Richard O. Rydeen, known by most as Dick, passed away peacefully on March 23, 2021 at St. Pete’s Hospital in Helena, MT from complications of COVID. Dick was born June 10,1943 in Kalispell, MT and attended school there prior to the family moving from Somers to Lincoln, then Livingston. He attended Park County High School, graduating in 1961 with his close friends and entered the Army with his buddies very soon after and served his country for 3 years. Upon discharge he moved to Deer Lodge where his parents and siblings were, and went to work at the Northern Timber Sawmill.
Dick fell in love with and married his wife Karla Johnson there in 1966. They moved to Missoula and he enrolled at U of M and worked nights at a Parking Garage downtown. They then moved back to Deer Lodge returning to work at the sawmill. He then enrolled at Western Montana College in Dillon, where the family resided, returning each summer to work at the mill. Part of his success in managing everything was having earned the G.I. Bill funding of $90 (a large amount in 1967!), being a wizard with finances, and working any job during the school year, including cleaning laundromats, and farm work. He always made sure all of the needs of his family were met, sometimes going without himself, but always ensuring there were savings for any emergency. He and Karla had 2 daughters during that era, Kristi Lee and Amy Jean. Upon graduating with a BS in Secondary Education with a math major, they returned to Deer Lodge where he once again, worked at the sawmill. He had done his student teaching at the Jr. High with the wonderful teachers, becoming good friends. Never having taught in the public schools thereafter, he used his education in many ways as he climbed the ladder with what became one of the Louisiana-Pacific Co. mills as Planer Superintendent, Mill Manager, then promoted as Division Operations Manager of 15 mills in 5 states. He was lucky enough to keep his family and office in Deer Lodge even though the head office was in the Coeur d’ Alene area. He had the most amazing work ethic and barely took a day off and few vacations. He received a special LP watch in 1993 commemorating 20 years with that company and worked until he took an early retirement one month short of his 54th birthday.
In 1980 we were blessed with custody of our nephew, Frank Gonzalez and he was instantly received with love as a son, and brother to Kristi and Amy. Dick made sure his kids were able to enjoy snow and water skiing bringing their friends along, and those are some of their best memories today. With his great sense of humor he teased the kids about many things, but their favorite was when he told them he had “the body of James Dean and the mind of Einstein”. Pictures of the 2 legends still grace the wall of his room even though the only sure thing was his brilliance & high IQ. He taught us all the difference between “want” and “need” even though he spoiled his children with pretty much everything they wanted!
Dick had a major stroke at 59 but his disabilities did not affect his being the caretaker of his family. Again, being the amazing ” Great Watash” as his kids called him, he made sure he lived the last 18 years large and in charge, with the same work ethic and love, exercising, reading, always kind to all that cared for him even in the worst of situations. He especially appreciated the great care given to him by the Veterans Adm. including the VA Home Health Care team. He got tired of “this damn stroke” but kept his sense of humor and his ability to give Karla, the kids and grandkids and other family members that great advice even if they didn’t need it! Education was important to him for any and all that pursued it and he assisted family as best he could with those financial burdens.
He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Frank and Fred, nephew Joey, niece Anna, the in-laws he loved so much, and his beautiful daughter Amy. He is survived by his wife and girlfriend, Karla, daughter Kristi, son Frankie, grandkids Lance and Carlo Gonzalez, Daley (Michael) Beck, of Helena, Danielle of Casper Wyoming, great granddaughter “Princess” Kennedi Beck, Helena.
The Psalm of Life poem from his Mother said in part “Let us, then, be up and doing, with a heart for any fate, still achieving, still pursuing, learn to labor and to wait”. On his office wall, was a sign that said “The Oxen Are Slow but the Earth is Patient”. These words are what he tried to teach his co-workers, friends and especially family to live by, as he did himself.
A Graveside Service is scheduled for 1:00 p.m., Saturday, April 3, 2021 at Hillcrest Cemetery in Deer Lodge, MT. A Celebration of Dick’s Life will be held in the Summer.