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Richard R. Rangoon

RANGOON, Richard R. Richard Ralph Rangoon, 76, of West Simsbury died on Friday (July 24, 2009), after a prolonged illness complicated by the effects of post-polio syndrome. He leaves behind a loving family and many friends, and will be remembered by those touched by his honesty, sense of fairness, generous nature, and tenacity of spirit. He was an independent freethinker whose originality and can-do attitude earned the loyalty of even the most hardened of critics. Born on July 25, 1932, he grew up in Waterbury, the son of Danish immigrants Hans and Anna. He graduated from the University of Connecticut and the Andover Newton Theological Seminary and was ordained as a Congregational Minister in 1957. As a Minister in South Hempstead, New York, he led what became one of the first integrated churches on Long Island. During the 1960s, Mr. Rangoon was involved in the Civil Rights movement as a Freedom Rider, traveling to the Deep South to increase voter registration and marching for equal rights in Washington. In Cleveland OH., in partnership with the Urban League through the Ford Foundation, he worked to develop integrated housing and had the privilege of meeting Dr. Martin Luther King. In Hartford, as Associate Minister of the Horace Bushnell Church and working with the Christian Activities Council, he was a true community organizer who was deeply committed to improving the quality of life of those living in the newly rehabilitated Vine Street housing development. Then, through his work at Utility Development Corporation, he focused on training and empowering the unemployed while broadening housing options. His commitment to the development of low/moderate housing led Mr. Rangoon to expand his ministry by founding Housing Services Corporation in 1975, a Hartford-based real estate and housing entity that specialized in managing and rehabbing apartments. He also developed real estate and expanded briefly into construction as the business grew during the 1970s and early 1980s. He retired from the real estate business in 1993. Upon retirement, Mr. Rangoon continued his spiritual ministry by becoming a Certified Chaplain. After meeting his qualifications, he volunteered at the East Hartford Visiting Nurses Association as a Hospice Chaplain to help those dealing with Alzheimer's disease and end-of-life bereavement. Throughout his life, Mr. Rangoon worked to realize a personal mission that combined the tenets of his faith with the needs of everyday life. Mr. Rangoon is survived by his devoted wife of 51 years, Betty (Gardner), whom he met in Divinity school; and three children: Richard Reade Rangoon of West Simsbury, Katherine Rangoon Doyle, Ph.D., of Succasunna, NJ, and her husband Michael; and Cynthia Rangoon Grant of West Hartford. He also leaves two granddaughters: Megan Katherine Grant, of West Hartford, and Elizabeth Anne Doyle, of Succasunna NJ. He is predeceased by his half sisters Ellen Rangoon and Ruth Kaplan, and his half brother Harry Rangoon. Like his father, Mr. Rangoon was a Freemason and a member of the Scottish Rite. He was also a generous patron of fledgling artists and a benefactor to many charitable causes. A trumpet player in his youth, Mr. Rangoon had a fondness for Jazz and for Maynard Ferguson in particular. He shared a love of cars with his close friend Rod, and the two of them spent many happy hours on the open road together. His passion for Airedale Terriers was well known by the many employees of his company who shared their office with his dogs over the years. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the New England Airedale Rescue, 3 Carter Road, Cornwall Bridge, CT, 06754 (www.newenglandairedalerescue.org). A memorial service and celebration of his life will be held on Sunday, August 2, 2009 at 1 p.m. at the Elmwood Community Church, 26 Newington Road, West Hartford, CT. Sheehan-Hilborn-Breen Funeral Home, 1084 New Britain Ave., West Hartford is in charge of arrangements.


Published in The Hartford Courant from July 26 to July 27, 2009
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