Richard Strain

Richard Strain, citizen of the world and Boys Ranch alumnus, left us peacefully on Wednesday, February 19, 2020, at the U.S. military hospital Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, after a long illness.

The funeral service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch Chapel in Boys Ranch, Texas. Burial will follow at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch Cemetery. Services are entrusted to Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors, Amarillo.

Richard was born in Amarillo, Texas, on March 20, 1930, to Joseph Garnett Strain and Sarah Strain née Mullins. His fraternal twin brother, Robert Ray Strain, was born minutes later on the same date. The boys spent the Depression years with their mother in Amarillo at 616 Jefferson and 308 N. Lincoln, until she passed away on Oct. 18, 1939.

The twin boys found themselves in the Amarillo office of Boys Ranch founder Cal Farley one winter day shortly after losing their mother. Mr. Farley explained to them that he had just started a home for young boys about 35 miles Northwest of Amarillo, and then invited Richard and Robert to jump into the back of his pickup with three other boys to start the long drive out to Old Tascosa, where Boys Ranch is located. Thanks to Mr. Farley, Richard and Robert were given a fresh start on life, becoming the 19th and 20th boys to arrive at Boys Ranch. At the time, the ranch consisted of an old courthouse, a one-room schoolhouse, and the adobe home of Old Tascosa’s last living resident, Frenchy McCormick.

Richard graduated from high school in Dumas, Texas, in 1949, and then worked for Boxwell Brothers Funeral Home there. Knowing his Boys Ranch background, Ivan Boxwell wanted to offer Richard a profession and so had planned to send him to the School of Mortuary Science in Houston.

History decided otherwise. With the advent of the Korean War, Richard was accepted into the U.S. Navy, shipping out from San Diego, CA. He spent five years aboard ship in the Pacific, putting into ports in South Korea and in Japan. Before discharge from the Navy in 1954, Richard was able to travel through Japan by train, crossing the devastated cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to visit his brother Robert, who was recovering from serious injuries incurred in combat in South Korea as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. Robert spent the remainder of his life in Amarillo, leaving this world after a heart attack, in 1990 at age 60. He is buried at Boys Ranch cemetery.

Richard enrolled at Texas Tech University in Lubbock and spent two years studying economics. Although he loved economics, a side of himself said “college life is not for me.”

He left Lubbock to join the U.S. Air Force, completing his basic training in Texas. In 1957, his first assignment took him to Royal Air Force (RAF) Upper Heyford, England, where he met his future wife, Herta Maria Ebner, from Mariazell, Austria. They married in Oxford, England, on April 18, 1959. Sixty years later, they celebrated their Diamond wedding anniversary in Madrid and Cadiz, Spain. They had one daughter, Carol Anne, born in Chisledon near Swindon, England, in 1961.

In typical military style, the Strain family stayed on the move for the next 20 years, with Richard stationed at the following bases: Warren Air Force Base (AFB), Cheyenne, Wyoming; RAF bases Brize Norton, Fairford, High Wycombe, and Welford in England; Truax Field, Madison, Wisconsin; Ent AFB and Cheyenne Mountain with the North American Aerospace Defense Command, Colorado Springs, Colorado; Clark AFB, Philippines, with the 1st MOB, including nine months of temporary duty in Osan and Gwangju, South Korea; Malmstrom AFB, Great Falls, Montana; Tan Son Nhut AFB, Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam; Scott AFB, Belleville, Illinois; and finally in 1974, Ramstein AB, Kaiserslautern, Germany, as Chief of Security with the 1964th Communications Group.

After 30 years, 2 months, and 22 days of service, including his Navy years, Richard retired from the U.S. Air Force in September 1981 as a Chief Master Sergeant. Never one to shirk work thanks to his time at Boys Ranch in the early days, he retired a second time in 1995, from the U.S. civil service where he managed telecommunications operations for the Ready team. He went on to volunteer at the American Red Cross until the final months of his life. In his spare time, Richard loved to fix pretty much anything, especially fiddling with old radios and tuning cars. He also enjoyed reading, writing, telling stories, swimming, biking, camping, and traveling the globe, mainly driving across the Alps in Europe in his van, listening to country music greats such as Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, and Tammy Wynette, and European pop groups including Abba and Boney M.

