The life of Richard Nolan Galbreath was made up of a consistent theme of connections. He connected with the Earth on December 16, 1934, in Winamac, Indiana, son of Olive Octavia and Merl Galbreath and died peacefully on April 24, 2022 with family by his side. He never made an Earthbound connection with his older brother Blair but grew up hearing stories and memories about his short but sweet life. He remained connected to his older sister, Jeanne and her family, and travelled often to visit them near his childhood home.
During his 87 years on Earth, “Dick” spent his time building and making connections with his family, his work, his farm, his church, and his community. He initially started the work of “connecting” through his boyhood paper route. He would diligently ride his bicycle delivering papers connecting his neighbors to their community through the daily news and earning him an achievement award of “#1 Paper Boy” winning a brand-new Schwinn bicycle. His father died when Dick was just 13 years old, but they connected through numerous shared hobbies and interests. Dick loved to go hunting with him for arrowheads in the sand hills of Indiana and he and his father would create displays to show off his treasures. He also connected with his father as he earned merit badges and learned life skills while ascending the ranks of the Boy Scouts. His father died 1 month short of Dick receiving his Eagle Scout status at the age of 13, breaking a connection at an early age but forging a new “young man” who was now in charge of helping himself, and his mother, survive lean times.
As a young adult, Dick attended Purdue University and became involved in the Navy ROTC. He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. It was abundantly clear at that point in time that Dick was destined to be on a path using his logical and analytical mind to build and connect things.
He joined the Navy upon graduation and entered flight school in Pensacola, Florida. During this time, he became a proud father of two beautiful daughters, Tamara and Michelle. He also began his career as a mechanical engineer starting with Central Soya, General Tire, and then Old North Manufacturing Company. During this period in his life, Dick used his skills to invent patented bridge expansion joints, connecting the slabs of concrete that are driven over every day.
His theme of connection continued in 1965, with a chance encounter on a flight bound for Dallas, Texas. It was love at first sight when he spotted a flight attendant named Diane Lippard, and this flight between Chicago and Dallas became a connection of marriage and love that spanned 57 years on Earth and will continue until they are reunited. Julie and Rob were born from this marriage and his pride of family continued to grow as he taught skills ranging from the symbolic nature of numbers and mathematics to caring for the animals and property of Rosedale.
During this phase of his journey, Dick, Diane, Julie and Rob spent time connecting with the world through travels and service. India, Indonesia, the island of Majuro, the Philippines, along with vulnerable communities in the U.S. were visited and cared for as part of his volunteer work with the Institute of Cultural Affairs. Exchange students from Japan, Brazil, Germany, and Spain became part of the family’s connection to children around the world.
After retiring as a Navy Commander, Dick began a new way of connecting with his faith and with his community through a new career as a United Methodist minister. He was the embodiment of an old-fashioned circuit rider preacher. He spent time connecting to members of the United Methodist churches on the Nottoway Charge (Bethel and St. John’s) and on the Nottoway-Lunenburg Charge (St. Mark’s, Thrift’s Chapel and Laurel Hill). He enjoyed many years of service on the ARMS Board (Association of Retired Ministers and Spouses). He also continued to cultivate and grow deep personal connections with neighbors of the Wilsons, Dinwiddie, and Blackstone communities, including dear lifelong friends made at Grace Church.
Over the 40 years spent at Rosedale, Dick connected with his home’s earth through gardening and caring for the plants and birds that were so special to him. He was famous for setting up a radio next to his plants, because both he, and his green-leafed friends, enjoyed hearing the classical music that he loved so much. He also had the world’s best hummingbird feeders, and closely connected to his tiny, feathered friends through a special perch he built to feed them at close range. His connection to his home was demonstrated through maintaining all the buildings and property that spanned back to 1790. He was a skilled fixer of barn roofs, stalls, fences, well pumps, leaking ponds, tractors, and just about anything that needed repair.
Everything Dick connected with was done so with total passion and intentionality. He made connections with people (his family and friends), places (his worldly travels and his beloved community in Wilsons), and things (the zillions of inventions he created for family and throughout his career.)