Richard Earl Aungst, Dick to his friends, at 80 years old, died in the afternoon of April 18th, 2012 and is survived by his wife, Evelyn (Sally), brother Jack, and two sons, Noel and Dann. His grandchildren are Noel's son, Harrison (Harry) and Dann's daughter Cassandra and son David. Sally and Dick celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary the previous Saturday, April 14th, and he even remembered it on his own. He died quickly of a heart attack while with Sally in the front yard of her home, while on his nearly daily visit from the nursing home that was his residence.
Dick was born, at the family's farm home, in Sunfield, Michigan on January 13th, 1932 to Reva (Skinkle) and Don Aungst. He already had a brother, Jack, and would have another brother, Danny, in a couple of years. At last check the home still stands on Sunfield Rd. about a mile from the small town's "downtown". The family worked the farm part time until Don's death in 1959. The 80ac farm (40 tillable) was then leased to neighboring farmers until it was sold in the early '70's and became, in part, a horse ranch. The town's cemetery is adjacent to the property as it was donated by Don to the town for this purpose. Dick liked to quote Don in saying, "Just bury me outside the cemetery fence, someday they'll expand it to include me". This didn't happen as he, and Reva, are buried in the cemetery proper, not far from Don's parents, Daniel and Minnie Aungst. Good story . . .
Dick graduated from Sunfield High School, in a class of nineteen. He excelled at basketball and talked of those days fondly. Dick served in the United States Marine Corp during the Koran War but until just a few years before his death chose to talk very little of it. We know he played trumpet as part of the Marine Band and delivered mail as part of his duties. Also, it seems, he had frostbite of his feet in Korea, and suffered from problem associated with this for the remainder of his days.
Sally and Dick met in San Diego, California while Dick was stationed at Camp Pendleton at a serviceman's "mixer". They connected, apparently, because of their shared Michigan roots, having grown-up (but never meeting) less than 50 miles apart. They were married in California and moved to Michigan to find work and start a family after Dick, honorably discharged, left the Marines. Dick always claimed that he was drafted (despite the Marine's claim they do not draft). He says that the recruits where lined up, someone pointed to every other one and said, "Army, Navy, Army, Navy" and so forth until they got to the final dozen or so and said, "And the rest of you volunteered for the Marines". Good story . . .
Not long after returning to Michigan, Sally and Dick settled in Flint and Dick began work for Turnstead, a division of General Motors, located in the Beecher district outside of Flint. He labored on the assembly line at various positions, including assembling window crank mechanisms for Chevys and Buicks. Initially they lived in an upstairs apartment near downtown Flint and, while there, had their first son. In 1954 they had a house built, on a double lot, in Otisville, about 20 miles northeast of Flint. This home on Athletic St., named for the athletic fields across the street , is still standing, though the school (built in 1920)next to the athletic fields is not. In the late 60's he took up part time work to garner hours as a welder to qualify for a Journeyman's position at A/C Spark Plug, another GM division, on Dort Hwy., in Flint. This increased income and diligence in paying off the Athletic St. home quickly, resulted in upgrading to a house on one acre on Crawford Rd. a few mile outside of Otisville. He retired from General Motors in 1984 with thirty years of service.
Life on Athletic St. was simple and classic. Through the 60's Dick was Otisville's Red Feather director (a charitable organization in small communities that organized activities for kids) and was, himself, a youth baseball coach many summers. The Athletic St. home was constantly being improved by Dick as he became an accomplished handyman and auto mechanic. The double lot allowed for a large garden that always boasted the finest sweet corn, and other vegetables, in the area. About 8 years into the Athletic St. occupation the second son was born. Dick converted the garage into a third bedroom, billiards room and darkroom for Noel.
In 1972 the family moved outside of Otisville into a much larger house on Crawford Rd. Purchased price for this one acre, two car garage, two and half bath, with dining room and family room was a whopping $32,500. This may have been out of reach if it hadn't been for Dick and Sally's meticulous care and studious payoff of the Athletic St. home. Crawford Rd. home had a full but unfinished basement that Dick finished for the growing boys use including, again, a pool table. It was here, in 1972 another son was added; Ron, an exchange student from the Netherlands that has stayed in Dick and Sally's lives. One of the clear hallmarks of this home was a half burned bush, near the front door, caused by a Roman Candle firework going awry while Dick and Noel and friends fired at each other with these flaming balls. Good times . . .
Dick retired from GM, as a welding instructor, in 1983 and soon moved to Sunsites, AZ, across the street from Sally's aging parents. Dick soon became the fixit man for this small community and he was thrilled to do it. He was now busier, perhaps, than before he retired. After Sally's parents died, Dick and Sally moved into their house, and, again worked hard to upgrade it. New Mexican tile floors and a large addition for an office for Sally's growing accounting business were just two of the projects.
