Let the memory of Peter be with us forever.
This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Peter Richards . We will remember him forever.
Posted by Gwen Czura on April 10, 2019
Our father Peter Michael Richards was born December 20, 1934, in San Jose, California, to Reva and Aaron Richards. From a very early age, he demonstrated keen mathematical ability, always choosing baby or toddler toys that he could count and rearrange into interesting geometric shapes. His aptitude for learning led him to Bellerman Catholic Boys School in Santa Clara, where he met lifelong friends and remained in contact with them and with the priests who taught him for the rest of his days.
Following graduation from Bellerman, he turned down a full scholarship to Yale University, saying it should go instead to someone who could not afford the tuition. He opted for MIT, instead, where he met more lifelong friends and graduated with a degree in physics.
After graduating from MIT, he returned to his home state of California and got his PhD in Physics from Stanford University. His achievements at Stanford led him to win a Fulbright Scholarship for post-PhD study in Pavia, Italy.  After completing that work, he moved to England to teach at Oxford University.  Following his work at Oxford, he accepted a job as physics professor at the University of Kansas.  In 1970 he moved to Albuquerque, NM, where he worked at Sandia Laboratories.   He took early retirement to pursue a combination of his favorite activities:  outdoors endurance sports and travel.  During his years in New Mexico, he was an avid long-distance runner, winning first-place in the over-50 master's division of the Pike's Peak Marathon.  He ran in the Boston Marathon four times and also completed a 72-mile run at Lake Tahoe.  
He moved to Salem, OR in 1994, by which time he had substituted running with bicycling and cross-country skiing.  He qualified for numerous master's rankings in both sports.  Two of his favorite bicycling competitions were the Mt. Washington race in New Hampshire and in Big Bend National Park in Texas.  He was featured in a front page article in the Salem Statesman Journal for his bicycling travels.  He was nicknamed "China Pete" by his Oregonian cyclist friends. 
Some of his favorite adventures by bike were in Tibet, where he travelled as much as possible.  When travel for Americans in Tibet was restricted, he took his bicycle to neighboring countries.  While in Ledoc, he saw the Dalai Lama and befriended one of the head Rimpochets, who brought his family to New Mexico to visit Pete and his wife Bette in their home.  Pete learned to speak Chinese and taught English as a foreign language in that country.  He also wrote a yet-to-be-published book and other stories about his travels in China back in the days before the internet and e-books.  He bicycled across Russia, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Romania and in the Andes in Bolivia.  He also completed two bicycle trips across the USA, ending one of them in time to arrive at his 50-year graduation ceremony at MIT, accompanied by his daughter and three granddaughters.
He was devoted to his family and his grandchildren, and went out of his way on numerous occasions to watch his granddaughters’ soccer games. He once taught as a guest teacher in their high school math class at Hilton Head Prep. He traveled to South Africa to spend time with me, while I was studying at University of Cape Town. He had a fine sense of adventure and we always had some very entertaining experiences with Dad. One example was at Cape Point, when a wild baboon stole his sandwich, and Dad tried to wrestle it back from him. The baboon won, and luckily my father survived unscathed and laughed heartily about it afterwards. He took my brother Alec, a sports photographer, back to Lawrence, Kansas, to watch a University of Kansas Jayhawks game. He loved sports, and was an avid Jayhawks fan and later Trailblazers fan after moving to Oregon. He loved bringing his family and friends to sports events.
Until the very last few years of his life, when Alzheimer’s illness prevented him from being active, he still did as much bicycling, traveling and visiting family and friends as possible. He had a great zest for life, and his enthusiasm was contagious. Even in the memory care home in which he spent his final four years, he captivated the hearts of the entire staff with his radiant smile. He still found joy in life, even in those last days. He still enjoyed listening to songs on his iPod, many of them songs from his youth. He had a smile for everyone who came to visit him.
Another of his nicknames came from two young French Canadian bicyclist friends who cycled across Russia with him: Super Dedo, which they said means super-grandfather.
He was one of a kind, and will always be greatly missed.  
He is survived by his wife Bette, son Alec, daughters Gwen and Winnie, and his three granddaughters, Elle, Lane and Maren.  He was preceded in death by his beloved cat, Gris-Gris.
Posted by Gwen Czura on April 10, 2019
For my beloved father, Peter Michael Richards. Although he left us too soon, he had a huge zest for life and lived his to the fullest. Dad was a brilliant physicist, writer and endurance athlete. He had a huge heart, which shone through in his infectious smile and twinkling eyes. A competitive bicyclist with a keen sense of adventure, he rode his bike all over the world, usually along the roads less traveled. And he made friends everywhere he went. The Himalayas, especially Tibet, were his favorite place. The picture of him on his bike was taken there. Besides riding across the USA twice, he also cycled across China and Russia, in the Andes, Romania and Southeast Asia. Generous, honest and inspirational, with a wonderful sense of humor, he always encouraged us to reach for our dreams. He made a point to stay in close contact with his cousins, high school and college friends his entire life. It is a great honor and blessing to be his daughter.

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