For several years Richard had been
interested in the position of Science Advisor to the commander of
the Second Fleet, who was also the commander of NATO. He had
proven himself to be an able engineer, but each time he
interviewed, he failed to get the job. It was a
position, lasting for two years or less, but it would
be an important step in his career, giving him the advantage of an
extra grade in the federal service when he retired. Like most
engineers, he dressed more casually than most men in the
professions. He tended to wear sports jackets and slacks for all
but the most formal of occasions. Once again, in 1982, Richard
submitted his application to be a Science Advisor, and once again
earned him an interview. Not long before the
interview he went shopping and bought himself a nice wool suit. It
was dark charcoal gray with subtle pin stripes and he looked more
like a banker than an engineer. Perhaps it was the confidence of
knowing that he looked good, perhaps it was
only the impression
left by good tailoring worn by a man with natural good posture and
a trim physique, but this time he was given the position.
Richard found a home for rent in Virginia Beach. Once again the
family moved, knowing that this time it would be only temporary.
Meg and David were both preparing for missions for the LDS church.
Before long they got their mission calls. Meg was called to serve
in Italy, and David would be going to Taiwan.
Richard often went to sea aboard the vessel that served as
command vessel for the second fleet. Pat became an honorary member
of the Officer’s Wives’ Club. One day Richard was
ordered ashore. Not many hours later, his ship was part of the
invasion of Grenada. The admiral he served under was the commander
of the forces that stormed the little island and as a civilian,
Richard was not allowed to jeopardize himself by taking part
In the spring of 1983 the fleet planned a trip up to the arctic
circle and then down to ports in Europe from England to Portugal.
Many of the officer’s wives saw it as an opportunity to
travel. Richard was willing to have Pat join the ranks of those
who were planning to fly to Europe to join their husbands when the
arctic leg of the trip was completed. She flew to London and met
him there. He had traveled to England previously and he
showing her the sights such as the Tower of London. They took the
boat-train to France. In the years before the ‘chunnel’
made it possible to take a train from London to Paris, it was
common to take the train from London to Dover, take a ferry from
Dover to Dunkerque in France, and then resume the trip by train to
Paris. They spent the day, riding to the top of the Eiffel Tower
and taking a glass covered boat along the Seine, then they took
another overnight trip back to London.
While Richard was
involved in meetings with NATO, Pat took the train to Stratford
upon Avon. After a few days, it was time for Richard to travel on
to Lisbon to catch his ship and Pat returned to Virginia.
One of the results of Richard’s extended stays aboard the
boat was Pat’s realization that she was capable of getting
along without him for long periods. She could pay the bills,
arrange for car repairs, and take care of other business that
Richard had handled since their marriage more than twenty years
before. When he was away, there was no tension or fear of physical
consequences for her inadequacies and mistakes. Pat gave an
ultimatum to Richard. If he did not learn to control his temper by
school ended for the children, she would leave him in
Virginia Beach and return to their home in Fairfax County. If he
would agree to seek counseling, she would reconcile with him.
June came and school ended, it became apparent that Richard did
not take her warning seriously. She packed the furniture into a
truck and drove back to Northern Virginia.
Richard stayed on in
Norfolk for several more months and looked around at property in
the area, pursuing his hobby of purchasing real estate whenever he
had the means to do so. He purchased an old house on Willoughby
Spit near the confluence of the James River and Chesapeake Bay.
as Science Advisor ended after a year and when he returned to
Northern Virginia, he found a rented room in a house owned by an
older widow. She had signed up for Country Western dancing lessons
but she had broken up with her boy friend before the lessons
started and she had purchased a couple of sets of lessons.
Richard, always polite and kind to older people, agreed to help
her out by accompanying her to the lessons. He discovered that he
really enjoyed the activity and soon he was spending much of his
time after work with various teams of dancers.
He agreed to
meet with a counselor with Pat. Pat agreed to try a reconciliation
and for a while it seemed that they had truly renewed the life in
their marriage. Pat began to attend college at George Mason
University and Richard seemed to have found an outlet for his
frustrations in the
energy of dancing. He would often dance in
practice or on team exhibitions as many as seven or eight times a
week. Pat could not always join him, but she enjoyed the weekly
In this photograph Pat and Richard are
attending a County Western Dance
convention in Tennessee.
and David returned from their missions and David returned to the
BYU while Meg eventually found permanent employment with the same
agency that had been her Dad’s employer for many years.
Although she did not have a degree, she was very capable and had a
keen mind for engineering. She had served as a summer intern at
the David Taylor Model Basin for several years before her mission
and had earned recognition for her talents.
As time passed, the reconciliation between Pat and Richard grew
strained. Their old differences and misdirected behaviors came
back like bad habits that had not been banished. At the same time,
their middle son, Richard Chun-ling, was having difficulties with
school. Pat sent him to live with her sister Katie Roach in Utah
who found an excellent school for him. After visiting, Pat decided
that it would be best for most of the family if she moved to Utah
with the younger children. In August of 1986 Pat and her children
moved to the farm in Lehi that Richard had purchased years before.
Nancy was beginning her freshman year at the BYU and Tisha, who
was a junior at Falls Church High School, decided to stay behind
with her sister Meg in the house on Columbia Road that Richard had
purchased in the year that Eliza was born.
Sometimes Pat flew
to Virginia, and sometimes Richard traveled to Utah. They
saw each other every couple of months or so and the visits were
almost always good. Pat started attending classes at the
University of Utah after dropping Sam and Richard at their school
in Salt Lake City.
Meg decided to marry Skip Keller in early 1987 and Pat flew to
Virginia for the ceremony. Richard had been mostly inactive in the
church for the
previous several years, but he was able to
receive a temple recommend and attended the wedding in the
in June, Pat drove to Virginia with the younger children and
prepared a reception for the newly married couple.
of 1987, after returning from Virginia, Pat purchased a small
house on Bueno Avenue near 11th East and 1st South in order to
spend less time commuting and more time with Maryjane, Lucinda,
and Eliza. Tisha joined the family in Salt Lake City, attending
East High during her senior year while her sister Mary attended a
special program for gifted 7th
graders at West High.
announced his plans to marry his fiancee Jing, a lovely graduate
student in microbiology, in early January of 1988. The marriage
was to take place in a couple of weeks, on January 19.
Although it took place so rapidly that Richard was not able to
make plans to attend, it was a lovely wedding with David’s
grandparents and other family in attendance.