Immediate surviving family members are Richard’s wife Herta, with whom he resided in Otterbach and Weilerbach, Germany, after military retirement; his daughter Carol, who lived for more than 30 years in or near Paris, France, with her husband Pablo Guzman, from Quito, Ecuador, before they moved to Madrid, Spain; and their son Andreas, who currently works as a filmmaker in Hong Kong SAR, China.

23 Replies to “Richard Strain”

  1. Dear Herta, Carol, Pablo and Andreas, I was so sorry when I heard about Richard’s passing. Richard was such a wonderful person and was so funny and kind, welcoming me into the family with open arms. I know this is such a difficult time, but hope you will find comfort in sharing memories of him together. I am am sending lots of love to you all and offer my deepest condolences for your loss.
    Love, Emma

  2. Like so many others, I met Mr. Strain while stationed at Ramstein AB from 87 to 92. I regret not being able to hear these stories from him. My condolences to the family. I pray for peace through your grieving.

  3. I first met Dick Strain when I arrived at Ramstein AB Germany in 1988. I was a young Staff Sergeant with only 4 years in the Air Force and brand new to Communications. I was fortunate enough to be assigned to Dick’s workcenter which was located in the South Side Switch as part of the 1964th Communications Group. Dick was an extremely energetic civil service employee and he was ferocious on the computer keyboard as he tirelessly worked major communication cable projects supporting the entire base. Dick’s work ethic, attention to detail, and genuine concern for his employees was beyond reproach. I can honestly say he was one of the best mentors I had as young NCO in the USAF. The work and life lessons he taught me over a 12 month period have stayed with me my entire career. Having read his obituary, it is with profound regret that I did not know of this man’s accomplishments when I had the opportunity to thank him for his service. God bless him on his new journey and his family as they mourn his passing.

  4. Richard will always be in our thoughts and in our hearts, we feel blessed to have received his generous and warm affection and to have shared some moments that will always be so special to us.
    With much love,
    Cristina, Christian and Gabriel

  5. My wife, Madaline, myself, John (Amerigo) and Rita Varca, and Dick and Herta enjoyed what we called Sunday Brunch at the Ramstein AFB BX’s food court each Sunday Dick and Herta were in country from 2010 through 2014. Dick and Herta loved to travel, so we got the most out of their time we could. Those were great times and we kept in touch until just before he went home to our Father in Heaven. Many blessings and prayers to Herta in her time of Earthly grieving. Know that Dick is in God’s loving hands and will see you when you return to our Heavenly Father.
    Your friends forever, Pat and Madaline Patton

  6. So sorry to hear of Richard’s passing. I served under his command at RAF Welford in 1965-67 with Det. 2. 1969th Comm Squadron. He was a straight shooter and all around nice guy. He always looked out for the airman under his command. My condolences to Herta and Carol.

  7. I met Richard Strain when I started working for the 1964th CG in 1985. There was one incident I’ll never forget. He walked into my office one day and found me with tears in my eyes. When I told him that a customer got very irate with me, he asked for the name and phone number. He returned a few minutes later to tell me that this customer would never make me cry again…. I last saw him before I left for the US in 2005, he was volunteering at the Hospital and always stopped by the office to say hello. He was a great man and will be missed dearly. Condolences to Herta and Carol.

  8. I first met Dick in 1977 at Ramstein AB, Germany. Living in the same base housing unit our assigned parking spots were side by side. Sharing a common interest in automobiles, what started as a casual conversation grew to a lasting friendship that spanned years. After our assignment to Ramstein ended our relationship with Dick and Herta continued thru vacation visits both in Germany and the United States. Eventually our communication would evolve into emails. I so enjoyed these conversations as Dick was an excellent communicator telling stories of his daily experiences with humor and candor. Helga and I will miss him. To Herta, Carol and all of his extended family, our prayers are with you all as you move forward knowing his love will shine down upon you forever.

