Richard Lee Detweiler

Richard Lee Detweiler


Richard “Dick” Lee Detweiler was born on March 25, 1954 in St. Louis, Missouri. He was the eldest of Rev. Richard Jessee and Mary Lou (Wooldridge) Detweiler’s 4 children including Peter, Paul, and Susan. A major influence on his upbringing was his fathers’ occupation as a Methodist minister and servant to the people. Due to the nature of his father’s work, the family moved around and he experienced many towns across Missouri including Hayti, Crystal City, and of course Kirksville. Growing up, Richard spent his summers at the family cabin “Happy Hearth” on the shores of Crystal Lake near Frankfort, Michigan. Some of his fondest childhood memories took place on Crystal Lake and it remained a special place for him throughout his life. He was never short on stories from his childhood, and he loved his parents and siblings with all his heart.

Richard graduated from Kirksville High School in 1972. He enlisted in the Navy shortly after high school and was stationed aboard the USS Piedmont. During his military service, he traveled all over the world, including Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Alaska. One of his most memorable experiences during these travels was seeing the ruins of Pompeii. After his time in the service, Richard attended Northeast Missouri State University (NMSU) and earned his BS in Business Administration in 1982. During the summers, he spent his time working for the Santa Fe railroad. It was during his time at college that he met his future wife of nearly 40 years, Sue (Benjamin) Detweiler. They met in the fall of 1977 at the Taproom, which was a popular bar among college students at the time. They were married June 16, 1979 in Sue’s hometown of Tremont, IL. Richard often recalled the intense heat of that 100 degree day, sweltering in a thick beige polyester tuxedo. His father, Rev. RJ Detweiler, performed the service.

He often said that the best day of his life was September 24, 1984. On that day, at Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas, his twin daughters were born. Chrystal Dawn, named after the lake on which his childhood cabin sits, and Sara Beth, whom he fondly referred to as “Sara BB”.
He was as proud as a father could be, and the experience of fatherhood brought him great joy.

Sue and Richard moved back to Kirksville in 1989, where he spent the rest of his life in the town he loved. For a majority of his career he worked at Kraft Foods, in Kirksville as a purchasing agent. He was frequently awarded for his perfect attendance and dedication to his job.

One of his greatest accomplishments following retirement was his time serving as a Kirksville City Councilman. He served for nearly 11 consecutive years, 4 of which as Mayor of Kirksville. He was constantly striving to make Kirksville a wonderful place to live and visit. On behalf of the city council, he was heavily involved several community projects and endeavors. This included business retention and expansion, facilitation of the new sewer treatment plant, and upcoming construction of the new aquatic center. He was an advocate for community growth and assisted in the establishment of multiple projects and city improvements.

Throughout his lifetime, Richard enjoyed a variety of interests and hobbies, including camping, hunting, history, geography, and politics. He was an avid reader and particularly enjoyed auto-biographical works. He volunteered for several community committees and clubs including KDIC, CASA, Optimist Club, and ATC, and was a member if the First United Methodist Church. He was an excellent storyteller, enjoyed frequent family get-togethers, and was a big fan of all-you-can eat buffets.

Perhaps the greatest treasure of his life are his 3 grandsons. He could often be heard telling folks “Just when you think life can’t get any better, you become a grandparent!”. His grandchildren called him BaBa and is was his most coveted title.

Near the end of his life, Richard faced many medical and physical challenges. Throughout these challenges he remained steadfast and optimistic. Even on his most difficult days, he was never lacking for kind words or smiles.

Surviving Richard is wife Sue, daughters Chrystal (Dave Schwartz) of Port Townsend, WA, and Sara (Josh Funk) of Kirksville, MO, and grandsons Julian and Lewis Funk and Aldo Schwartz, mother Mary Lou Detweiler of Kirksville, MO, brothers Peter (Kady) and Paul Detweiler all of Kirksville, MO, sister Susan Detweiler of Kirksville, MO, Uncle Jack (John) and Aunt Kim Detweiler, nieces and nephews; Abby, Ashley, Jesse, Jenica and Jeff, sister-in-law Julie (Jeff Tharp).

Richard was preceded in death by his grandparents and father, Reverend Richard Jesse Detweiler.

To celebrate Richard’s life, all are invited to join his family for a service at First United Methodist Church, 300 E Washington St, Kirksville, MO at 1:00 on Saturday, January 19. An informal visitation will be held at the church immediately following the service.

Expressions of sympathy in memory of Richard Detweiler may be made to the First United Methodist Church and may be left at the church or mailed to Travis-Noe Funeral Home, P.O. Box 306, Kirksville, MO 63501.

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