|Donald R. Richman Sr., an ageless man who adored animals, died Sept. 1 of renal failure at Lower Bucks Hospital, Bristol Township.
Mr. Richman was born in Bristol Borough and lived in Bensalem for the past 45 years. He was a graduate of Bensalem High School and a Navy veteran of World War II.
"He was a radar operator on the Reeves in the Pacific corridor," said his daughter, Diane G. Lyons of Yardley. "He was one of the first people in Hiroshima after the bombing in 1945. He volunteered to drive a Jeep."
Mr. Richman and his son, Donald Jr., ran Richman Motors, a repair shop in Croydon. He also enjoyed stock car racing and raced at the old Langhorne Speedway for about seven years.
"He built his own cars and stopped racing in 1952, when I was 4. My mom decided it was not a good idea," Lyons said. "He was doing very well, too. He never got hurt, either. He was like the Teflon man."
Mr. Richman was a member of the Neshaminy Methodist Church and a dedicated firefighter who joined America Hose Hook and Ladder Co. Station No. 53 at age 16. He was a life member.
"He got more actively involved in the fire company as we got older," his daughter said. "He was more involved with the fire police, becoming a lieutenant and, eventually, a captain. That probably was the proudest moment in his life."
He worked with police officers and always thought they had better things to do than direct traffic, Lyons related. "He would log more hours each month than anybody else."
Mr. Richman is survived by his wife of 54 years. Ann (nee Spicer), and their two children.
"He had a wonderful sense of humor," Lyons said. "He was such a character - always had a joke. There was never a time in his presence that you weren't smiling. That's the way he always touched people."
Lyons went to say: "I always tell Mom that although we lost Dad, we were really lucky to have someone like that in our home, because so many people never got to know someone like that."
Mr. Richman would read stories to his children every night, and was always there for them, according to Lyons.
"He also was a sucker for animals," she said. "We had so many. We started out with a couple of dogs, a couple of cats, and then someone came to the garage with Chinese geese; and then there were the sheep, the goat, the pony and the five horses."
The Richmans lived on almost 4 acres in Bensalem, so they had room for the menagerie.
"We were surrounded by farms at the time, and we rode horses all the time," Lyons continued. "Now, you couldn't do it."
Lyons is a schoolteacher and remembers the time at Christmas when one of her students said she wasn't going to have a tree for the holiday because her mom couldn't afford one.
"On Christmas Eve, I was telling my dad about the girl, and he said, 'I have to go out for a little bit,' and he went and got a tree and took it to the girl's house," she said. "He couldn't stand thinking that somebody couldn't have the things they needed to make them feel happy."
Mr. Richman's granddaughter, Erin Richman Sternberg of Newtown Township, remembered the day her grandfather gave her a ride on a tractor.
"We were pretty high up, and he said, 'Lay back on the hay and look up at the stars.' He taught me about the stars and took time to be with me, to talk to me, teach me and just listen to me. I guess I was about 10 when we went on the ride," she said.
Milt Krugman can be reached at 215-949-4206 or mkrugman@phillyBurbs.com.