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R.I.P. Richard Dale Vandiver (1/1/38 – 11/13/12)

Richard “Dick” Vandiver passed peacefully into the night on Tuesday November 13, 2012.  He bravely fought a short, fierce battle with a rare form of liver cancer. 

Richard Dale was born in Lebanon, Oregon on January 1, 1938 to Paul and Irva (Snyder) Vandiver, he was raised in a Mennonite culture to a family heavily involved in medical fields.  He attended GoshenCollege in northern Indiana where he met his first wife, LaVon (Springer) Devlin.  Their first daughter Joni Lynn (‘59) was born in Indiana.  The three of them then moved to Boulder, Colorado where he received his BA in Psychology at CU Boulder two days before their second daughter, Jana Kay (’62) was born.  Richard also earned an MA in Sociology at CU Boulder just before they all moved to Rock Island, Illinois where he taught at AugustanaCollege.  It was in Moline, Il that their son, Jack David (’66) was born. The whole family then moved to Carbondale, Illinois where Richard earned his PhD in Sociology/Criminology at Southern Illinois University. 

In 1971, the family decided to move west, they loaded up the biggest U-Haul truck they could find, and headed to Missoula, Montana. Richard taught Sociology at the University of Montana from 1971 to 1988.  He held numerous positions in professional organizations and community agencies but he was very proud of the position he held and the influence he had in starting the Mountain Line Bus System in Missoula.

In 1988, he moved to Boston, MA at the same time his daughter, Jana lived in New York City.  The two spent great times together exploring the east coast from Maine to Delaware.  It was during this time that Jana bought him his first camera, which launched his love of photography and his Mother’s Art Nature Photography business.  From this time on, Richard was an avid photographer.  His plan had been to spend this winter going through his flower photos to publish a book of his work.

As a Trial Court Administrator, Consultant, and Nature Photographer, Richard moved from Massachusetts to Florida and then to Denver, CO.  He was living in Denver, Colorado when his first grandchild, Hadley Kay Vandiver was born in 1990.  Richard and his cousin/friend Ezra Yoder flew to Sydney, Australia to visit Hadley and watch her take her first steps in January 1991.  This was a favorite trip of his and one he spoke of often.

Richard’s parents eventually required greater care and attention and so it was  that he moved back to Oregon to be near them.  His grandchildren were extremely important to him and in 1997 his second grandchild, Sadie Lou was born in Maui, Hawaii.  Following close on her heels were Kaylynn Ruth in Honolulu, HI, David Anthony in Spokane, WA, Michaela Rose in Spokane, WA and Kawika Charles (K.C.) in Waimea, HI.

Richard loved to visit his grandchildren wherever they happened to live (Hawaii, Washington, Florida, Colorado, Montana, and Australia).  He made certain they all knew that he loved them, and how important they each were to him.  He loved fresh berries of all kinds and made sure they were always on the table at breakfast.  He was known by his children for his big bear hugs, his amazing breakfasts (especially when we were camping), and his incredible eyesight (he could spot a deer, a bear, a bird in the trees hundreds of feet away while he was driving up a mountain road).

In 2002, he moved to Gleneden Beach, Oregon to his very own beach house.  He loved the ocean but even more, he loved the agates and other rocks the ocean would wash to the shore.  He filled his house with healthy green plants and more rocks than you can imagine.  While working with the court system after his retirement, Richard met Janet Sweeny and they fell in love.

Their wedding in 2005 in Lincoln City, OR joined two families – Richard and Janet – Joni, Jana, Jack, Jennifer and Jeff, and their spouses and children.  In 2010, we all gathered again to celebrate 5 happy years of marriage by playing at the beach, finding agates, flying kites, and sharing many meals and glasses of dad’s favorite whiskey.

Richard and Janet became wine connoisseurs and enjoyed their trips to wineries in California to taste the wines and purchase “futures,” ensuring their return trip the following year. 

Richard is survived by his sister, Norma Jean Vandiver, his wife Janet Vandiver, his son, Jack Vandiver – children Michaela and David, his daughter, Joni Vandiver Isaman – husband David, children Kawika and Kaylynn, his daughter Jana Vandiver Felt – husband Stephen, children Sadie, Levi and Hadley, his mother-in-law Eileen Sweeney, his step-son, Jeff Sweeney – wife Christina, child Carter, his step-daughter, Jennifer Sweeney Aribibola – husband, Dele, children Kayode, Ayodele, Derek, and Sade, and his first wife, LaVon Devlin.  In addition, he leaves behind many, many friends and relatives who will miss him dearly.

We will have a service at the University Congregational Church in Missoula, MT this summer to celebrate Richard and his life.  For information contact janavanfelt@gmail.com

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5 thoughts on “R.I.P. Richard Dale Vandiver (1/1/38 – 11/13/12)”

  1. Well done Jana Kay! It breaks my heart to read it, but I think that when his friends read it they’ll feel like they shared a good man’s life in some way. I love you!

  2. Though I never saw Dick after he left Missoula, I heard about him from friends and family. The sad thing is – as so often happens – one learns more about people when they pass away than they knew when they were living. He had lots of talent and many interests. I thought of attending my 50th CU reunion, and I would have been able to see him had I done so. A chance missed!

    Lovely that Joni has joined you in Bigfork, Jana. I hope to see you all next summer when you gather to celebrate his life. Please keep me posted on the when.

    Carol (Hayes)

  3. Dick and I reconnected a few years ago and had been exchanging emails on a regular basis since. We first met when he moved to Missoula where I was teaching and working in the Sociology doctoral program. We became friends and spent many hours together with Jana collecting old barn lumber from which we built furniture. I last heard from him when he told me of his illness. Rest in peace my friend….Robert Clark

  4. A beautiful life story. I knew Dick from Missoula, first as a professor of my mother’a, and then as a distant mentor who steered me to a Montana Board of Crime Control fellowship. Years later, I was defending a man in Clackamas County, Oregon Circuit Court and a familiar-looking fellow was observing from the gallery. Eventually he called my name and we were re-acquainted. He made sure to be in frequent contact and after he moved to the Oregon coast, a true friendship blossomed which was facilitated by the Internet. I very much appreciated and admired his progressiveness, optimism, love of nature, sense of humor, humanity and devotion to family. I will make every effort to join the celebration of his life in Missoula next summer. My thoughts are with his family and friends.

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