I first met Richard in May of 2002. I was shopping at B & L, a 99 cent store for teaching supplies. Richard struggled to reach for an item on the shelf. I asked if he needed any help. He asked if I was a social worker, I replied I am a school teacher. We went next door to Rudy’s Mexican Restaurant and talked for three hours. Thus, began a remarkable and life changing 18 year friendship.
Richard was born August 6, 1926 in the Bronx, New York to a lifelong Navy sailor and his bride. While his father was out at sea on duty, his mother spent her time enjoying the single life. Richard was raised by the Foster Care system and his brother Philip was raised by his stern grandmother.
Richard lived in many different households throughout his youth. He often mentioned how thankful he was for the diversity of his upbringing.
Richard volunteered for the Navy at age 17. He trained at the Great Lakes Naval Station. He was assigned to the newly built and commissioned light cruiser USS HOUSTON. After an initial cruise, it sailed through the Panama Canal and on to Hawaii. Eventually his ship joined the Pacific Task force under Admiral William F. Halsey.
Richard participated in numerous campaigns throughout, Marianas, Bonin Island, Guam, Rota islands, Palau islands and Mindanao. He continued on and fought in Formosa, Philippines, Leyte, Cebu, Manila Bay and Southern Luzon.
One of the highlights was the bombarding of Leyte, which prepared the landing of Army troops which eventually liberated the capital of the Philippines, Manila.
The USS Houston was hit by a torpedo on October 14,1944. Richard survived and the entire ordeal was recounted in the book titled “The Battle to Save the Houston” published by author John Miller in 1985.
After being honorably discharged from the Navy in 1946. Richard re-enlisted in the Air Force. He was assigned to Japan, handling mainly classified materials.
During this time, Richard married Chiyoko, a Japanese citizen. It was very difficult for an American serviceman to obtain permission to marry a Japanese citizen during this time, shortly after the war. But true love prevailed and Richard married his beloved bride.
Richard and Chiyoko were married for over 62 years. She worked over 30 years for The May Company, which became Macy’s at the LaCumbre plaza.
Following his discharge from the Air Force, Richard remained in Japan working as a translator for an American Company. Upon returning to the United States, he worked for the motion pictures studio as a driver and finally attended barber school in Pasadena, CA.
He first owned a barber shop in Lompoc and then in 1960, he purchased a barber shop on East Valley road in the upper village of Montecito. Eventually, Richard was forced to sell his shop to make space for the Post Office. Later he was part owner of the La Arcada barber shop and finished his career with his dear friend Willy at Willy’s barber shop on Figueroa street. Richard loved his clients and cherished the enduring friendships he was blessed by over the many years of barbering.
Richard was proud of his time spent in the military. He was a true patriot and loved being recognized as a World War II veteran. He constantly supported Veterans and proudly displayed his flag and patriotism. He enjoyed riding in the Veterans Day Parade.
He spent his last years of life living at Cliffview Terrace and truly loved all the staff like family.
Richard passed away on May 8, 2020. The day is recognized as Victory in Europe or VE DAY, which commemorates the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany to the allied forces, thus ending World War II. A fitting ending to a remarkable patriotic life.
Please make contributions in honor of Richard L Long to the local Veterans Foundation or Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation 1187 Coast Village Road, Suite 1-334 Santa Barbara, CA 93108 or call 805 259 4394 or at email@example.com. or kindly donate to the Visiting Nurses & Hospice Care 512 East Gutierrez Street Santa Barbara, CA 93103 or call 805 965 5555. Please remember to value and tip your barber
No services are being held as requested by Richard. Just remember a friend is a present you give to yourself.