.S. Navy. Over the next 30 years he finished college at Iowa State and served his country faithfully as a sailor, a chief and an officer. During Dad's career the world saw the end of a world war, two smaller wars and many conflicts. Dad's duty carried him to the Philippines, to Cuba, to the Mediterranean Sea, to the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, to the South China Sea and into North Vietnam. Along the way the military got to be unpopular. Some of us doubted the wisdom of many things that happened. It seemed for a while that we were losing battles every day. Only now is it clear that Bob Richmond and men like him were winning the war. On his watch we avoided the big war, we won the biggest military face off in the history of the world and literally billions of people survived, a time that most of us grew up thinking it might end in a nuclear holocaust.

Along the way, by the way, Bob married Virginia McAfee and raised five children. He shared with his children the virtues he learned as a boy.

When Dad retired from the Navy, he and Mom bought a farm in St. Stephen, SC. Those of us who saw it early-on thought he had lost his mind. When I describe the farm as something Dad built, we all know that Mom did the biggest part, but Dad gets credit, too. They built this farm into the best thing that ever happened to a grandchild. They bought chickens, hogs, horses, peacocks, swans, fish and every imaginable gasoline powered riding device known to man. They gave wonderful barbecues, great oyster roasts and memorable Thanksgivings and Christmastimes. Dad always invited a crowd. My kids will always remember Grandpa's farm as a place where they could do whatever they wanted. If he cranked up the car and you were a kid, you should go with him. There was always a nice treat in town.

Dad liked nearly everybody. He still has friends wherever he lived. He has visited folks in Iowa, Michigan and South Dakota regularly all his life. Until recently he subscribed to the Armstrong Journal, his hometown newspaper. Dad was from the Midwest and in some ways he never left. You know, that place that Dad was from is called the heartland of America, but it isn't really the place that defines the heartland, it is people like Dad. Dad was the quintessential American. He gave us all the virtues that made our country great (and not too many of the vices). Not many will live a life as well as Bob Richmond lived his. We love you, Dad, and we shall miss you.

Contributed by: James M. Richmond . Source: Armstrong, Iowa, Armstrong Journal, Wednesday, July 12, 2000, page 8.


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