Cover photo for Richard Harrison Kirchhoff's Obituary
Richard Harrison Kirchhoff Profile Photo
1935 Richard 2019

Richard Harrison Kirchhoff

April 4, 1935 — December 12, 2019

Richard “Dick” Kirchhoff, a born salesman, Civil War aficionado, accomplished traveler, generous man, and wise mentor, died on December 12, 2019.

Dick was so many things. He was a man with a creative mind and a kind heart. He was the most patient of men. He was always grace under fire; a man with solutions in all situations. He believed that anything was possible. He was a jolly elf who loved to have fun and had a very keen sense of humor. He was a loving husband and father, loyal friend, farmer, talented storyteller, manufacturer, builder, excavator, skilled woodworker, junkman, landlord, International Harvester dealer, a gypsy who loved the open road, someone who loved vehicles including his motorcycle and sidecar, a voracious and curious student of history, and an expert on so many things, especially antique guns and swords. He was a builder of dreams. Dick was a great man. He was our hero.

Dick was born on April 4, 1935, to a very generous woman named Jane who possessed a sharp wit, and Martin, one of the kindest men on earth. They were absolutely thrilled that baby Dick was born after 13 years of marriage; he would be their only child. Dick lived the American dream. Being born in Saginaw, some of his earliest memories were wading along the shore of Saginaw Bay at his parents’ little weekend cottage.

He and his parents moved when his father was transferred to Detroit. As a young boy, he was fascinated with teepees, cowboy movies, collecting metal for the war effort, and the taste of a Saunder’s hot fudge cream puff. He loved going to the army surplus store, playing army with his pals, and digging fox holes in the dirt.

His father encouraged him to sell rhubarb door to door using a wagon during war rationing, when he was seven years old; that’s where he began to hone his salesmanship skills. As a 13 year-old boy at the height of the cowboy era, he was gifted an 1876 single-action Colt Peacemaker gun, cowboy boots, a holster, and a cowboy hat by his generous uncle. He loved his cowboy boots so much that he slept with them on. His pals were drooling and speechless about the gun; they asked, “Can I just hold it?” Every- time Dick saw the movie, “Christmas Story”, he’d say with a twinkle in his eye, “ That’s my sweet childhood in a nutshell.”

When Dick was 14, he and his family moved to Plymouth. His father not only had the foresight to build a house on Territorial Road, but he taught his son how to build a house; they built it together. A family farm near Chelsea was where they spent their weekends. While there, Dick picked bucketfuls of mushrooms and black raspberries (his all-time favorite fruit), planted Christmas trees, helped to tend a Belle Isle donkey for the winter (it was a mean donkey), and took pleasure in the company of extended family. At an early age, Dick begged his dad to build a playhouse. Since his father worked for Michigan Bell, he was able to get some old telephone poles and together, they built a little log cabin behind the farmhouse. “Dickie Duck” was ecstatic (his maternal grandmother called him that, and it wasn’t his favorite nickname).
Dick had an idealic childhood; kids today would benefit from less screen time and more digging in the dirt. Farm life encouraged him to have side hustles; he was the king of the side hustle. In Plymouth, his dad encouraged him to help a friend cut down an old apple orchard; the friend said that he could keep the firewood to sell, which smelled sweet when it burned. That started a number of side hustles for Dick during high school. He planted sweet corn, cantaloupe, and watermelon on the site of the old apple orchard and then sold the produce out of the back of his Model T truck. He also planted and harvested a great amount of crops in the area and even employed his friends. Dick was ambitious, persistent, and wanted to make a wage. He attended Eastern Michigan University for two years, but his dreams were bigger than that. At 18, he became an International Harvester implement dealer. At one time, he had seven different businesses going. From there, Dick sold everything from new cars to Christmas tree stands, muscle car parts to closet doors, and of course, antique swords and firearms. He was also a rooming house landlord. In Plymouth, he built his own home, his daughter’s home, his granddaughter’s playhouse, and many rental buildings, as well.

In 1958, his life took a new path. He drove his 1957 red Impala Chevrolet convertible to Western Michigan University so he could go on a blind date with Rainy Richards. The rest was history. On their first date, he told her that she was the kind of girl he wanted to take home to meet his mother. Since Dick was a compulsive list maker, he made a secret checklist for Rainy (she didn't know about this until much later); he wanted to make sure that she passed all of the tests for being a good partner, like getting along with his mother and helping her in the kitchen. She passed with flying colors and became the love of his life. They both were passionate about antiques, travel, and later, became devoted anglophiles. They were married on July 21, 1962. Four years later, they brought baby Krista home and adored her. They had a wonderful family life. In 1991, Dick retired, but he really didn’t retire because selling Civil War guns and memorabilia and the rooming house business were almost a full-time job. One of his best friends and his daily lunch buddy was his son-in-law, Mike. As a family, they loved traveling many places with Krista, Mike, and Charlotte. In retirement, Dick and Rainy also loved traveling yearly to England and France. Often, Rainy would say, “I married adventure.” Dick’s only granddaughter Charlotte was the apple of his eye.

It was always his habit to say “I love you“ at the end of every phone call, or when saying goodbye to loved ones. Dick was at peace with his cancer at the end. He kept saying, “ I’ve had a hell of a run in life.” Throughout his health challenge, he seemed more concerned with making everybody else feel at ease. He really only struggled for 12 hours before he passed away; this was such a blessing, as his family didn’t want him to suffer in any way.

Dick is survived by his wife of 57 years, Rainy, daughter Krista Jewett (Mike), and granddaughter Charlotte.

A Funeral Service will take place Friday 11AM at the Schrader-Howell Funeral Home, 280 S. Main St., Plymouth. Friends may visit Thursday 4-8 PM and Friday beginning at 10AM. Memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society or the Plymouth Historical Society. To leave a condolence or memory visit www.schrader-howell.com


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Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Thursday, December 19, 2019

4:00 - 8:00 pm (Eastern time)

Schrader-Howell Funeral Home

280 S. Main St, Plymouth, MI 48170

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Funeral Service

Friday, December 20, 2019

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Schrader-Howell Funeral Home

280 S. Main St, Plymouth, MI 48170

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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