A virtual memorial service will be held at a future date; arrangements are by Roller-Christeson Funeral Home.
Richard F. Hart Jr., a child of God, went forth from this world to rise in the glory of his eternal home on Friday, Sept. 11 (2020) at Hospice of the Hills House, after surviving three years with pancreatic cancer.
He was born on June 12, 1942, in Glendale, California. He attended school in Oakland where he created many friendships that have lasted a lifetime. It was one of those friends who thought it would be funny to set him up on a blind date with another redhead. As a result, Richard had his first date with Cova on Nov. 4, 1960, and the rest is history. They were married on Feb. 28, 1964, and were blessed to be by each other’s side for 60 years.
Richard liked to say he started working in his family’s monument business in Oakland, California, when he was four years old, with his first job of sweeping floors. He eventually took over the family business, East Bay Monument Company, and continued to grow that business while Cova started her teaching career in Oakland’s Chinatown.
In his early years, Richard developed an interest in cars and the speedway. He ultimately went on to test his race driving skills on the Bonneville Salt Flats and at other racetracks throughout Southern California. After the racing days of his youth, he continued to be a lifelong racing enthusiast. He was a great fan of both the stock-car racing of NASCAR and the open-wheeled grand prix excitement of Formula 1. He was a human rolodex of information about the drivers, cars, racetracks and stats of both these motorsports.
Richard and Cova relocated their family to Harrison, an idyllic small town of 6,000, where Richard founded Hart Monument Company. They arrived from California amid a snowstorm in February 1979; two girls in the back seat singing “Anywhere with Jesus we can safely go.” However, no one knew they arrived safely because an explosion at the local phone company left the Harts without a phone for six months.
When Richard retired and sold his monument company, he turned his lifelong passion for racing and cars into a second career, touring the country as a vendor for hot-rod car shows. This allowed him to travel the U.S., coast-to-coast, with Cova (and sometimes the grandkids!) many times over. Richard and Cova were often assisted by his sister-in-law, Betty, while on their adventures with “Richard’s Stuff.” In addition to traveling the U.S., Richard and Cova took every opportunity to see the world including Europe, China and Thailand.
When in California, Richard was actively involved with Optimist International, an organization focused on ensuring all children have opportunities to reach their full potential. Upon arriving in Harrison, Richard looked for an organization that shared his passion for service – especially to children. Richard quickly became involved with the Harrison Kiwanis Club and held all officer positions including president. Kiwanis has many fundraising activities in which Richard participated, with one such major fundraiser being a gun raffle. When you saw him walk through your door, you knew you would be buying at least one raffle ticket. He was consistently a leader and a ready volunteer, whether it involved selling pancake breakfast tickets, collecting donated items for the radio auction, or volunteering to park cars at the Boone County Fair. Richard has inspired many with his example of service and humility. Even while facing his serious diagnosis, he never stopped serving others and continued to ring bells for the Salvation Army and sell Kiwanis tickets for as long as possible. Richard is known to many for his service to others and his community in countless ways.
Richard was a devoted Papa to his four granddaughters, Addie, Catherine, Brynn and Vivian. Each one of them was his “favorite.” He imparted wisdom and advice to help get them through life’s obstacles, and never missed an opportunity to make the moment special. Richard would spend the entire year planning for Christmas Eve when he would come up with an elaborate Santa performance to bring Christmas joy to the girls no matter their age.
Richard was a bit of a story-teller. A dear friend of his recently said “If there is ‘story-telling’ in heaven, then there is a group sitting there wondering if Richard will ever get to the end of his story. He was the master of over-explaining his stories, but that was one of the things that made Richard, RICHARD!”
Richard was dedicated to the First Christian Church of Harrison and joyfully sang in the choir for over 25 years. He served as a deacon and elder. He was a devoted servant in every possible way to his church. Most importantly, he quietly served God by serving those in need. His was a life so well lived that it has lapped over to those around him.
Richard is survived by his wife Cova, of Harrison; his daughter, Rebecca Brantley and her husband Jay, of Fayetteville; his daughter, Jessica Milam and her husband Philip, of Harrison; his granddaughter, Addie (Milam) Luff and her husband Josh, of Kansas City, Missouri; his granddaughter, Catherine Brantley, of Fort Smith; his granddaughter, Brynn Milam, of Columbia, Missouri; his granddaughter, Vivian Brantley, of Fayetteville; and his sister-in-law, Betty Pearson, of Harrison.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you please send donations to the Children’s Christian Ministry, P.O. Box 576, Harrison, AR 72602 or Kiwanis Club of Harrison, P.O. Box 983, Harrison, AR 72602.
A virtual memorial service will be held at a future date.
Arrangements are by Roller-Christeson Funeral Home.
Signs the online guestbook at rollerfuneralhomes.com/harrison .