May 26, 1948 - Aug. 18, 2013
Richard "Dickie" Mendez passed away on Aug. 18, 2013, after a short battle with lymphoma. He was surrounded by his family, including his wife of more than 40 years, Velia "Cha-Cha" Mendez, and his children Richie and Monica. He was 65.
Richard was born on May 26, 1948, in Oxnard, but spent his childhood and early adult life living in Saticoy. The eldest of three children, Richard was known by classmates and friends for his discipline when it came to rules, as well as for his leadership skills. He graduated from Buena High School in 1966 and took a job at Lucky Auto Supply in Oxnard, eventually working his way up to a position as assistant manager.
On Nov. 11, 1972, Richard married Santa Paula native, Velia "Cha-Cha" Gonzales, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. The couple settled in Cha-Cha's hometown where they welcomed two children, Richard "Richie" and Monica, to their family.
After Lucky Auto Supply closed, Richard enrolled in courses at Ventura Community College to complete his associate's degree in computer science. Ahead of the technological curve, and with a vast knowledge of computers, Richard secured a position as a computer card puncher at the Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, in June 1973. True to his dedicated character, Richard remained at the base for more than 34 years, retiring as an information technology specialist, having worked his way up from a GS-2 classification to that of a GS-12.
Richard had a zest for life. He enjoyed classic cars, Motown and "Oldie" tunes, road trips, dancing, and cruising down local streets. He took advantage of every opportunity to save, and was well known for his bargain shopping. Among his greatest thrills was volunteer work. Richard was involved in each of his children and grandchildren's activities as a coach and avid supporter. He was known for his skills on the barbecue, serving his famed tri-tip for nearly 40 years at St. Bonaventure High School's annual spring fiesta. Upon his retirement, Richard became involved as a volunteer with Santa Clara Valley Hospice, St. Sebastian School, and Westside Preschool, providing computer support to each.
Richard gladly took every travel opportunity that came with both his professional and personal life, whether it was to the East Coast (Maine) or farther west in Colorado, or to the penny slot machines in Vegas, or the shorelines of Lake Tahoe. His favorite destination, however, was Hawaii. Between the friendly residents who believed that he, too, was a local, and the casual "aloha spirit," Richard felt at home on the islands. And while wearing one his Hawaiian shirts (his most valued clothing next to his overalls), Richard fit in as if he had lived there for years. Richard's final trip to Hawaii was in 2012 when he took Cha-Cha, his kids, and grand kids on a trip celebrating his 40th wedding anniversary.
Those who met Richard never forgot him. Through his illness, and through the grief of his loss, stories of Richard's genuine and kind character have surfaced. Stories of valued friendship and good times. Stories of loyalty, and stories of a man dedicated - first and foremost - to his family. He held no greater role than that of a father and grandfather.
Richard is survived by his parents, Richard and Helen Mendez; wife Velia "Cha-Cha" Mendez; children Richie (Megan) Mendez and Monica (Anthony) Mendez Romero; sisters Rita Mercado and Peggy Larios; mother-in-law Helen Gonzales; brothers-in-law Robert Gonzales and Rick (Sharon) Gonzales; and grandchildren Samantha Rios Mendez, Mia Romero, Alexander Romero, and Andrew Romero.
A mass celebrating Richard's life will be held on Monday, Aug. 26, at 10:30 a.m., at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Ventura. A reception will follow at Biedermann Hall, located directly behind the church. The family asks that those in attendance wear Hawaiian shirts or bright colors as Richard requested that his service be a time of celebration rather than a time of mourning.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Richard's name may be made to Santa Clara Valley Hospice.
For map and directions to ceremony locations and to sign the family's online guestbook, share stories, and post pictures please visit our website: www.santapaulafuneralhome.com and click on Richard's name located below "Recent Obituaries".
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the family owned and operated Robert Rey Garcia Jr. Funeral Services, Santa Paula 805.229.7054