Richard Chesley Oliver, 81, a devoted son, husband, father and grandfather, outstanding public servant, model educator, avid farmer and well liked friend, lost his battle with cancer and passed away peacefully at his home on Tuesday, May 12, 2020.
Richard was born on September 6, 1938 in Forestville, VA (now known as Great Falls) to Gertrude Chesley and George A. Oliver. He was raised on a dairy farm in a wonderful tight-knit community of family and friends and always expressed his gratitude at having been so lucky to live in a time and place that allowed him the freedom to roam, but the security of knowing everyone and them knowing you. After the death of his father, when Richard was 10 years old, his grandparents on both sides and his many aunts and uncles played a significant role in his life and were his greatest role models. Richard worked with his uncles as an electrician and plumber, joined the Great Falls Volunteer Fire Department, attended Fairfax High School and continued to work on the farm until it was sold in 1956 when he went off to college. He received a bachelor’s degree from Randolph Macon College as well as a Masters from the University of Virginia. He was very proud that his father and numerous uncles fought in World War II and emulated them by serving in the Army National Guard and Army Reserves from 1958-1964 and then for the U.S. Air Force in Middletown, PA. Richard spent 18 years in the role of educator in the Fairfax County School system and Vice Principal of Administration at George C. Marshall High School before taking early retirement in 1980 to fulfill his dream of dairy farming.
Richard, along with his first wife of 32 years, Marjorie Young, and their 3 children, Stephen, Andrew and Elizabeth moved to Orange County in 1977 and began construction of Five Oaks Farm. During his many years living in Orange, Richard was involved in the community by serving on the Orange County School Board, the Orange County Planning Commission, and the Orange County Board of Equalization. He was also a member of Rotary International and received the Paul Harris Fellow Award. In 1996, Richard joined the Rappahannock Electric Coop of VA, MD and DE Board of Directors and spent the next 20 years serving on various committees and as Chairman from 2009-2012. In 2017, Richard received Virginia, Maryland and Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives highest honor, The Electric Cooperative Leadership Award. When Richard was not doing his civic duty he was busy with his sons working and growing the farm, which was twice awarded the Clean Water Farm from the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Commission and the Grand Champion Conservation Award-York River Basin. Hard work never stopped Richard from getting up in the morning and he looked forward to spending each day outside doing something that brought him great joy and satisfaction.
In 1996 Richard married Susan Besley and for the next 22 years together they continued working on the farm, entertained grandchildren, travelled throughout the US and Europe, and cared for his mother until her death on May 12, 2015, exactly 5 years to the date of his own passing. Richard was a loyal fan of the Washington Nationals, a history buff, an avid reader and collector of relics from years past. A very humble man who was always able to put folks at ease and make them feel welcome, he was honored by the notion of being “adopted” by Sue’s family and pulled into their fold after her sudden passing in 2018. He was very proud of his family and acknowledged that he wouldn’t be where he was in life without their love and support. Richard was a hard man to keep down and battled his illness with strength and dignity, a constant positive attitude and as usual, a sense of humor. He touched many lives in his 81 years and will be sorely missed.
He was predeceased by his wife, Susan Besley Oliver of Orange, Va. and his mother, Gertrude C. Winston, Orange, VA, his father George A. Oliver, Great Falls, VA., step-father Perry Winston, Orange, VA. He is survived by his children and grandchildren: Stephen and Melanie Oliver of Savage, MT, Andrew and Kimberly Oliver of Orange, VA, Elizabeth Oliver Triglione of Charlottesville, VA., James Oliver, Erin Oliver Roedeske and Jim, Rachael Oliver, of Savage, MT; Olivia, Ginger and Wyatt Oliver and Emily Aylor, Orange, VA, Spencer, Brian and Lauren Triglione of West Newbury, MA great-grandson, Rhen Roedeske of Savage, MT, step-son, Brent and Liz Moore of Culpeper, VA, step-son Brad Moore of Ashburn, VA and step-daughter, Priscilla Downey of Centreville, VA., Michael Moore, Ellie Moore, and Amy Downey.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Gertrude Winston Memorial Scholarship by sending a check payable to: VMDAEC Education Scholarship Foundation, 4201 Dominion Blvd. Glen Allen, VA 23060 placing Richard Oliver or Gertrude Winston Memorial in the memo line.
A visitation will be held from 10:00 a.m to 12:00 noon on Saturday, May 23, 2020 at Johnson Funeral Home, Locust Grove.