Grandchildren came into Dick's life about this time and he learned about a new kind of love. He was always a great provider and attended to wife's and children's needs. He now had the time and means to enjoy his grandchildren and he did and they he. Both sons' soon moved to Colorado, though somewhat apart, so Dick and Sally devised a way to spend about half of the year in Colorado and half in Arizona. First in various apartments, then in nice trailers or fifth-wheels permanently set-up in a beautiful RV park, complete with swimming pool for the grandkids, just outside of Loveland, CO. Life was good.
Dick and Sally moved permanently to Loveland in 2001 and Dick soon was moved to a nursing home there with a diagnosis of "frontal lobe dementia". This affected him in long cycles and became very frustrating for him when his health was on the upswing. In 2005 they moved to an Arvada home that included a residence, though separate, that was under one roof. Here, in 2006, he was, for a few days, placed in hospice. He made an astounding recovery and the cycles evened out. Sally was able to bring him to her home during the day most days which was a great help to them both. In January of 2012, do to his declining abilities, he was moved to a facility in Fort Collins. His memory was never at question, though he developed insulin controlled diabetes and more easily tired as the months passed. His heart attack came without warning and he was gone as quickly as setting in a chair.
Dick enjoyed, at different times in is life: fishing with buddies, playing his trumpet, playing Euchre and Blackjack without betting, watching boxing and car racing on TV, vintage cars and car shows, eating Shredded Wheat, drinking Coors Lite and Old Crow, building and flying RC planes, building most anything, telling jokes, listening and dancing to early big bands, especially Doris Day and, of course, many other activities.
Please note that this short biography is largely from the memory and perspective of Noel. Your anecdotes are encouraged to be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and will be included here.
Ilsa Roe - When I think of your dad (Dick) I remember the day Jeff was playing with Danny in the sandbox when he passed out . He had a seizure and your dad picked him up and brought him home. Will always be grateful.
Jeff Roe - I remember once when I was just a little kid, I was walking over to your house to see Dan and your Dad (Dick) was mowing the lawn on the edge of the sidewalk. I asked him what he was doing. He stopped and said, "What does it look like I'm doing-I'm flying an airplane!" I never forgot that as long as I lived! Come to think of it, your dad did like to build and fly RC planes. I used to drool over the one's hanging in his basement workshop when I was a kid.
Noel - Dad seldom wore his Marine Corp ring. One day while working at AC a giganic lid to a freezer, used for making magnets, fell with Dick's hand under it. He was wearing the heavy ring that day and it was destroyed BUT only minor scraps to his fingers resulted. The one pictured above is a replacement that he wore nearly daily.
John Minium - I have many good memories of Dick from my late teens and twenties. Dick and Sally provided a type of normalcy and responsibility during that age of my life. Dick gave to me a sense that I could work with my hands as well as with my mind. I enjoyed listening to his stories of shop life in Flint and got to see his shop abode, which impressed me because of Dick's acquisition of a barbershop chair for relaxing between between welding jobs in the factory. While I was living in a house needing constant attention, Dick came along and shimmed doors, fixed walls, and did other sundry jobs without asking for any compensation. And how did I repay him for all the good things that he brought into my life...hmm-m, well there was that burned tree at the Crawford Road house as Noel and I went through our Roman Candle fights phase...and...
Jack Aungst - One of the most exciting times in Dick's childhood was whe he set the Farm House in Michigan on fire. It was Thanksgiving Day and there were a dozen or so relatives at our house for dinner. There didn't happen to be any kids Dick's age (6 yrs)to play with so he asked our father, Don, if there was anything he could do. He was told that he could pile up the shocks of corn in the field just North of the House for burning so that it could be plowed for crops in the spring. He proceeded to lean the shocks up against the North wall of the house and when finished set them afire. When the flames became visible through the window on the North side of the house a panic ensued. Some people went out to pull the shocks away from the house, some began moving the furniture out to the yard in front of the house, and some started a bucket brigade from the well to the house to douse the fire with water. I was sent to the heighbors to call the fire department in Sunfield and when I returned I joined the bucket brigade. By the time the Fire Fighters arrived the fire was put out, but they started using their fire axes on the side of the house looking for embers. Our father was enraged and told them they were doing more damage than the fire.
Jack Aungst - As a young boy, Dick had amazing eye-hand coordination. He could sight along the barrel of a rifle and pick off crows with one shot. I saw him once hit a flying squirrel while shooting over his head. I was waiting for him one day to give me a ride with the tractor when he stopped short, leapt off the tractor, grabbed a hand axe from the tool box on the tractor, threw it at a squirrel and nailed it to a tree it was climbing.
Note to researchers: Dick wanted to be remembered; to be part of someone's heritage. Since his body was gifted to science, there is no headstone or other marker anywhere. This is an attempt at preserving his memory for many generations to come. As of 2012 it is the most likely, preservable source of information commonly available. Here is a link to his COD. Also, a "Good Story . . ." link may give additional historical information.