William Seth “Bill” Richey, 81, of Claremore, OK, was born July 5, 1941, in Anacortes, WA, to Homer Theo Richey and Frances Yvonne Lorraine (Sell) Richey. He passed away April 12, 2023, in Tulsa, OK.
Bill was raised on Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington. His graduating class of 1959 featured eight graduates. During his teen years, he talked his grandfather into funding a gill netter fishing boat, and he parlayed that into a great small business of bringing salmon to the local markets. He paid his grandfather off in the first few months. After graduating from high school, he bought a semi, then another, and ran a small trucking operation. At one point he got a bit bored, and he and a friend decided to tour the United States on their Harleys. While dining in a small-town diner, “and there was a big ole cop who said, ‘What you doin’ boys?’” They said they were just passing through and the cop said, “I think you are vagrants. you are going to jail.” They spent three months on a chain gang until Bill wired home to his dad to hit his bank account for the bribe money the cops wanted. They then continued their tour, but the appeal had waned. After he returned home, he decided to join the navy, and in 1961 he went through electronics school, was stationed on Whidbey Island NAS, the USS Constellation, Ranger and was on the Forestall when it blew up. His job during Vietnam was to take a crew into Vietnam any time one of our jets crashed and remove the top-secret equipment. While accompanied by a platoon of Marines, they still came under fire many times. He was discharged from the Navy in 1969, and decided to go to college, where he earned a degree in Real Estate and Business. However, with his extensive electronics training, he went to work for Dean’s Photo in San Diego, keeping their photo processors operational. He was sent to Rochester, NY to be trained by the Kodak Engineers on their equipment. When one hour photo stores started popping up everywhere he decided being self-employed was better and started Richey Photo Equipment. He traveled to Canada, Mexico, Sweden, and all over the U.S. designing and building photo labs. His shop was in an industrial park, and around the corner from a soon to be friend, Candy Baker’s marketing agency. At one point one of her black and white processors broke down, she walked around the corner and asked if he thought he could fix it. He came around and saw that he could fix it, and a long friendship began. In 1990 he closed his business and moved to Vancouver, Washington. His business suffered from the move, but he established a very devoted clientele. As digital photography started rising, photo labs started closing, and a new stream of revenue was necessary. In 1993 on a trip to San Diego he looked up his friend, Candy, and they found they had much more than friendship. After relocating to Washington, they started several publications together and enjoyed working, playing and married life. Every summer they hosted their two grandchildren for two to three months. It became a much-anticipated time in their life. Christopher, now a nuclear engineer with the U.S. Navy, and Elizabeth, now a pharmacist, brought them much laughter, and joy. In 2007 they sold their Washington publication and moved to Oklahoma. Bill asked, “Why Oklahoma?” Candy said, “Well, the people are polite, generous, giving and forgiving, loving and caring. Plus, we will get more than a three-week summer.” He experienced the kindness of Oklahomans so many times since the move, he felt it was the best move he had ever made. In Oklahoma Bill got involved with Claremore’s Joe Ronnie Hooper Memorial Veterans of Foreign Wars, serving ten years as Commander, and overseeing many improvements to the facilities. He has been respected by not only the Claremore community, but by the entire Oklahoma VFW community as he had many interactions with a wide variety of people. He retired as Commander last July when his health really started to go downhill. After a long battle with heart disease, lymphoma, diabetes, blindness and more, he finally lost the battle.
He is survived by his wife, Candy of the home; son, Martin Richey of WA; several grandchildren and great-grandchildren; his wife’s family who adored him, including Candy’s daughter. Gail Nelson and husband, David and their children, David and Daniel (twins), Chris, and Lizzie; son, James Baker and wife, Karla, and their daughter, Kamila; sister, Melody Brunsting and her husband, Cal; uncles, Richard Baker, Jerry Lamooney; aunts, Diane and Elaine Baker; the rest of this huge family he married into, (too many to list them all); and many other relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
Arrangements and services were entrusted to Johnson Funeral Home, Sperry.
Online condolences to the family can be made at johnsonsperry.com.