Wyatt Jr., Richard - The Daily Progress: Obituaries

Monday, June 29, 2015

Wyatt Jr., Richard

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  • Richard Wyatt Jr.

Richard Haste Wyatt Jr. Richard Haste Wyatt Jr., died early Sunday, November 10, 2013. Friends describe Rick as a big-hearted giant of a man. Born October 14, 1947, in Haddonfield, New Jersey, he attended the University of Virginia, where he met his future wife, Debbie in 1967. They married in 1972, and he remained her loving husband, and best friend for 41 years thereafter. He was the bedrock of a father for their two sons, Tom and Will, not only attending their soccer games but coaching their teams with his playing-to-have-fun and winning-isn't-everything philosophy. Soon after marriage, Rick started woodworking with a youthful purchase of a Sears radial arm saw, then turned briefly to construction, helping to build, among other homes, the first and only known geodesic dome in the area. In 1979, Rick, Blaise Gaston, and Chris Murray came together to form the fine woodworking company of Gaston, Murray and Wyatt. The company grew and changed, his partners pursued other courses, and by the mid 1990s, he was the sole owner of what was now Gaston and Wyatt. Gaston and Wyatt became Rick's second family. He employed over 40 workers at a time, hiring a diverse group from top woodworkers to folks with little to no experience. He went to bat for them when they needed support, always trying to pay good wages with special benefits. Following the 2009 recession, he worked around the clock for years to bid jobs to keep from having to lay off any of his employees. Even with a fun-loving, easy-going managerial style, Rick, together with Gaston and Wyatt's fine woodworkers, established a national reputation and achieved such success that it was selected to do specialized work on various magnificent homes and buildings around the country, from Savannah, Georgia, to Greenwich, Connecticut, including historic buildings such as Charlottesville's own Monticello, the Octagon, Montpelier, Poplar Forest, and most recently the Maryland State House where the Treaty of Paris was ratified. Gaston and Wyatt was selected to reproduce the intricate trellised niche in the gardens of the novelist Edith Wharton. Rick and his company received many national awards for their contribution to fine woodwork and architectural restoration. Gaston and Wyatt continues on as Gaston and Wyatt Ltd. Rick's other great passion - to the perpetual mystery of his wife - was fishing, especially fly fishing both fresh and salt water, and he developed many wonderful and close friendships with impressive fellow fishermen. Rick was also adventurous and fearless, heading off into the jungles of Guatemala with Debbie for 6 months in the 1970s, and in subsequent decades, seeking out other raw worlds in Central America and enjoying off-the-beaten-track experiences anywhere he could find them. For years he hosted a widely attended fall trebuchet party, with a huge medieval trebuchet (siege engine), brought from VMI by a friend, which would hurl pumpkins and other items at distant targets to the cheers of the crowd. But of all Rick's qualities, he was certainly known best, and immediately, for his unshakable principles and integrity and his amazing sense of humor, which included irreverence for anything presumptuous, refusing to take himself - or anyone else no matter how esteemed - too seriously. Rick succumbed to his year-long fight against cancer days after returning from a final 4-day fishing trip. In addition to his wife and two sons, Rick leaves a loving sister, Linda Wyatt Gruber, of Ross, California. He was recently preceded in death by Fred, his close Irish Setter buddy of 13 years . A memorial to remember his life and recognize the loss will be scheduled. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to either Building Goodness, P.O. Box 4325, Charlottesville, VA 22905, or Pacem, providing shelter for the homeless, P.O. Box 14, Charlottesville, VA 22902.

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6 entries:

  • Jeff Chasen posted at 4:18 pm on Wed, Nov 27, 2013.

    Jeff Chasen Posts: 1

    Reading all about Rick's life and his active(and balanced) presence in business, as a good friend and most importantly as dad for Tom and Will helped me understand what a great person he was. I an sorry I did not know him better, but it seems his plate was quite full.Just like your dad, so many amazing things previously unknown to me. Clearly you and your children have been blessed to be surrounded by incredible men. Please accept our deepest condolences for your loss.
    Jeff and Brenda Chasen

  • Sam Cleveland posted at 12:41 pm on Mon, Nov 18, 2013.

    Sam Cleveland Posts: 1

    Rick and his business produced some beautiful work for my clients and photos of his work are gracing the walls of my office. I am saddened to hear of his passing and I give my best wishes to his family.

    Sam Cleveland

  • Mia White posted at 7:19 am on Mon, Nov 18, 2013.

    Mia White Posts: 1

    I met Rick 20 years ago, when we first moved to Charlottesville. Our boys--so little then-- were in school together, and had become fast friends. In the years since, they were fortunate to log countless hours with "Uncle Rick" as soccer coach, storyteller, breakfast maker, and leader of fishing, canoeing, and camping adventures. We attended several of those trebuchet parties, watched 4th of July fireworks from the roof of Gaston & Wyatt, and watched our boys grow into the young men they are now.

    Like everyone who knew him, I will miss Rick very much. I am deeply grateful for the many, many memories of his friendship and generosity, his warmth and humor, and yes--for that wonderful infectious laugh of his.

    With much love to Debbie, Tom, and Will,

  • Brian Faison posted at 7:38 pm on Wed, Nov 13, 2013.

    Brian Faison Posts: 1

    Rick's fingerprints are on much of the finest woodwork in this area, or anywhere. I was privileged to have installed some of it. Much can, and should, be said of his skill in our business and compassion for the less-gifted, but what I will keep as treasure is the resonance of his laughter. Rick was just a lot of fun, and he was generous with his defusing wit. I will miss him so much. As a Christian who believes that God's mystery is equaled by His mercy, I do expect to see Rick again. I pray this hope for us all. Rick is too precious to lose.


  • tinnin posted at 1:29 pm on Wed, Nov 13, 2013.

    tinnin Posts: 1

    Hey Rick,
    I know we somehow liked to annoy each other. Our saving grace being that we knew we could call on each other. Pride continues to be our greatest sin. Prayed for you Sunday night. Take care and remember our warranty. " If you ever have any trouble, what so ever, we'll call you. Respectfully,


  • Lori Trudgeon Wright posted at 7:01 am on Wed, Nov 13, 2013.

    Lori Trudgeon Wright Posts: 1

    Dear Debbie,

    I am so sorry to hear of Rick's death. My heart is heavy for you and your boys, but I am so happy to hear that he was able to go on his fishing trip. I wish you peace and please give yourself time to grieve. Call me if you would like to.

    Sincere thoughts and prayers,


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