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Lawrence A. Richards

Company A-1

11 Jan 1940 - 28 Jan 1987

Place of Death: Tiburon, CA

Interment: St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Belvedere, CA


Class Memorial Pages\A-1 Larry Richards.pdf

Assembly/Taps Memorial Article:

Lawrence Arthur Richards '61
No. 23760- II Jan I940-28 Jun 1987
Died in Tiburon, CA
 Interred in St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Belvedere, CA

A hallmark of Lawrence Arthur Richards' life was the quality of the human relationships he fostered everywhere he went—from childhood to the day he died. "I was always impressed," his widow Jeanne writes, "by his natural, informal diplomacy that made for many enduring friendships with colleagues, foreign military officers, and civilians." Jeanne continues to hear from Larry's friends in many places. Wherever he lived, Larry quickly became involved in community activities, coaching soccer and softball, teaching scuba diving, and the Boy Scouts.

Larry was born at Ft. Monmouth, NJ, the son of Daniel A. Richards '37 and Jane Richards, nee Twinting. Larry has an older sister, Judith, and a younger brother, James '69. His boyhood was spent at Army posts far and wide. Larry and Judy learned to ski in Germany where, his father remembers, they would strap on their skis in the dining room and trundle out through French doors directly onto a slope. Judy remembers Larry's model airplanes, his go-carts and his tumbling at play with his pet Boxers, "just as he did later with his children, 'Tom and Mary.''

At USMA, Larry tolerated academics, but his enthusiasm lay in sports. He participated in gymnastics, soccer, and track. He loved spicing up life with friendly little competitions, and his roommate, Quincy Holton, remembers such as who could hang on a bar the longest. Larry treated all with a graciousness that softened his underlying competitiveness.

Upon graduation, Larry went into the Infantry, training as a paratrooper, ranger, and pathfinder, and serving four years with the 101st and 82d Airborne Divisions. Larry took a leave of absence during 1965-66 to take pre-med courses. His objective of becoming a doctor was frustrated, however, by two tours in Viet Nam. Larry received the Bronze Star, the Commendation Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge for his service in Viet Nam. In 1972, Larry earned an MBA from Golden Gate University in California. After tours with NATO, Southeast Headquarters in Izmir, Turkey, and CDCEC, he left Active Duty as a major in 1975.

In civilian life, Larry continued to serve in the Army Reserve while becoming a manager in 1976 of the comptroller's office in the Bechtel Corporation, where he developed computer software. Larry's career at Bechtel overlapped with his father's "second career" with them, and the two enjoyed a number of lunches in San Francisco. Larry worked at Bechtel until his death.

As a plebe, Larry met pretty 15-year-old Jeannette Dilg. "As if by prior arrangement," she writes 42 years later, "Larry stepped out from behind one of those suits of armor." He was a smiling, tall, handsome, well-built 17-year-old in cadet gray with a charmingly crooked nose.

Classmate Lynn Bender recalled, "I was dating a girl and asked Larry to "drag" her friend. Larry was dubious, so they agreed I would show the girls around the West Point Museum and Larry, unseen, would check them out. If he liked what he saw, he would approach and introduce himself.  Larry took one peep from behind that suit of armor and stepping out to meet Jeanne was Larry's smartest move in life. It was a most happy relationship. They married in 1964 and raised two children—Tom and Mary. Larry's friend, Sam Burney '64, speaks of the extraordinary pride and affection Larry always had for his family. Sam reminisces with a tone of awe at the deep level of involvement Larry had in his children's lives.

"When I ruptured my kidney playing football," his son Tom recalled, "he was on the field within seconds. After the doctor told me I should stop playing football and focus on swimming, Dad brought home a waterpolo ball. When I played my first game in college after he died, I looked up into the stands only to realize that, for the first rime, no one was watching me."

In 1983, an x-ray revealed a dark spot on one of Larry's lungs—it was cancer. For four long years, Larry valiantly fought that disease, through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. He focused on two things during that time—his family and the disease. As the end approached in the spring of 1987, his appearance took on that of a man decades older than his 47 years.

Four dates became important for Larry—his son Tom obtaining his Eagle Scout status and graduating from high school; his daughter Mary completing her championship season as catcher on her school softball team (Larry never missed a game); and his parents' 50th wedding anniversary. They all occurred during May through June 1987. Larry made all four events, but died shortly after, on 28 Jun 1987, at 47 years of age.

Larry left behind his beloved Jeanne, Tom, and Mary. Jeanne went on to law school and is now a lawyer. She guided both Tom and Mary off to Yale University. Tom is now at Harvard Medical School, and Mary is at UC-San Diego Medical School. It is easy to see why Larry was so proud of all three of them.

Larry's continued presence in their lives is poignantly captured by his daughter, Mary. As her wedding day approached, she writes, "I feared his absence would leave me sad on what should be a happy day. But it turned out I felt his presence more strongly than any day since he died. He was there with me as his father walked me down the aisle, as my uncle gave a memorable toast at the reception, and as my mother competently oversaw the whole event."

Similarly, Tom writes, '"When I hear myself encourage somebody, I hear my father speaking through me."

That Long Island girl who supported him through thick and thin, Jeannette Dilg Richards, writes, "Reporting what Larry did doesn't begin to measure the man. He had a remarkable mix of qualities that truly enriched the lives of all around him. He had great strength—physical and mental. He had an eagerness for challenge, a high tolerance for risk, an inability to complain, and a great sense of calm during crisises. He exuded confidence and optimism. He inspired courage in the weakest of us that knew him. He had an unerring sense of direction most welcomed by his family when caught in desert thunderstorms, mountain blizzards, and Turkish bazaars. He enjoyed buying paintings from the artist, hiding Easter eggs in fields of wild flowers, exploring wilderness areas, and spending an arctic night in an igloo of his own making. He was romantic, kind, compassionate, and supportive. He could establish immediate rapport with shy youngsters, frightened animals, and crotchety seniors. He was generous, enthusiastic, always encouraging. He was a wonderful husband, father, son, and brother. He had energy, humor, and an irrepressible joie de vivre. Life with Larry was fun."

Compiled with the help of many by Rod Cameron '61, Co. A-1