Richard Merle Bishop was born November 5th, 1929, in Anthony, Kansas. He was the youngest of Emzy and Myrtle (Michaels) Bishop’s eight children.
Born only 8 days after the beginning of the Great Depression, Richard attended school in Anthony through the sixth grade, but then, like many children in the Depression Era, left school to find work. He was driving a coal truck by the age of 13, with blocks on the pedals, and sleeping in the warehouse at night. Richard later joined a circus that was traveling through town, where besides doing general labor, he performed as a trick pony rider! Other early jobs included traveling with a carnival and working in a ketchup factory, all before the age of 17.
In early 1947, Richard was determined to join the United States Army and gave them a false date of birth in order to enlist. He finished basic training at Ft. Benning, Georgia. His first duty assignment was at White Sands Missile Base, New Mexico. In the Army, Richard finished his education, earning a high school diploma followed by advanced training in mechanics, electronics, and radar operations. His date of birth was later corrected and he was given credit for enlisting on December 7, 1947.
Richard married Roberta Jacobs on November 2, 1949. Shortly after their marriage, he departed for the Korean War. He was assigned as Driver and Aide to the Deputy Commander of the 25th Infantry Division, Major General Carl Fritzsche. His unit was at times engaged in front line combat.
After the War, Richard returned to his new wife. Initially stationed in the southeastern United States, Richard and Roberta started their family. Like all military families, the Bishops transferred from one assignment to the next, raising their children in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, and Texas. His skill as a Missile Control Radar Technician took the family overseas to Okinawa and South Korea. No matter where the Army sent them, Richard and Roberta always worked hard at helping their children feel at home. Whether they lived in government quarters, an Okinawan village, or their house in El Paso, each move was an adventure and home was wherever they were stationed.
After serving his country for nearly 21 years, Richard retired from the Army in 1968. Even though he earned a case full of commendations and medals and was offered opportunities to be commissioned as an officer, he proudly retired with the rank of Sergeant First Class.
Upon retirement, the family returned to Kansas, first to Wichita where he worked in aircraft instrumentation and then settling in Harper County. Richard continued to be a hard worker, as an elevator operator at the Danville Co-op and as a truck driver for Jayco and Elco. He drove trucks well into his seventies. Richard was a loyal member of the Harper American Legion, Jeff Long Post #104.
Richard’s children and grandchildren remember fondly “Grandpa Bishop’s” sense of humor, mischievous personality, and complete devotion to his family. His delight was always with the littlest family members, and even as his health began to decline, his face would light up whenever any of his great-grandchildren came to visit.
One of his grandchildren summed up her grandfather like this: “Today we lost our hero, our rock, our candy drawer, cake maker, comedian, magician, gardener, driver, bingo caller, color guard, our example of patience, our kind voice, our joker, our nap buddy, casino buff, our Beto Junction cinnamon roll partner, our veteran, our funny story teller, our example of hard work, traveler-- a thousand other things I can’t list right now. Today we lost our everything, but our everything went home to his one true love, our Grandma”.
Richard passed away July 29, 2019, at the age of 89, at Homestead Health Assisted Living in Wichita. He was preceded in death by his parents; his loving wife Roberta; brothers Harlan, Howard, and Dean; sisters Thelma, Gertrude, and Sarah; and his daughter-in-law Donna Bishop. Missing him dearly are his children Richard L. Bishop (Harper), Rebecca Garwood and husband Dale (Wichita), Robert Bishop and wife Connie (Wichita), Roxanna Kuhlmann and husband Steve (Woodridge, Illinois), 10 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, and 2 great-great grandchildren. He also leaves behind his sister Nellie Faye (northern California), and many nieces, nephews, and friends.
Graveside service was 10:00 a.m. Saturday, August 3, 2019 at the Harper Cemetery with Reverend Tal Tittsworth officiating and full military honors were provided by the United States Army Honor Guard.
Memorial contributions may be given to the Harper American Legion, Jeff Long Post #104, and can be sent in care of the funeral home.
Prairie Rose Funeral Home, 613 W 14th ~ Harper, Kansas 67058 was in charge of the arrangements. www.prairierosefuneralhomes.com