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Richard James Townsend


Richard James Townsend

June 20, 1933 - October 22, 2011

Richard James Townsend, 78, passed away on October 22, 2011, at his home in Medford, Ore., after a long battle with prostate cancer. Born June 20, 1933, in a hospital on Riverside Drive in New York City, N.Y., to James William Townsend and Henrietta Mannheimer Townsend. He grew up in New York City, New Rochelle, N.Y., Denver, Colo., and Monterey Park and Davis, Calif.

Born and raised Roman Catholic, Richard was an altar boy at Mass wherever the family lived. In his second year of high school, he entered junior seminary at St. Joseph's College, Mountain View, Calif. After four years there, he enlisted in the Army with a guarenteed place in the Nike Antiaircraft Missile Electronics Guidance System. That was the beginning of his space, defense logistics and electronics career.

After his service in the Army during the Korean War, he finished his education at the University of California, Davis. He first worked for Northrop Aircraft, followed by North American Aviation's Rocketdyne Propulsion Field Lab and Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. (where he worked on the Polaris Fleet Ballistic Missile), all in California. Next came Philco, where he was field engineer at New Boston Satellite Tracking Station in New Hampshire. Subsequent assignements were at NASA's Langley Reasearch Center in Va.; Grffiss AFB, N.Y.; Tinker AFB, Okla.; Hanscom AFB, Mass.; Wiesbaden, Germany (working on the Overseas Autovon System); and finally McClellan AFB, Calif., where he was program manager on various space and ground communications-electronics systems, including BMEWS (Ballistic Missile Early Warning System) and GPS (Navstar Global Positioning System). After retiring from Civil Service in 1987, he represented Tadiran, an Israeli firm contracting with the Air Force at McClellan.

He married his first wife, Joyce, while he was still in the Army. They had six sons. On Valentine's Day 1982, he married his wife, Jan, in Carmichael, Calif. Together, Richard and Jan pursued a mutual love of travel in and out of the U.S., bed-and-breakfast inns, good food and, in Richard's case, the best wines. They started Townsend Associates, a writing and editing company doing business with the Air Force at McClellan as well as defense contractors in California. (Interpreting contract legalese was a particular specialty of his.) He was appointed, then elected to the Sacramento County Fire District board of directors, later becoming board president. He enjoyed kayaking and photographing wildlife at Lake of the Pines, Nevada County, Calif., where he and Jan lived before moving to Medford, Ore., in 2005.

Always a music lover, Richard studied violin under the renowned violinist, Mariam McArdle. In later years, he played his beloved acoustic guitars. He loved his cats, Mac computers, walking the Calif., and Ore., beaches, watching the dolphins at Pismo, delivering Meals on Wheels, eating Copper River salmon, making gimlets, reading, his spiritual reading group, and he always rooted for a win by his Boston Red Sox. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus.

He is survived by his loving wife, Jan; sons, Matthew (Joanne), Patrick and Frank; stepson, Mike; grandsons, Sean and Terry; graddaughter, Kim; sister, Mary Townsend; and his little princess black cat, Sammi. He was preceded in death by his parents; his eldest son, James, who passed away in 2010; and two infant sons, Christopher and Michael.

A funeral Mass will be held at 8:30 a.m., Thursday, October 27, 2011, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 10th and Oakdale, Medford, Ore., with the Rev. Kelly Vandehey officiating. (A Rosary in his honor will be held at 8 a.m., preceding the Mass.) A reception will follow the Mass in the church hall. A private inurnment will be held at Siskiyou Memorial Park in Medford.

Richard's family would like to thank his friends for their loyal support during his illness and for all of their prayers. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in his memory to St. Vincent dePaul, P.O. Box 1663, Medford, OR., 97501, or Southern Oregon Humane Society, 2910 Table Rock Road, Medford, OR., 97501.