Alden Calvin Richards, 91, formerly of East Middlebury
MILTON MILLS, N.H. — Alden Calvin Richards passed quietly away at home on Jan. 6, 2022, in his ninety-second year of life. A widower for 10 years, he was finally able to rejoin his beloved wife, Mary Jo.
Al (only his parents called him Alden) was born on the 4th of July, 1930, in St. Albans, Vt., to Herman and Annette Richards. Although he was an only child, both of his parents came from very large families that included his Aunt Alicia, who was seven months his junior and became, instead, his de-facto sister. Al had a very happy childhood with summers spent in a cottage on Lake Champlain surrounded by many cousins, aunts, and uncles. He became a great hunting, fishing, skiing and hiking enthusiast in those early years. In 1948 he graduated from Bellows Free Academy, where he had been a very popular student and lettered athlete. From there he enrolled at Champlain College in Plattsburgh, N.Y., majoring in Pre-Dentistry.
After two years of study, he decided he needed more practical experience, so he joined and served for four years in the United States Navy as a Dental Technician. Al had many adventures over those years and experienced many new countries, but the greatest adventure came in 1954 when he met his future wife, Mary Jo Thompson, one Maryland Sunday morning in church. It was love at first sight for Al and he set about winning her heart. He was fortunate in that he quickly impressed, and gained an ally, in his soon-to-be mother-in-law, Josephine. She was so impressed with his warmth, good humor and forthright manner that she told him early on that he was the only Yankee she ever liked (this was southern Maryland in the ’50s). Al left the Navy in 1954, married Mary Jo in 1955, and enrolled in the University of Maryland to gain a degree in the new field of Computer Science.
Over the next 23 years, Mary Jo and Al took a long, slow path back to the Green Mountain State, moving in turn from Maryland, to Connecticut, to Maine, back to Maryland, to New Brunswick, then Nova Scotia before settling in East Middlebury, Vt., in 1978. During this time, they had five children: Jo Annette, Carolyn, Teresa, Timothy, and Candace. Al was a warm and loving father to his children and gifted them all with many, many wonderful adventures and memories. Whether it was pulling them on a sled while out hunting for the perfect Christmas tree, teaching them how to ski, or the finer points of camping, he was always ready with a warm hug and a kiss to make better the hurts of the day. He finished out a highly successful career in the computer field and retired by age 60. He and Mary Jo filled their retirement years with visiting family and grandchildren (Aaron, Adam, Thomas, Emma, William, and Henry), playing golf, competing at bridge, volunteering, and just enjoying quiet walks with their dog.
In January of 2012, Al lost Mary Jo too soon to illness and was once again on his own. After a few years of solitude, he decided to move to Milton Mills, N.H., to live near his son and four of his grandchildren. He enjoyed those years, sharing family meals and playing cards with his son, daughter-in-law Linda, and granddaughter Emma. Al lived a very long and full life. Like many lives, it had its ups and downs, but Al persevered and always kept his family safe and surrounded with love. His end, when it came, was peaceful. He was sitting in his recliner watching the Western Channel when he journeyed on to reunite with Mary Jo. Does it get any better than that? ◊
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