By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.

Richard Randolph Stockwell passed away on October 1, 2023 at home, peacefully in his sleep due to complications from heart failure. Richard was born August 9, 1954 at Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii to his military parents, Jerald (Marines) and Dorothy (Navy) McGee Stockwell. After the birth of his sister Virginia in 1956 the family moved to California and Richard lived and grew up primarily in the Oakdale area. He attended local schools and graduated from Oakdale Union High School in 1972. He enjoyed attending the 50th class reunion in 2022 and meeting up with old friends.

After high school he attended Columbia Junior College for a year, and lived in Tuolumne City. When the house he rented went up for sale, he moved to an apartment above a bakery in Twain Harte and remembered enjoying the wonderful smells of baked goods wafting upwards while living there.

In the Fall of 1973 he happened to go to Yosemite with his friend Wendell Larson and Wendell’s dad Harold when Wendell reapplied for work there. Harold told Richard that he should apply too. Three months later he had a job as busboy at the Ahwahnee Hotel and was eventually promoted to the position of waiter. He moved to Yosemite in 1974. In the Fall of 1975 he left the Ahwahnee and went to Park City, Utah, where he worked at the Christopher Restaurant and became a ski bum until July 1976, when he returned to work at Yosemite. He dearly loved Yosemite and his face would come alive when he spoke of his time there, the sheer magnificence of the park, the overwhelming beauty, the people he met there. His heart belonged to Yosemite.

Richard was a man of many interests and talents. In 1978 he left Yosemite for Humboldt and took a fulltime position with the US Forest Service as an irrigation specialist at the USFS nursery in McKinleyville, where he worked for 12 years. He then attended College of the Redwoods for two years, graduating in 1992 with a degree in plant science. He went to work as a groundskeeper at Ocean View Cemetery for eight years until 2000, when he joined the UA 290 plumbers union and worked two-and-a-half years at then Humboldt State University as landscape and irrigation foreman. After the job finished, he started his own landscaping contracting business for several years but stayed in the union and eventually worked for Maples Plumbing for almost seven years, on the underground crew. He eventually went back to school for water treatment/waste water treatment licenses and his last job was as a waste water treatment plant operator at College of the Redwoods.

A very artistic and creative man, Richard loved art and in 1983 he began collecting paintings from many local artists. He was particularly fond of the works of Jim McVicker, Stock Schleuter and George Van Hook, and later also collected many paintings from numerous other local artists. An event in 2017 would change him late in life when Floyd Bettiga gifted him a painting and Richard painted him a pastel thank you card in return. Floyd, who had been his art teacher many years before at CR, loved the card and encouraged him to start painting again, insisting that he should have a show at the Morris Graves Museum of Art. At the time, he didn’t even own a paint brush. In April 2018 Richard’s first ever art show premiered in the Floyd Bettiga Gallery at the Morris Graves. And he never looked back. He switched from pastel to oil by the end of 2018 and was a very prolific painter. He had a natural eye for composition and color and he painted every chance he got. He loved being part of the local painting community he had long admired.

Richard learned about fine wine while working as a waiter at the Ahwahnee and was always interested in having a winery. In 1999 he bought 40 acres in Blocksburg to plant his own vineyard. He went to winemaker seminars and studied viticulture in his spare time, and soon planned his own vineyard, breaking ground and planting grapes. He eventually built a cabin in 2004 with the help of friends and spent many weekends out there working the grapes and enjoying the panoramic views of sunrises and sunsets. He remembered that he and friend Pete McArdle nailed down the cabin floor on his 50th birthday.

Richard loved many things including fishing, art and music (particularly blues), skiing, gardening, playing harmonica, making wine. He learned to fly, he could work with bricks, blocks, build beautiful exposed aggregate walls and steps, prune fruit trees, graft fruit trees, coax any flower to grow and he loved his cats and dogs. Richard had a crusty exterior at times, but inside he was mush.

He was preceded in death by his parents and sister Virginia. He was also preceded in death by his dear friend Pete McArdle, several other friends gone too soon, and his beloved shepherd Chip. He is survived by his wife Diana; his bonus kids Holly, Ricky, Matt, Amy and Eleanor; his sister Dee Anne (Willie) Jacobs; brother Jeff (Terry) Stockwell, niece Helena McGee (Matt McMahon) and nephew Robert McGee. He is also survived by a huge and loving group of friends he’d known for many years, and a huge and loving group of artists that made him welcome and encouraged and supported his painting. He was loved and admired by so many people and will be remembered fondly and missed.

There aren’t enough words to thank Hospice of Humboldt for their kind, nurturing, compassionate care these last few months. Each and every one of their employees truly cares. In particular we would like to thank Nurse Christie and Hospice Aide Travis for helping us navigate this difficult time.

Please donate to Hospice of Humboldt in honor of Richard, or plant a tree or flower to remember him by.

A Celebration of Life is planned for June, 2024 at home in the garden that he loved so much.

The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader

The Riverbank (Calif.) News

Oct. 11, 2023