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RICHARD EDWIN, 83
Use sunscreen! That's the advice my Dad would pass on if he could. My Dad died April 5 from melanoma. He was 83.
Born in Cleveland on August 5, 1929 to Robert Ferguson Rainsberger and Julia Culbertson Rainsberger, Richard Edwin Rainsberger was raised in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and graduated from Western Michigan University. In high school he literally fell in love with the girl next door, Barbara Ann Mader, whom he described to his mother as "the most beautiful, funny, and charming woman I ever met." The two married in 1950 and remained so to this day. He always said, "She was the best thing that ever happened to me."
The couple, as couples did in those days, started having babies: Todd Jeffrey was born in 1951, Kirby Collin in 1954, Kevin Loring in 1955, and Faye Leslie in 1958. The children were all exceedingly smart and good-looking...at least that's what their parents thought.
Richard, who always introduced himself as Dick, worked for the Phelps Dodge Wire Company in Ft. Wayne. When the opportunity arose to move to Florida, the family relocated to Gainesville where he worked at Sperry Rand in the current Airport Industrial Park. He worked in what's now called Human Resources and loved organizing company activities from picnics, to softball leagues, to Christmas parties for the kids. He always played Santa Claus and was widely considered the best "Santa" ever to don a suit. He was certainly the most enthusiastic.
In 1968 Sperry was closing and the job market took Richard to Melbourne and an electronics company with the unfortunate name of Radiation, later changed to Harris Corp. The family stayed for 28 years but as soon as retirement age hit, Richard and Barbara moved back to their beloved Gainesville and The Gators.
As enthusiastic fans go, my Dad was near the top. He once blacked out from the stress of listening to Otis Boggs describe a close game at Auburn. Doctors called it "global amnesia." In his younger days he was loud enough watching the Gators on TV that neighbors in the next block knew there was a game on. He liked to think that Steve Spurrier and Tim Tebow were his adopted sons.
In his later years, my Dad became something of a curmudgeon, what I called "crusty but benign." It would be a shame if that's how people remembered him. Tom Brokaw called my Dad's generation "The Greatest Generation." It was a generation of self-sacrificing, God-fearing, patriotic men and women who served and worked and did what they could to support their families and their country. Dad was a scout leader, Sunday School teacher, food bank volunteer, environmentalist, a loyal husband and a great dad. There isn't a lot of glory in those things, but surely there is honor.
And so we honor the life of Richard Rainsberger. If they have television in heaven and there's a Gator game on, listen carefully, you might just hear him.
He is survived by his wife Barbara, his four children, grandchildren Mason Rainsberger, Melissa Rainsberger Beery, Katherine Rainsberger Earle, Evan, Jeffrey, and Alexander Fraser as well as great grandchildren Carson and Gresham Beery, and Menolly Ann Earl, and lastly, his loyal dog Bender.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to Alachua County Rescue Services Donation Fund, 3400 NE 53rd Avenue Gainesville, FL 32609.
Published in Gainesville Sun from Apr. 7 to Apr. 8, 2013