Monday, February 20, 2012

Could This Be the One?

I’ve always loved getting mail, and that enthusiasm is in no way diminished by the fact that, some days, that loveable mail shows up in digital form.

My faith in those Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness still lives: a greatly-appreciated volunteer responded to one of my forum queries about our initials-only mystery man, D. R. Rickard of Rockford, Illinois, who was part of the boot camp company photo from my father-in-law’s Navy days.

Of course, all this is beholden to the proviso that “D. R.” actually stands for “Donald Ray” and that we have the right World War II veteran that hails from the Rickard family in Rockford, Illinois. Otherwise, our search will be rocketed back to the proverbial square one.

In response to my forum request, here’s the gist of the obituary that this volunteer posted, found in the Rockford Register Star, published on December 28, 1991:
“Scottsdale, Ariz.—Funeral services for former Rockford resident Donald R. Rickard, 67, who died at his Scottsdale home Wednesday, will be at 2 p.m. PST today at Abiding Savior Lutheran Church, Tempe, Ariz. The World War II Navy veteran and aerospace engineer left Rockford for Arizona 22 years ago. He was employed with Garrett Auxiliary Power Division. He was a member of Roscoe Masonic Lodge 75 A.F. & A.M., Freeport Consistory and Tin Can Sailors.”
The obituary went on to list the surviving children and sibling living in the Rockford area, and to mention that burial would be at Green Acres Cemetery in Scottsdale.

The heartening thing about receiving this obituary is that, of the twelve men listed on the back of my father-in-law’s photo, this appears to be one of the few we've found who didn’t seem to have left life forgotten or alone. If this is indeed the D. R. Rickard we’re looking for, he had a successful career as well as family.

The interesting thing about the listing of Donald Ray Rickard’s memberships is the mention of the Tin Can Sailors. That very online entity was my means of finding a Donald Rickard listing—for the USS Ault, if you remember—and yet, the family member originally posting there on behalf of that Donald Rickard has contacted me to say that that Donald Rickard had a different middle name. When I look up the ship’s mates’ entries for the USS Mayrant on the Tin Can Sailors website, there is no listing for our D. R. Rickard. I am not surprised, though—while the Tin Can Sailors (officially The National Association of Destroyer Veterans) was founded in 1976, I imagine their web presence followed subsequent to Mr. Rickard’s passing.

I’m still awaiting any emails (or maybe blog comments) from Rickard family members who might be able to pick our D. R. Rickard out of the Company 162 photograph. Until then, I won’t be able to rest my case that this D. R. Rickard is the Donald Rickard of Scottsdale, Arizona. But at least I know the Scottsdale Rickard was a World War II Navy vet, too. And for that service, I’d like to say he has my gratitude—whoever he turns out to be.

Photograph, top left: USS Mayrant (DD 402) at anchor, prior to 1942; courtesy Wikipedia; photograph in the public domain.

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