Obituary of Richard Hiestand
Richard Root Hiestand, 83, a former resident of Buffalo and North Tonawanda, died surrounded by his loved ones at his home in Lockport on June 9, 2018. A memorial will be held sometime this summer at the family cottage on Lake Ontario which always held a special place in Dick’s heart.
Dick was a descendant of early Western New York settlers Thomas and Martha Root, whose home served as a stop on the Underground Railway, and Dr. Myron Orton, a founder of the Niagara County Medical Society. Dick was born in Reading, Pennsylvania to Jacob and Alice Hiestand on April 26, 1935. While his middle name faithfully spelled out his mother’s family history, his R.R. initials paid tribute to his father’s long service on the railroad which perhaps serves to explain Dick’s lifelong passion for exquisitely accurate clocks and watches. This also throws light upon Dick's later penchant for train-spotting.
While attending high school in Curwensville, PA, Dick spent summers with extended family in his mother’s hometown of North Tonawanda and worked at Durez Plastics and the International Paper mill there. Later he entered Ithaca College to pursue his love of radio, training as an announcer, and earned his B.A. in 1958.
Dick volunteered for the United States Navy, serving as quartermaster on the destroyer USS Samuel B. Roberts, DD823. Dick was proud to have taken part in 1959 in “Operation Inland Seas” upon the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Sailing up the St. Lawrence, through the Welland Canal and on to Lake Michigan, the fleet sailed all five Great Lakes. They also completed a Mediterranean tour.
He married Beverly Slack on August 27, 1966 in Rochester, NY. Having shifted his professional focus to social work for Erie County, he was then hired into the New York State Division for Youth and, as a youth counselor in Industry, NY, Dick was selected by New York State for a full graduate scholarship. The couple moved to New York City where Dick completed his Master’s degree from Columbia University in 1968.
Dick was a great lover of music and the arts, creating original works from his own hand and collecting memorabilia from Buffalo’s forgotten and abandoned industrial underpinnings that he displayed artistically in a private museum setting at his home.
In his retirement years after 1994, Dick devoted himself to helping pass along the heritage of Frank Lloyd Wright, acting as docent at Wright’s Darwin Martin House and Graycliff where he enjoyed leading hundreds of tour groups over the many years he served.
He always enjoyed being out in nature and eventually became a pretty darned good birdwatcher.
But more than anything else, he was a friend to all.
Dick is survived by his wife Bev Hiestand, their sons Christopher (Kathleen) Hiestand and Mark Hiestand, his brother Fred Hiestand, nephews Trevor (BryAnn Chen) Hiestand and Jason (Megan) Hiestand, as well as cousins Helen Root Schieffer and Janet Root Mialkowski and his fast friend Wally Lamb.
Memorials, if desired, may be made to Niagara Hospice to whom the family wishes to extend our sincere thanks.
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