Richard (Dick) Yetter, beloved husband and loving father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, passed away on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, at the age of 91.
Richard, a retired attorney, lived a life of faith and optimism. The youngest of 10 children, he was born March 4, 1929, in Rockledge, Pennsylvania.
A wiry but accomplished athlete in high school, Richard had a big smile, gregarious nature, and love of dancing. He graduated from Penn State University, earning a pre-veterinary sciences degree.
After graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He rose through the ranks to become an Armaments and Electronics Officer in charge of an 85-man crew that loaded and unloaded atomic bombs on massive B-36 bombers. Eventually, the military brought him to Biggs Air Force Base in El Paso, Texas.
There, Richard met and gave his heart to the love of his life, Lollie Gutierrez, and they married on Feb. 4, 1955.
Two years later, he retired from the Air Force as a captain and they headed off on a new career path to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There he attended Marquette Law School and was a member of Phi Delta Phi, a legal honorary fraternity.
One of Richard’s life passions was pursuing his profession as a lawyer for over 50 years. He was that rare attorney who could handle litigation, structure business deals, write leases, draft wills, and help his clients with an array of legal issues. For him, his word was his bond, and integrity and good humor were the foundations of his practice.
In 1999, the El Paso Times did a feature story on him on National Boss Day, as “one of El Paso’s most respected lawyers” as well as one of its “greatest bosses, witty, understanding, compassionate.” His longtime secretary said, “Going to work every morning is a pleasure. He makes your day.”
What Richard enjoyed most as a lawyer was the service aspect – taking the burden of misfortune or challenge from his clients onto his own shoulders to solve. The satisfaction of providing good service and fixing problems was, for him, ample reward in itself.
He tried to follow the example of his hero, Abraham Lincoln, in both empathy and humility. He went out of his way to accommodate his many clients of limited means by routinely providing legal work in return for whatever his clients could afford.
Richard was equally active in volunteering his time and talents to the El Paso community. Most of his contributions were done quietly without any expectation of recognition.
Over time, his tireless work on behalf of worthy local institutions, like Optimist and Kiwanis International, Military Order of the World Wars and Burges High School, drew attention to his leadership in service.
He was instrumental in establishing Pleasantview Home for Senior Citizens, where he served as board president for a decade. The success of the facility, run in conjunction with the Salvation Army of El Paso, prompted it to name him to its board, where he became Chair of the Salvation Army board in 1985, and later a Life Member.
In 1997, Richard was presented with the prestigious William Booth Award—named for the founder of the Salvation Army—in honor of Richard’s “deep concern for others and outstanding contributions to the betterment of humanity.” The award is given for dedication to the goals of service to people, outstanding service to the community through donation of time, expertise, and energy, outstanding humanitarian effort within the community, and substantial contributions to the work of the Salvation Army.
Most of all, Richard was devoted to his family. He is fondly remembered for his imaginative storytelling, constant joshing, tickling, and needling, and devoted attendance at countless school activities, music recitals, and sporting events. His grandchildren and others grew up enjoying him during the holidays as a jolly Santa Claus, complete with white beard, red suit, shiny black boots, candy canes, and a patient ear for long gift lists.
Richard’s most enduring impact on his family and everyone around him was his unwavering optimism. It was born of a deep faith in God’s loving guidance in times of challenge, tragedy, and success. Richard had a strong Christian faith, lived out in the United Methodist Church, where he was a Sunday school teacher, youth counselor, bus driver, and prayer group member.
He was preceded in death by his son, Robert Mark; grandson, Jason; and son-in-law, Bill Jones. He is survived by Lollie, his devoted wife; his children, Bruce (Margie), Tina, Paul (Patti), and Erich (Mary Ragna); his grandchildren Carl, Celina, Chris, Mark, Michael, Joseph, Thomas, Andrew, Daniel, Evan, Clara and Jacob; and his great-granddaughters, Hypatia and Ro.
Special thanks and blessings go to Jacob Boggs and the amazing caregivers at The Legacy at Cimarron for their loving care.
In light of the pandemic, Richard’s family will hold his funeral services next spring. Donations in his memory may be sent to the Salvation Army of El Paso, 4300 E. Paisano Dr., El Paso, Texas, 79905; (915) 544-9811.