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Richard Gordon Landis

1920 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Richard Gordon Landis Obituary

Richard Gordon Landis passed peacefully from this life at his home on February 14, 2016. He was 95 years old.

Richard Gordon Landis was born in Davenport, Oklahoma, to Venna Marie Perrin and John William Landis, on April 5, 1920. He was the second-born of five boys and one girl. He married Beth Throne, his college sweetheart from California's La Verne College, in 1943. Together they enjoyed many trips abroad, both for business and pleasure. They have three successful, married children, along with nine grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren. Dick and Beth are so proud of their wonderful family and enjoy talking to others about each of them. Dick has lived a full life, enjoying the bounty of his hard work and accomplishments, as well as relishing in giving back to others.

As a young man, Dick was very enthusiastic for his future and was dedicated to obtaining a university education. At the age of thirteen, he started delivering newspapers and then, at the age of fifteen, got a job picking prunes for California Packing Corporation (or Calpak, which carried the Del Monte label) in Yuba City, California. He was much younger than most employees, yet he took his job seriously in order to help finance his sought-after college degree.

After college, Dick flew P-38s and P-51s for the Army Air Corps in World War II before beginning his journey of both business and civic involvements. Richard was an executive with wide experience in Bay Area, national, and international affairs. He rose through a succession of production management positions at Del Monte Corporation that led to his election from vice-president, in 1966, on up through the ranks to president and CEO, in 1978. He was also a director and President-Pacific of RJR-Nabisco until 1983. He always said "I enjoyed what I was doing so much that some days I felt like I didn't have a job." Part of Dick's success as a manager and president was his belief that humor brings levity to serious situations. He wanted others to feel at ease and he felt that humor ensured that.

Beyond Del Monte and R.J. Reynolds, Dick was involved in various other corporations and organizations, such as Oregon Steel Mills, Potlatch Corporation, SRI International, Kaiser Hospitals and Foundation, and Crocker National Bank and Corporation, to name a few.

Dick was always looking for other ways to serve. He spent times on several councils and boards in service to his community and country. He was a trustee of the World Affairs Council and served as a regent of the University of the Pacific, as well as the chancellor and a trustee of his alma mater, the University of La Verne. He holds an honorary doctorate of laws degree, along with a distinguished service award from ULV. He was named the California Manufacturers Association's "Manufacturer of the Year" in 1981 and presented with the Boy Scouts of America's "Good Scout" and "Silver Beaver" awards. Dick was a vice-chairman and member of the executive board of the Boy Scouts' San Francisco-Bay Area Council, serving more than 50,000 young men in six Bay Area counties. He was also involved in the Kiwanis, Pacific Union, Bohemian, and Rotary Clubs throughout most of his lifetime, as well as the National 4-H Foundation and served as chairman of the Bay Area United Way campaign and Invest-in-America's Northern California council.

Dick authored several articles and two books pertaining to his own life and personal experiences, in hopes of inspiring not only his own children, but other youth throughout the area. His first book (Making a Difference, co-authored with Beth in 2002) was written as a personal history to share with his immediate family. He wanted them to know who he was and to learn about the lifestyle and activities that he and Beth had enjoyed together. Dick continues to find value in passing on the wisdom he gained from his own life experiences. In 2008, Dick penned a second book, Living for Tomorrow. It was written in hopes of imparting the concept to others, especially youth, that in life one should seek to make a difference in the lives of others.

One of Dick's favorite quotes comes from poet Edwin Markham:
"We are destined to be brothers,
No one goes his way alone.
What we give unto the lives of others,
Comes back into our own."

Dick's life has been filled with responsibilities, strains, and stresses, yet he has always had a song in his heart. He began singing in a college quartet and then continued to sing in weddings and light operettas. This love of music has carried him throughout his lifetime and it is never a surprise to hear him break out in song at any moment. He is very passionate and supportive in bringing musical culture into local communities, particularly through Music in the Mountains, and he encourages all to explore the musical arts.

Above all, Dick has tried to exemplify his guiding truth-making a difference-in his family, his community, his business associations, and the broader world. His wise counsel and philanthropic giving-especially those that have provided innumerable scholarships and advanced leadership-are always meant to empower others to maximize their personal potential so that they, too, can make a difference in their families and associations and, ultimately, make this world a better place for all of us and the generations to come.

Dick passed away on February 14, 2016, at his home in Penn Valley, California, at the age of 95. He leaves behind his wife of 72 years-Beth Throne Landis-and his wonderful family, including his sons, Gary Perrin Landis and Dennis Michael Landis, and daughter, Kay Landis Dillon. He is also survived by his brother, Bill M. Landis, 85 years of age. Dick felt blessed by God to have enjoyed such a loving and devoted family and he will certainly be missed by all.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 A.M. on Saturday, March 5 at Peace Lutheran Church (828 W. Main Street, Grass Valley, California 95945). Reception immediately following. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Hospice of the Foothills (11270 Rough & Ready Highway, Grass Valley, California 95945).
Published in Appeal Democrat on Feb. 21, 2016
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