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Richard O. Rydeen

Richard O. Rydeen

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Richard O. Rydeen

Richard O. Rydeen

Richard O. Rydeen, known by most as Dick, passed away peacefully on March 23, 2021 at St. Pete's Hospital in Helena, MT from complications of COVID. Dick was born June 10,1943 in Kalispell, MT and attended school there prior to the family moving from Somers to Lincoln, then Livingston. He attended Park County High School, graduating in 1961, then entered the Army with his buddies very soon after and served for 3 years. Upon discharge he moved to Deer Lodge where his parents and siblings were, and went to work at the Northern Timber s Sawmill.

Dick fell in love with and married his wife Karla Johnson there in 1966. They moved to Missoula and he enrolled at U of M and worked nights at a Parking Garage downtown. They then moved back to Deer Lodge returned to work at the mill. He then enrolled at Western Montana College in Dillon, where they resided, returning each summer to work at the mill. Part of his success in managing everything was having the G.I. Bill funding of a monthly $90 (big $ in 1967!), being a wizard with finances, and working any job during the school year, including cleaning laundromats, and farm work. He always made sure all of the needs of his family were met, while always ensuring there were savings for any emergency. He and Karla had 2 daughters during that era, Kristi Lee and Amy Jean. Upon graduating with a BS in Secondary Education with a math major, they returned to Deer Lodge where he once again worked at the sawmill. He had done his student teaching at the Jr. High with the wonderful teachers becoming good friends. Never having taught in the public schools thereafter, he used his education in many ways as he climbed the ladder with what became one of the Louisiana-Pacific Co. mills as Planer Superintendent, Mill Manager, then promoted as Division Operations Manager of 15 mills in 5 states. He was lucky enough to keep his family and office in Deer Lodge though the head office was Idaho. He had the most amazing work ethic and took few days off or few vacations. He received a special L-P watch in 1993 commemorating 20 years with that company and worked until taking an early retirement at 54.

In 1980 we were blessed with custody of our nephew, Frank Gonzalez and he was instantly received with love as a son, and brother to Kristi and Amy. Dick made sure his kids were able to enjoy snow and water skiing bringing their friends along, and those are some of their best memories still today. With his great sense of humor he teased the kids about many things, but their favorite was when he told them he had "the body of James Dean and the mind of Einstein". Thereafter, pictures of the 2 legends, still grace the wall of his room (they knew he was at least brilliant like Einstein). He taught us all the difference between "want" and "need" even though he spoiled his children with pretty much everything they wanted!

Dick had a major stroke at 59 but his disabilities did not affect his being the caretaker of his family. The "Great Watash" as his kids called him made sure he lived the last 18 years large and in charge, with the same work ethic and love, exercising, reading, always kind to all that cared for him even in the worst of situations. He especially appreciated the great care given to him by the VA, including the Home Health Care team. He grew tired of "this damn stroke" but kept his sense of humor and his ability to give Karla, the kids and grandkids and other family members that great advice even if they didn't need it!

He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Frank and Fred, nephew Joey, niece Anna, the in-laws he loved so much, and in 2008 his beautiful daughter Amy. He is survived by his wife, Karla, children Frankie and Kristi, grandkids Lance and Carlo Gonzalez, Daley (Michael) Beck, of Helena, Danielle of Casper Wyoming, great granddaughter "Princess" Kennedi Beck, Helena, & sisters Alice, Jenny & Carol.

The Psalm of Life poem from his Mother said, “Let us, then, be up and doing, with a heart for any fate, still achieving, still pursuing, learn to labor and wait". On his office wall, a sign "The Oxen Are Slow but the Earth is Patient". These words are what he tried to share with his co-workers, friends and especially family to live by, as he did himself.

A Graveside Service is scheduled for 1:00 p.m., Saturday, April 3, at Hillcrest Cemetery in Deer Lodge, MT. A celebration of Dick's life will be scheduled this summer. Please visit to offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Dick.

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