Richard Duane Kriens, age 86, passed away peacefully Thursday morning, June 13, 2019 at Brethren Care Village following a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
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Richard was born October 16, 1932 in rural Belmond, Iowa. Born to German immigrants, he was the first in his family to earn a college degree and was always a champion of the value of education. Richard graduated from Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa) in December of 1956 with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. He earned a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Iowa State College (now Iowa State University) in November of 1963, a few days after the assassination of JFK.
Prior to receiving his BA, Richard took a break in his education when he enlisted in the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, serving from August 1953 to June 1955. He narrowly missed service in the Korean War; the armistice was signed just before he started basic training. He spent most of his nearly two year tour of duty in Europe as a refrigeration repair specialist. He earned a National Defense Service Medal during his enlistment.
Soon after earning his BA, Richard started his professional career by teaching junior and senior high school science and math courses at Ruthven Consolidated School in Ruthven, Iowa. After teaching there from 1957 to 1958, Richard decided to pursue an advanced degree so that he could teach at the college level. While he was completing his Ph.D., Richard started work as an assistant professor of chemistry at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa where he taught from 1963 to 1965.
Richard moved to Ashland, Ohio in 1965 to teach organic chemistry at Ashland College (now Ashland University). Although his classes were thought by his students to be challenging, he was fondly remembered for his kindness and warm-heartedness as a teacher. After thirty-one years of teaching at Ashland University (AU), Richard retired in 1996, earning the title of Emeritus Professor of Chemistry. Following his retirement from AU, Richard was contacted by Hess and Clark for a part-time position at the quality control lab, where he worked for 10 years.
Richard married Linda (Hazel) Kriens on March 30, 1967. They met at Ashland College, where Richard was a professor of chemistry in the Science Department and Linda was the secretary to the Director of Public Relations. Before Richard had started his job there, Linda was given his photograph and a bio to type up for PR purposes. Seeing his photo, her co-worker asked, “Who’s this, your new boyfriend?” Linda jokingly replied, “Not yet!” Some months later they met and Richard asked her out. Linda’s prediction ended up coming true! They raised three children; John, Heidi, and Rebecca; and recently celebrated their 52nd anniversary.
When his daughters were young, Richard was involved with them in the YMCA Indian Princesses, a group to encourage father-daughter bonding through monthly meetings, special camping trips, and events. For the group’s annual pinewood derby, Richard helped his daughters design, build and decorate their own pinewood race cars, even winning with his youngest daughter as grand champion in 1983!
As a hobby, Richard had a small paper route for the Cleveland Plain Dealer throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s. He liked the exercise and fresh morning air, riding his bike in the wee small hours of the morning to deliver the newspapers. It became a family affair; whenever one of his school-aged kids needed money for a special event, Richard graciously stepped aside and let them take over to earn the money needed.
Richard enjoyed making his mother’s recipe for Specken Dicken, a German pancake with raisins, sausage slices, and side pork, brought from the East Friesland area of Germany when his grandparents immigrated to the U.S.A. in the early 1900’s. Traditionally eaten by his family on New Year’s eve, he took joy in sharing this treat and recipe with students, friends, and family alike for any special occasion.
Throughout his teaching career in Ashland, Richard was an active member in the Wooster Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS), serving as section chairman and secretary. Richard was active in the First United Methodist Church as well, volunteering at their Hunger Center for many years. An avid gardener, he enjoyed being outside working in the yard, harvesting abundant fruits and vegetables in years past. Also an amateur do-it-yourselfer, Richard took to heart the expression, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” completing many home renovation projects over the years.
He and Linda fostered a love of travel that began as newlyweds with a trip to Europe, driving across the continent in a VW camper van. Their travel bug continued throughout their lives–visiting many parts of the country with their children on extended family summer vacations and continuing into their golden years. Their trips included frequent stops to catch up with his siblings in Iowa, Virginia, and Wisconsin, and culminated in several return trips to Europe after retirement. Whether socializing and playing cards with his extended Iowa relatives or with his local bridge group, Richard was a quiet but companionable man, who will be missed.
Richard is survived by his devoted wife Linda of Ashland, Ohio; children John Kriens of New York, New York; Heidi (Alan) Myers of New Philadelphia, Ohio; and Rebecca Kriens of Brecksville, Ohio; grandsons Eric Myers and Justin Myers of New Philadelphia, Ohio and Chase Kriens of Montclair, New Jersey; sisters Wilhelmine Vestweber and Joan Clark of Belmond, Iowa; sister-in-law Florence Kriens of Clear Lake, Iowa; and numerous nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents John and Minnie (Meints) Kriens; parents-in-law Edward and Vanita (Buchwalter) Hazel; siblings Kenneth Kriens, Dorothy Quint, and Phyllis Baumgardner; brothers-in-law Otto Vestweber, John Quint, Jim Baumgardner and Airell Clark.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, July 6, 2019 at 12:00 PM at Denbow-Gasche Funeral Home, 313 Center Street in Ashland, Ohio. Friends may call two hours prior to the service, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at the funeral home. Interment at Dalton Cemetery in Dalton, Ohio will follow the services.
Memorials may be made in Richard D. Kriens’ name to the Alzheimer’s Association. Words of comfort may be expressed to the family at www.denbowfh.com.