Richard Munson passed away unexpectedly October 5th, 2021 at his home in Denver, Colorado. Rich entered the world March 3rd, 1955, in Miles City Montana to Donna and Glen Munson and spent his youth in Hysham, Montana where he apparently walked to school in blizzard conditions uphill both ways in the winter. Rich attended Montana State University in Bozeman where he met and married the beautiful and gregarious Christine Brown of Great Falls, Montana. As a senior in college with a wife and child (surprise!), Rich buckled down and graduated in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering. His diligent work paid off and upon graduation, he accepted a position with Conoco and moved his growing family to Houston, Texas. There he spent the next 17 years trying to adjust to living in an oven. Apparently, the Texas heat is good for something because in 1979 Chris and Rich welcomed their son, Ian, into the world. Rich evidently loved surprises!
Rich worked hard establishing his career in Houston and ensuring his family was provided for. He was away from home for long hours during the week and travelled frequently to foreign countries. He never failed to bring something home for his children whether it be foreign coins, clothing or mementos. During this time, Rich loved to travel and he relished meeting interesting personalities all around the world. Rich especially loved Germany and the friends he made there as well as the culture, food, and drink. You could always tell when Rich truly enjoyed a fine meal with drink and friends or family as he would sit back in his chair and smirk while he quietly patted his belly with both hands as if he knew the secret to happiness; and if you by chance caught his eye in that fleeting moment, then you too knew the secret.
Even though his life’s journey took him away from Montana his heart never left. He even sent his kids to relatives in Montana every summer in tribute. The airlines just loved unaccompanied minors. Montana lived and breathed in our hearts and minds and sung to our family’s spirits always. In 1993, after a much anticipated and completely stress-free visit from his mother-in-law, he received an unexpected offer to purchase the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Bozeman, Montana. The first thing he did was go to a KFC near our house and order almost everything on the menu. Now if you know Rich, you know he is a very practical man, but after our family gorged on chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits, Coleslaw, and any other scrap of food to be had, Rich decided to throw caution to the wind and go for it. He may have been in a food coma, we’re still not sure.
Sometimes life takes an unexpected left turn and other times you must be brave enough to make a left turn on your own and forge your own path. Go off-road so to speak. Rich was well suited for these kinds of journeys and could adapt to any situation. In beautiful Bozeman, we studied the chicken business like we were cramming for the final exam in senior year the night before the test. From 1994 to 1999 Rich could most often be found sweating in the kitchen heat cooking fried chicken, breading fried chicken or eating fried chicken. He often had flour on his person and a wild look in his eye during rush hour. Operating a family business together where parents and children work side by side each and every day forged a rare friendship and bond between Chris and Rich and their children. We had the opportunity to get to know our parents on a personal level and as colleagues. It brought our family much closer together than ever before. Regardless of how much hard work it required and how many long hours we all spent at the restaurant working, we will always value and respect the fateful decision Rich and our family made to create our own left turn in the road of life. We would not be where we are today without that detour and for that we will be forever grateful that Rich took a chance.
In 1999 the Munson family retired from the chicken business and Rich went to work back in the engineering and materials handling business which took him to Kirkland Washington for several years and then to Kansas City, Kansas. There are many things in this life you simply can’t anticipate, and Rich became widowed in 2008 with the sudden passing of his wife Christine. This was a devastating loss for Rich and their children, and the Munson family would never be the same again.
For those that knew Rich, he had a very sharp and witty sense of humor. You could also say it was dry and sarcastic. Quite often you may not even be aware you were in the presence of great humor. The joke was so high you would have to stand on the roof to get it. Rich was a very measured man who didn’t often display wild outbursts of emotions (except when golfing, but that doesn’t count). He was a man of few words but the words he did speak were consistently, and often annoyingly sarcastic. Rich was able to parlay his clever, sarcastic mind into finding love again with the elegant and talented Kathi (Maes) Broughm of Kansas City. The two were married in 2011. Rich and Kathi deeply enjoyed elegant dinner parties with their group of friends in Kansas. They took trips to Germany, Austria and other countries. Kathi and Rich enjoyed twelve laugh-filled years together until Rich’s untimely passing after a beautiful night out with new friends.
After ten years in Kansas City Rich and Kathi took an opportunity in Denver Colorado this year. Rich looked forward to meeting new people and often spoke of the good times and good companionship in his new community in Denver. Rich enjoyed golfing (it could have been a love/hate relationship), cooking (his fried rice was legendary), fishing (don’t believe anything he told you), biking (he did actually buy a bike) and social outings with friends and family.
Rich was thoughtful, kindhearted, generous, smart, devious, intuitive, clever and just a pleasure to be around. He genuinely cared about everyone. He was a great mentor on the practicalities of life and frequently provided free unsolicited advice. “Always be prepared for what life will throw at you. That way you are never surprised” was his motto and Rich spent long hours planning for the future. He looked forward to the time where he could comfortably set aside the rigors and responsibilities he committed to and just enjoy the fruits of a lifetime of labor. The path one chooses in life is never guaranteed. We are all grateful to have known Rich and to be a part of his life and legacy.
Rich is survived by his wife Kathi (Maes) Munson, daughter Sarah Walters and her husband Jack Walters and their son Jack; son Ian Munson and his wife Jennifer; Sister Christy Ruckwardt and her children Katy Stahler and Nick Ruckwardt; Stepdaughter Jenn Nimmo and her partner Kraig Sullivan and children Erin & Wesley Howard, and various first, second and third cousins. Rich’s remains were cremated per his wishes and his family is holding a graveside ceremony in Hysham, Montana at the Hysham Memorial Vale Cemetery on Friday October 15th at 2pm. Meal and remembrance to follow at the Hysham Community Center. Rich’s family would love to hear how you remember Rich by visiting the below website and sharing. https://stevensonfuneralhomes.com/obituaries/richard-munson-age-66-formerly-of-hysham-mt/