By Raechel Rickard in honour
My Papa, R.L. Rickard, was born
in Buffaloe Arkansas on
February 22, 1930. His parents
were Leonard Rickard and Effie
Bazzill and he has three
sisters, Odell, Opal Ruth, and
He was born to a
and grew up
working in cotton
and bean fields.
He joined the
from high school
at 17 years of
While on a 30 day
leave back home he
met Gloria Imogene
Gilliland on February
They married on March
11th, 1953 and stayed
together for 51 years
then my Nanny passed
in 2004. He was so
heartbroken my mom
had to make him eat.
When he joined the
Navy they made him
take on the name
Robert Lynn which
he would pass down
to his youngest
He had three
Rickard, and Robert
He spent 7 years on the White House
Staff operating and maintaining the
Presidential Yacht under both
Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy.
He knew President Kennedy well and his
house was decorated with many letters
from the White House. Probably the most
unique of which was from Mamie
Eisenhower thanking him for assembling
basketball goals for her kids. Often
R.L. and his family were invited to
Christmas Dinner at the White House.
Papa is the second from the left and
Dwight D. Eisenhower is the man holding
In 1963 R.L. received orders to move to
Hawaii. President Kennedy asked him how
he liked his orders and Papa said that
he would prefer working tugboats on
the east or west coast. His orders
were changed to Tugboat Master at
Treasure Island in San Francisco.
Everyone knew his tug on sight
because of the dancing bull backed by
a white diamond adorning it’s stack.
He completed 22 years in the Navy and
retired as Chief Boatswains Mate
having received the American Defense
Medal with Fleet Clasp, Navy
Occupation Service Medal with Asia
Clasp, China Service Medal, United
Nations Service Medal, National
Defense Service Medal, Korean Service
Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal.
Proud of his naval career his license
tag read BMC RET.
After R.L. retired he worked a variety
of jobs and moved back to Paragould
Arkansas on May 4th 1971. When they got
a house on New Friendship Road he began
working at Darling Store Fixtures on the
maintenance crew, eventually leading it
Prior to retiring he was honoured as a
distinguished senior employee.
He also enjoys gardening and auto repair
as the ‘jack-of-all-trades’ and he has
little need for repair and service men.
He built most of the house that he lived
in with his family in Paragould. When they
first moved in it was a three-bedroom
house but Papa added a master bedroom,
dining room, utility room, den, oversized
two-car garage, three sheds, and a storm
To this day R.L. is a devoted Christian
and extremely friendly, even to the
point of inviting a Sear’s Catalogue
lady to dinner when she called to tell
him his order had come in. He is a
teacher, leader, and a man of values
who hides a soft center behind a gruff
but quiet manner.
Earlier this year he had a stroke and
is recovering but has to sell his house
and belongings and live with Heidi and
Bobby. He may also have Alzheimer’s or
it could just be the stroke damaging
This is the end of
In Honour of R.L. (Papa) Rickard.
I love you Papa.