Richard Garmer, 84, of Bozeman, MT passed away Thursday, June 4, 2020 at HighGate Senior Living.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 9:30 AM, Saturday, June 13, 2020 at Dahl Funeral & Cremation Service, 300 Highland Blvd, Bozeman, MT followed by a graveside service with military honors.
Richard “Dick” Garmer was the youngest of three born to William “Bill” and Jennie (Larson) Garmer on February 15, 1936. Dick is predeceased by his brother, Donald, and sister, Billie Nelson. Like his father, Dick became a skilled teller of tales. All of them are true, according to him, and many will hopefully be shared at the celebration. He played basketball at Bozeman High School and was offered a partial college scholarship but chose another path. Dick made friends easily and was extremely loyal. He has been accurately described as having a gruff, grizzly bear exterior but just a big teddy bear inside.
Despite developing a lifelong love for western Montana, Dick wanted to see the world. He joined the US Navy in 1955. After initial training as an Electronics Technician, Dick was assigned to the naval base in Naples, Italy where he worked on equipment that tracked the Soviet Navy in the Mediterranean Sea. He managed to stay there for almost three years, traveling around southern Europe chasing the best food, and women, although those rumors are unconfirmed. After the Navy found out what he was doing, they ordered him back to the states and assigned him to Naval Air Station Quonset Point, Rhode Island.
While most men would have found an assignment to Quonset Point a punishment, Dick met and married his first wife, Fern Myrl Ehrnfeldt, who was also in the Navy. Today’s HR rules did not apply then. They were married 21 years and had three children; William “Bill” Richard (58), Robert “Bob” Dennis (56) and Gail Ann (age redacted). He later trained as an Avionics Technician (aircraft electronics) and worked on some of the most advanced aircraft of time including the RA-5C Vigilante and the F-14A Tomcat.
During the Vietnam War, he served on three cruises as part of the US Seventh Fleet “Tonkin Golf Yacht Club.” He served on the aircraft carriers USS Kitty Hawk and USS Midway along with the amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli. During the last cruise on the Tripoli in December of 1971, the Tripoli was assigned to Task Force 74 and sent to the Indian Ocean to monitor the war between India and Pakistan.
Dick was then assigned to VF-1, the first operational F-14 squadron in the US Navy. In this position, he was responsible for developing the procedures to be used by the fleet for maintaining the new F-14. It was a major responsibility and a great honor. He achieved the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer.
After his service he worked for NASSCO, a ship builder, in San Diego, CA. Some famous ships were built while he was there including the USNS Comfort and Mercy. Not all the ships out of NASSCO could be winners, the Exxon Valdez was also built and later repaired at NASSCO. In Dick’s defense, he was one of the shipyard workers building and repairing the ship and not the idiot who drove it onto a rock.
Dick left San Diego and returned to Bozeman to spend the last three decades of his life. He took care of his parents during their final years. He married his high school love Ann Dickerson and even though the marriage lasted only a short time, they remained friends.
Despite being retired and having responsibilities for the care of his parents, he adopted two of his grandchildren, Andrew Maxwell and Jessica Fern (Ruiz). He raised them from an early age and took the role of “team mom”. He would drive all over western Montana taking Andrew and his teammates to their baseball games and Jessica and her teammates to soccer games. He was famous for keeping score using rocks on the side of the field. He had a happy home which served as a gathering place for Jessica’s and Andrew’s friends and teammates. Although he complained about all the food they ate, he loved every minute of it.
Dick rekindle his childhood friendship with his fellow members of the Bozeman High School class of 1955 as well as meeting new friends. This group would have weekly OPD – Old People Dinners – trying out various restaurants and sharing stories. He leaves these friends behind but will not be forgotten.
He also leaves behind two additional grandchildren, Caitlyn Alexandra and Justin Robert, children of Bill and Tracy Garmer and three great grandchildren Emma and Lilyan, children of Andrew and Sydney, and Bennett, child of Alex and Jessica Ruiz.
Dick was a lover of animals and adopted his animal companion, Chipper. The family requests that instead of flowers, donations be made in his name to Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter.
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