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Richard Vernon McColley

April 26, 2015
Richard Vernon McColley
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Obituary for Richard Vernon McColley

Richard Vernon McColley

January 17, 1936 – April 26, 2015

Richard Vernon McColley, 79, passed away Sunday evening, April 26, 2015 at the Peppi’s House Hospice of the Tucson Medical Center after a brief illness. Richard and his late wife, Betty, retired to Sierra Vista in 1999 after living in Phoenix, Arizona for more than 30 years. Richard was born in Gladwin, Michigan to Cloyce and Nellie McColley.

Richard was an avid recreational pilot. His love of flying combined with his charitable spirit led him to found an annual Christmas Airlift to the Navajo Nation, an effort he started in Phoenix in 1985 with the Arizona Blue Flyers and expanded to include Sierra Vista pilots in 1999. The 2014 Airlift marked the 30-year anniversary of the Airlift and included more than 30 planes transporting clothing, toys and nonperishable foods to the Navajo Tribal Members.

One of Richard’s favorite flying activities was his membership in the Experimental Aircraft Association, in which he loved introducing children to aviation through the Young Eagles Program. Over the years he has taken up hundreds of children in his Piper Archer II to share his passion for flying. Richard also served as a volunteer mercy pilot for Flights for Life, for which he used his plane to transport blood products for waiting patients. He was currently serving as Chairman of the Sierra Vista Airport Commission, and was committed to promoting the benefits of the airport services to the general public.

He had also served as a volunteer for the Forgach House, a crisis shelter for victims of domestic violence and their families. Most recently he was an active volunteer for the Sierra Vista Community Chorus, in which his wife Linda Moss performs.

Richard’s dedication to community service was recognized in 2007 by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, which awarded Richard its prestigious Medal of Honor.

Prior to retirement, Richard was an electrical engineer with Vodavi, and for much of his career was employed with Honeywell and Honeywell Bull.

He was the devoted husband of Betty for 51 years before her death in 2008, and has been the loving husband of Linda Moss for the last five years. He was the caring father of Greg McColley of Glendale, AZ, Richelle Delavan of Madison, NJ, Bruce (and Natie) McColley of Alexandria, VA, and daughter-in-law Teri McColley of Glendale, AZ; the proud grandfather of Carolyn (and James) Griffiths, Rich McColley, Lucas Delavan and Brandon McColley; and the indulgent great-grandfather of Jimmy and Jonah Griffiths. He was preceded in death by his parents Cloyce and Nellie McColley, his wife Betty Jane McColley, and his sister Kay L. Slocum.

As per his wishes, Richard was cremated and his cremains taken back to Gladwin, MI for interment in the family plot. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, May 24 at 2:00 PM at the Sisson Funeral Home, 135 N. Silverleaf Street in Gladwin, with interment following at the Ridge Cemetery on Pratt Lake Road in Gladwin. Friends may greet the family at a reception following the interment at the Gladwin Free Methodist Church, 1312 N State St, Gladwin. Memorial contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to either the Forgach House Crisis Shelter, P.O. Box 1961, Sierra Vista, AZ 85636, or to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital online or 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

Arrangements are pending


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