Rich Gagnon was born on September 10, 1925, in Woodland, Maine. He graduated from St. Croix High School at age 15. After one year at the University of Southern Maine, he enlisted in the Navy. Later he enrolled at the University of Maine, graduating with a B.A. in education. He started teaching biology in Casa Grande, AZ. He then attained his Master’s degree in counseling from the University of Arizona.
While in Casa Grande, he met and married a most wonderful lady—Betty Jane Dean. In 1954 the Gagnons moved to Corona, CA where he taught biology. In 1958 they moved to Ventura, CA where he taught physiology and oceanography at Ventura High School and algebra at Ventura College. He then attended Oregon State University earning his second M.A., this one in biology.
After twenty years of teaching in Ventura, Rich decided to change his life. He separated from Betty, although they maintained a loving relationship until Betty’s death in 2009. Rich had many talents and he used them to enter each new job with a spirit of enthusiasm and complete immersion. He waited on tables at the Biltmore Resort, Alisal Guest Ranch, Marianne’s, and others. He then worked for a year as a psychiatric assistant at Cottage Hospital. Consequently, he became the activities director at Patterson Gardens (now Buena Vista) where he was awarded a certificate from the Area Agency for the Aged for making improvements in the activities department. Finally, he became a caregiver for a gentleman with mental health problems.
In 2003 Rich met Juan Cruzado. They have had a close relationship ever since and have done considerable traveling together in the U.S. and Europe. In addition to Juan, Rich is survived by his four children: Rick, Dennis, Michele, and Timothy. He also leaves seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Special thanks to the nurses at Hospice and Visiting Nurses of Santa Barbara. Memorial services will be held at Unity Church, 227 E. Arrellaga in Santa Barbara at 2:00 p.m., November 7. Memorial donations in Rich’s name may be made to Pacific Pride Foundation, Ste. A-11, 126 E. Haley St., Santa Barbara, 93101, or GLBA Student Scholarship Fund, POB 90907, Santa Barbara, 93190.