by John Lafruit, LUT
Minister at Unity of Oak Park for fifty years.
Richard was born on a farm near Wyandot Ohio in 1924, did grade school in a one room school house, high school in Bucyrus, and was drafted out of Ohio State in Columbus. Richard did three years in the Pacific. His troop ship was torpedoed going over, and he was involved in many horrible results of war.
He was discharged in January of 1946 and finished his degree in fine arts and education while working as a waiter. He went to work in the fashion industry and became a high fashion designer with a shop on Oak Street a half block from the Drake. He sold the shop and went to Unity Village Missouri to train at Unity School of Christianity for the ministry becoming an Ordained Unity Minister. He served a short stint in Santa Monica, two plus years at the big temple in Detroit, two years in Lansing, and ended up in Oak Park in the summer of 1967.
Thirty five people, all older than himself, had bought the impractical fixer upper at a controversial time in the history of Oak Park. By 1972 the building was paid for, improved, and drew a regular attendance of between 400 and 500 hundred with a mailing list of 1800. Unity of Oak Park was a healing ministry using metaphysical Bible, Bible courses, and attracting mostly those who wanted to work on themselves to improve their understanding of life.
Richard took congregants on regular trips covering at least seventy countries with the intent of expanding consciousness in some who would never travel on their own. He is responsible for the existence of four other Unity Centers in the area. He did at least fifty liaison interventions all over the US for headquarters putting troubled centers back on course. He taught at Unity School, guest spoke for a many Centers, notably at Johnnie Colemon’s Center on the Southside with whom he was good friends and three times in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center for a crowd of over two thousand, once with Maya Angelou.
Do to health problems the last several years, Richard only came in on Fridays and Saturdays doing counseling, rarely seen, but bringing in revenue of between fifty and sixty thousand using truth principles to help the Center. On September 1, 2017 those in power and the Board decided to take the Center on a different direction and ordered him out. We close with a quote from Richard’s book, My Soul Remembers. “For some of us, the search goes on half-heartedly; for others, it is a serious business. We all have our moments.” We bless him on his continuing journey.
This obituary was provided by by John Lafruit, LUT, Richard's longtime companion and partner. Thank you, John, for caring for Richard in his final years with us.