Richard Lee Buchwalter, age 96, of Canal Winchester, OH passed away February 6, 2018. He was born May 11, 1921 in Riverside, IA to the late Lee and Elma Buchwalter.
In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his brother, Jerry Buchwalter. Survivors include his wife of 70 years, Marie Buchwalter; son, Jim (Betty) Buchwalter; daughter, Michelle (Keith) Rushlow; grandchildren, Nicholas Rushlow, Justin Buchwalter, Christine Buchwalter and Lauren Buchwalter; and sister, Lois Lesher.
Richard was born on the Buchwalter family farm near Riverside, Iowa, where he spent the first 5 years of his life. Upon selling the family farm they moved to Wellman, IA, where his grandmother and grandfather McClelland lived. Over the next several years the family moved back and forth between Riverside and Wellman, eventually moving to a new family farm outside of Little Falls, MN. After a year, due to his father’s failing health the farm was leased and the family returned to Riverside, IA, where they moved into Grandma Buchwalter’s house until his father’s health improved. Richard’s family stayed in Riverside for the remainder of his elementary and high school education. As an Iowa “farm boy”, Richard loved the outdoors and spent many hours hunting, fishing and camping with his older brother and father.
Richard’s high school years were filled with sports and studies. He excelled in math and history, was an accomplished baseball and basketball player, served as president of his senior class and graduated as valedictorian in 1938. After graduation he worked at the local town filling station while completing a correspondence business course in typing and bookkeeping. He took a job as a bookkeeper at the newspaper office in Wellman, IA, living with his grandparents, the McClellands, during the week and commuting back to Riverside on weekends with the regional mail carrier. In addition to his responsibilities as a bookkeeper, Richard also gained experience in proofreading and rewriting news stories from local reporters.
In 1941, after two years of working at the newspaper office, Richard began working on his degree in civil engineering at the State University of Iowa in Iowa City. After his freshman year, he enlisted in the Army Reserves which allowed him to complete his education before entering the service. In the summer of 1943, Richard, along with other ROTC engineering students, was called to active duty and sent to Ft. Leonard Wood, MO, for basic training. At its completion, Richard was sent back to the University of Iowa to continue his studies in mechanical engineering, and was made a member of the Tau Beta Pi honorary engineering fraternity. In March, 1944, he was called to active duty and ordered to report to Fort Belvoir, VA, for additional training. On May 9, 1944, Richard was then assigned to the 2765th Photomapping Company at Ft. Belvoir, where he received specialized technical training for field engineers.
In February, 1945, Richard and his company of engineers were shipped overseas to La Havre, France, and then moved to Paris to train with another mapping company that had been stationed in London and prepared maps for the D-Day invasion of Normandy. After receiving specialized training in classified map production methods, his company was to be transferred to support the war in the Pacific theater. His assignments in Paris included providing detailed maps to support General Patton’s tank forces in their efforts to take control of Bavaria. With VE and VJ days marking the end of the war, Richard’s unit was never transferred to the Pacific theater. He remained stationed in Paris throughout 1945 until the beginning of 1946, and it was at a USO sponsored dance at his company’s workplace in Paris that he met his future bride and wife of 70 years, Marie. Richard returned to the U.S. in April, 1946, and was formally discharged at Camp McCoy, WI, before heading home to Iowa City.
In the Fall of 1946, Richard enrolled at the University of Iowa under the GI bill and started coursework to complete his college studies. In June, 1947, Richard graduated with honors and received his B.S. degree in Civil Engineering. Richard also completed the legal and financial arrangements for Marie to emigrate to the U.S., and they were married on July 12, 1947, in Iowa City, IA. They lived with Richard’s mother and brother in Iowa City for the next two years while Richard continued his education, and in August, 1948, he received his M.S. degree in structural engineering. After graduation, Richard accepted a position as an instructor at the University of Iowa where he taught courses in structural engineering and surveying. He held this position until July, 1949, at which time he accepted a position with the Ohio Highway Department, and he and Marie moved to Cambridge, OH.
Richard worked with the Ohio highway department until January, 1957, when he accepted a position as a Research Engineer at Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, OH. He resigned from Battelle in 1959 to accept a position as Structural Programmer in the Computer Lab of the Highway Department in Columbus. Richard was promoted to Head of the Computer Laboratory in 1961, and continued in the position until 1970 when he accepted a temporary assignment to work on a highway needs study. When the highway department became the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), Richard became Head of the Office of Special Studies, and eventually Assistant Deputy Director of Planning Administration. Richard and Marie both retired from their respective careers in 1998.
In retirement, Richard maintained a very active life with many interests. He and Marie were frequent travelers, spending every springtime time visiting with Marie’s family for weeks in and around Paris. Richard also located the home town of his mother’s relatives (McClelland) in Ireland, and made a number of visits there every fall to visit with relatives and enjoy the beautiful scenery of rural Ireland. They also traveled to the Far East and Southeast Asia, and of course made frequent trips to Houston and Ft. Collins to visit their children, Jimmy and Michelle, and their families.
When Richard wasn’t traveling, he was always putting his engineering skills to work on some home improvement or remodeling project, or maintaining his 1969 Buick Electra in running condition. His other pursuits included reading, working crossword puzzles, and watching sports on TV. Although he lived in Columbus with both of his children attending The Ohio State University, Richard remained first and foremost a passionate fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes, remaining true to his roots as an Iowa “farm boy”.
Family and friends may visit 3-5:00pm on Saturday, February 10, at the DWAYNE R. SPENCE FUNERAL HOME, 550 Hill Rd. N. Pickerington, OH 43147. Burial will take place at 12:00pm on Monday, February 12, at Violet Cemetery, Pickerington, OH.