Richard A. Stark
1924 - 2021
BORN
1924
DIED
2021
Richard A. Stark
Dec. 28, 1924 - Sept. 2, 2021
Richard "Rich" Andrew Stark was one of four children, born to Katherine (Schotthoever) Stark and Walter Stark. He was raised on a small farm south of Salem, Ore., with no electricity or indoor plumbing, and began his education in a one-room schoolhouse. He and his brothers liked to reminisce about the basic pleasures and daily hardships they knew as children: their first cars and family pets, the heavy load his mother carried making their farm a home without modern conveniences, and the beer she brewed in the basement for family and friends but never drank herself.
Rich exemplified the "greatest generation" of young Americans who served in World War II. As he was about to graduate from high school in Salem, the war broke out. Rich wanted to enlist right away, but he wasn't 18 years old. He would need parental permission. Rich's father Walter refused to give him permission, saying "you won't be cannon fodder for FDR on my watch." Rich waited until 1943 and joined the U.S. Navy. He underwent basic training at Farragut, Idaho and further trained for the hospital corps. He served as a pharmacists' mate, assigned to the Essex class carrier USS Bunker Hill CV 17. Battles involving the USS Bunker Hill were brutal ones, and Rich witnessed death and destruction while caring for the wounded and sick men in the medical quarters. On May 11, 1945, Rich was trapped below decks when the ship was damaged by two kamikazes. Crewmembers he was never able to thank, carried him, covered in soot and smoke choked, to the upper decks. The cruiser USS Wilkes-Barre sidled up to the carrier and helped fight fires and took wounded off, Rich was put in a mail sack and transferred by rope to the cruiser. Eventually Rich wound up at the hospital in Pearl Harbor where he recovered from his near-death experience.
Rich was awarded a purple heart for his service and wore his USS Bunker Hill cap with pride. After he left the Navy, Rich eventually settled on a job as a pressman, a position he held for nearly 35 years until he retired in favor of the activities he most enjoyed, fishing with his sons, gardening with his wife Cleo, camping and traveling. He loved the outdoors and the state of Oregon, and was still camping, going on outings to pick huckleberries, and hiking in his late 80's. With his son Rick, Rich visited the USS Hornet, WWII museums, and went to D.C., to visit the WWII memorial sites. When he was 94, together with Rick, Rich fulfilled his desire to make his second trip to D.C., this time as a guest of the Honor Flight project.
Predeceased by beloved wife Cleo in 2000; and eldest son, Gary (survived by Denise); sister, Connie; and brothers, Walt and Robert. Rich is survived by his sons, Terry and Rick (and daughter-in-law, Abby Landon). A good kind man. He will be missed.
Please sign the online guest book at www.oregonlive.com/obits
Published by The Oregonian from Sep. 17 to Sep. 19, 2021.
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Yes, I remember the day It was on the mourn That I saw a ship a sailing The sea was calm The winds were fair Rich was young And he was at the rail With shipmates once again.---rs
Roger B Sheetz, USN
September 25, 2021
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