Richard Arden Bermudes was my “second father.”
He passed away on May 9, 2014.
His memorial is tomorrow, June 7th, at the First Baptist Church in Windsor.
He was a truly great person and a living saint.
I have known his two sons, Randy and Rich, since I was about 12 years old.
We all grew up together in the tiny town of Healdsburg, CA.
RAB taught wood shop to thousands of kids in his many years of teaching.
Beth, his wonderful wife, taught many other kids during her career at Healdsburg High School and was “my second mom.”
They both called me their “third son” and it pains me greatly not to be able to be there to say goodbye or go to the memorial.
It is one of the truly horrible consequences of being an expatriate is that there are choices I have to make because of where I live and my job. We all do that, every day, but this is now the second time someone very close to me has died and I can’t be there to mourn and celebrate their life.
I am forever grateful for RAB and Beth allowing me and to live in their mobile home when I was married and for their constant trust and support whenever I needed it.
Jill and I visited Healdsburg a few days before I left for China and we found out that Beth and RAB were coming up from the bay area and we figured out a way to meet them for lunch. We were all very busy but we knew that I’d be gone for at least 2 years and we wanted to say goodbye. We didn’t know RAB was sick at that time but I knew that they had to meet Jill and I wanted to be able to hug them one more time. One never knows what will happen when you travel and I knew this was important.
We met in Santa Rosa and had lunch for about 1 or 2 hours. Mark Clausen came down and joined us. I am incredibly glad that Jill and they were able to meet and get to know each other since they are both such important people in my life and she was able to see the amazing humor, positive spirit, and absolutely loving personality that embodied everything RAB did in his life.
An example of this was when RAB was working on an elderly couple’s house in Healdsburg years ago. He got his fingers caught in a router and almost cut two or three of them off. RAB, in all of his RABness, decided he didn’t want to wake up the elderly couple and drove himself to the Healdsburg Hospital. Mind you, their Volvo was a stick shift and not an automatic and this was his right hand. He got to the hospital and they flew him down to San Francisco where they did the surgery and saved his fingers. He had months or rehabilitation and I don’t remember him complaining once.
RAB was truly one of a kind and will be missed by all who knew him.
Especially by me.
I love you, RAB, and will always cherish your smile, your laugh and your sense of happiness and freedom with which you lived your life.
Richard Arden Bermudes (“RAB”)
Former Healdsburg High School Teacher
Richard Arden Bermudes, husband, father, grandfather, Healdsburg High School wood shop teacher, and friend to all passed away peacefully May 9, 2014 at his home in Alexander Valley. The second son of Mary and Roberto Bermudes, Richard was born May 31, 1937 in San Diego California.
From 1972 until 1992 Richard taught basic wood shop, furniture building, cabinetry, and construction for Healdsburg High School, the Sonoma County Regional Occupational Program (ROP), and Santa Rosa Junior College. Known as “RAB,” Richard was a favorite of many of his students. One of his former students recently wrote, “For perhaps 45 minutes a day we would work on a nightstand… bit-by-bit we would produce beautiful projects under your guidance. That process of starting from nothing and creating something… I have carried with me ever since.” This excerpt from one of Richard’s students shows the kind of teacher Richard was. Richard, acting as a father figure and role model to many of his students, taught lessons of care, order, and perseverance through the fundamentals of woodworking.
In addition to teaching Richard did many construction projects around the county including building the Healdsburg Community Church. Richard specialized in Victorian trim work and remodeling Victorian homes in Sonoma County. His Victorian trim reproductions can be found at the Hope-Merrill and Hope Bosworth house in Geyserville and various Bed and Breakfasts in Healdsburg such as the Grape Leaf Inn.
After retiring from teaching, Richard spent time working on multiple projects with friends in the Healdsburg community, pursuing watercolor painting, photography, and nurturing the family vineyard. His Thursdays were spent playing bocce ball games with longtime friends and once a month he met fellow retired teachers for breakfast.
Richard was a member of the Federated Church (Healdsburg Community Church), and most recently the First Baptist Church of Windsor. Richard was friend to all and was always willing to talk about a wood working project or lend a helping hand. We often thought we were driving through town with the “mayor” of Healdsburg when we were with him.
Richard is survived by his wife Elizabeth (Beth) Bermudes of fifty years who continues to live on their farm in Alexander Valley, his eldest son Rich Bermudes (Sacramento California), son Frank (Randy) Bermudes (Petaluma California), daughters-in-law (Amy and Alethea Bermudes) and five grandchildren, Victor, Helen, Carina, Ruben (Sacramento) and Cyrus (Petaluma). Richard has a brother Robert Bermudes (Washington) and a sister, Linda Sterk (San Diego).
A celebration of Richard’s life and work will be held at the First Baptist Church of Windsor at 2pm on Saturday June 7, 2014. In lieu of flowers please make a donation to the Richard Bermudes Vocational Scholarship Fund. Please send donations to: Richard Bermudes Vocational Scholarship Fund, Healdsburg Foundation, P.O. Box 1668, Healdsburg, CA. 95448.
Thanks to Ben Kaatz Photography for the amazing photographs.