  9. Dear Herta and family:
    Dick was a special man. I’m so glad I got to meet him and “cruise” with you both. He will be greatly missed. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.
    Catherine Rice

  10. My sincerest condolences to his family. I’ve known “Chief” since 2006 – 2009 in my first assignment in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Pharmacy Department. I was a young Specialist back then and work closely with him because he was assisting us on our day to day mission in the department. He was so great to have and always positive mentor for me. His dedication to the service and even after his remarkable military career was second to none. I’ve again worked with “Chief” from 2015 – 2019 in my second tour in LRMC. He would call me every other day to informed that he is coming in to volunteer. His health was not the greatest during this times but his compassion and dedication to help our department to take care the Soldiers, Airman, Sailors, Marine, retirees and family members was unmeasurable.

    SFC Pagtakhan, Bryan
    USA Army, Fort Carson, CO

  11. Was stationed with Richard 79 to 82 in the 1964th. Was a great man and friend. Will miss you brother. Just so happy I was able to see you last Sept.

  12. Thank you for your service Mr. Strain.
    We live here in Texas and have a boy currently in Boys Ranch. Such a touching obituary. Condolences to the family.

  13. Surely a man of this world; he lived the life he envisioned once he joined the Air Force and spent his lifetime dedicated not to just his family but to his country as noted by his many different assignments. I spent some time with Dick but not enough to really get to know him; may you rest in peace fellow Chief. Heartfelt condolences to Herta and daughter Carole.

  14. Dear Herta and family; Wishing you peace to bring comfort, courage to face the days ahead and loving memories to forever hold in your heart. May memories of Dick and the love of family surround you and give you strength in the days ahead. God Bless You All.

  15. Querida Carol, siento mucho la muerte de tu padre! Tengo un dulce recuerdo de el. Siempre senti un especial cariño con ellos, Tu perdida es muy dura, encuentra consuelo en el amor de tu familia, acompañale y cuida mucho de tu Mami.
    Te queremos mucho!
    Mahmoud y Lolo

  16. Dear Carole . Very sorry about your Dad . Thinking of you , your family and your mum
    At this difficult moment
    Xxxxx
    Condoléances from the children
    To you and Andreas

  17. Opa : you adopted me as your grand daughter 30 years ago . You took me to road trips in Europe with Herta and Carol. You told me stories about life and wars. You were with me on those special times in my life. Thanks for your generosity and love. You will always be in my heart. Rest In Peace I love you.
    Silvia

  18. I am so sorry to hear of Richard’s passing. I know he’s been ill for some time and am glad that those he loved most were able to spend time with him and with Herta these last years. Thank you for posting his story – what an impressive man. He lived a life of service to his country and community and found a wonderful life partner in Herta. I know he must have been inordinately proud of his loving, bright and talented daughter and grandson. Clearly a live well-lived. I know you will miss him. My love to all of you.

  19. Richard (Digger) was a great friend we miss and loved him very much. Herta and Carol our prayers are with you and your family during this hard time.
    Your old Friends,
    Jerry and Nancy Powell

  20. What a blessing to have such warm memories of time with Dick. One of a kind American warrior . Rest In Peace, dear friend. You will be so very missed. Deepest condolences to Herta, Carol and her family .

  21. A nuestro querido Richard, Opa de nuestros hijos y nietos, por derecho de afecto. Tuvimos la suerte de haberlo conocido y compartido tantos momentos hermosos, escuchando sus historias y disfrutando de sus bromas, de paseos, de haberlos tenido Opa y Oma en nuestra casa en Cumbayá-Quito, Ecuador. ¡ lo olvidaremos! Que descanse en paz.

  22. My sincerest condolences Carol, to you, your Mother, Pablo and all of the family. Your Father had and amazing life!

    Italia and family

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