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CORVALLIS – Dr. Richard "Rick" Edward Race, 78, of Corvallis passed away Monday, November 13, 2023 at home with his family. Rick died following a short battle with metastatic pancreatic cancer concurrent with a seven-year duration of Alzheimer’s dementia. Fortunately for everyone, Rick retained his quick wit, great sense of humor, friendliness and ability to recognize family and friends until the end.
Rick was born on June 29, 1945 in Pueblo, Colorado, to Edward and Irma Race. His family moved to Denver shortly after. He was a child entrepreneur and particularly enjoyed picking asparagus and selling it door to door. His recollection of childhood included some “fun” and mischievous behavior with friends but also the simple innocence of comparing which friend’s parents were preparing the best meal for dinner and making sure to crash at that house for the evening. If favorite meals were being served at more than one house, they would always eat two dinners.
Rick graduated from Denver South High School in 1963, and later attended Colorado State University where he received a B.S. in 1968 and a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 1970. During his high school and early college years he worked for the Jay-Cal Fur Farm in Aurora, Colorado. From 1966-1969 he found summer employment working for the United States Public Health service in Poolesville and Rockville, Maryland. In 1970 he moved to Hamilton, Montana and began his 37 year-long career at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories first as a veterinary officer for the USPHS Commissioned Corps (military captain) and later as a research veterinarian. His scientific accomplishments were numerous and resulted in over 100 publications primarily on prion diseases such as scrapie in sheep and chronic wasting disease in deer. However, without a doubt, his best accomplishment at work was meeting and marrying the love of his life, Sally Jo Raths.
Rick and Sally were married in Roundup, Montana on November 20, 1971. For the next 52 years they would be best friends. They made their home on a small farm near Corvallis, Montana where they raised a daughter (Lynn), a son (Brent) and numerous cattle, registered sheep, poultry and many family pets. Rick and Sally were almost always together, taking care of the farm and critters, hiking every week all year-round, gardening in the summer, hunting in the fall, and being the best parents and grandparents possible.
For over three decades Rick was part of the annual “big hike” that included a week-long backpacking trip with many close friends and family. Rick covered hundreds of miles in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Rick was consistently at the rear of the pack, and a clever guy. Perhaps this was a strategy to ensure that all the snakes, predators, and spider webs were cleared from the trail before his arrival. Sally believed his slow walking was so that he could stop and pee as needed! Regardless, his position in the far back of the line turned out to be advantageous in his later years, as the “kids” would backtrack miles to retrieve his backpack and take it the rest of the way to make his day easier.
Later in life, the weekly hiking he enjoyed so much became coined as “elder abuse” by Rick himself. Sally couldn’t leave him home alone, and she knew the exercise was good for him. On breaks he would ask Sally for a drink. She would offer him water and Rick would always reply, “Is that all the better you can do?” Rick wanted beer! Perhaps as punishment to Sally, Rick would pick up rocks for his garden on their hikes. Sometimes he would pick up a rock or two, but more often it was an entire pocket full or more if he could convince friends or family to carry them for him or find a way to hide them in their backpacks. These rock collections have ended up in all sorts of odd locations in the Race family home and vehicles.
Rick’s kids and four grandchildren made him extremely proud, even though they caused him some stress at times. The grandkids enjoyed rides around the farm in the tractor bucket and stealing ice cream from Rick’s special freezer in the barn. Rick and Sally would attend every sporting event and game that they could. As his memory deteriorated his love for the grandkids and their sports remained. Every morning Rick would wake up and ask Sally what was on the kid’s sports agenda for the day. Every time he talked to his grandkids his first question was, “What sport are you playing now?”, followed by, “When is your next game?”
Rick enjoyed his weekly lunches with friends, twice weekly golf during the summer, catching fish through the ice in winter, and watching the stock ticker tape go by on the investment channel.
His daughter Lynn summarized him well this week, “He was loved by everyone who met him, and loved everyone… with the exception of his sheep and the occasional umpire or referee.”
Rick was preceded in death by his parents, Edward and Irma Race; and brother, Roger Race. Survivors include his wife Sally of Corvallis; daughter, Lynn Nead (Chuck) of Hamilton and son, Brent (Emily) of Corvallis; four grandchildren, Tanner, Taylor, Melanie and Kirsten; and his cat, Fireball, that was his support buddy through the dementia.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday, November 21, 2023 at 1 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church. A reception will follow in the Grace fellowship hall. As Rick will be only joining us in spirit, consider this your best opportunity to find yourself ahead of him in a line for free food and beverages!
The family suggests memorials be made to the charity of their choice or enjoy a meal and a beer with friends and family in memory of Rick. Condolences may be left for the family at www.dalyleachchapel.com.