Richard J. Ethier, 82, died on October 16, 2015, at Harrington Memorial Hospital in Southbridge, with his family by his side after a 6-year struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy (Carrstedt) Ethier of Oxford; three children, Gary J. Ethier and his wife Paula of Millbury, Michael R. Ethier of Oxford, and Deborah A. Willey and her husband Charles of Oxford; three grandchildren, Nicholas E. Ethier of Millbury, Bryan R. Ethier of Millbury, and Cassandra M. Willey of Oxford; and many nephews, nieces, and friends. He was predeceased by three brothers, Eugene, Raymond, and Robert Ethier; and his sister, Lorraine Koronkevich.
Richard was raised in the Cherry Valley section of Leicester and attended Leicester schools. He proudly joined the 11th Airborne Division of the U.S. Army and served during the Korean War. He attended boot camp at Fort Campbell in Kentucky and jump school at Fort Benning in Georgia. He jumped into combat during his active service with the Army. Richard was awarded the Korean Service Medal with 4 Bronze Service Stars and a Bronze Arrowhead.
Upon returning home, he met Dorothy, who would become the love of his life, at Woodbury Press in Worcester. They married in 1954 before settling and raising their children in Millbury. They resided in Brookfield for several years before settling in Oxford.
Richard drove truck for the Corenco Corporation in Auburn. He then worked for several local building contractors until he started his own building and contracting business, R.J. Ethier Construction, which he operated from 1973 until retirement.
Richard and Dorothy enjoyed many winters at their second home in Hudson, Florida. He enjoyed boating, fishing, dancing, singing, playing pool, playing poker, and gardening. He was a member of the Boston-Worcester Chapter of the 82nd U.S. Airborne Division and was a former member of the Knights of Columbus Council in Auburn. In his younger years, he loved the sport of skydiving, where he made over 500 jumps and won many competitions. He also made many exhibition jumps including several 4th of July celebrations in Millbury, Millbury’s 150th Anniversary Celebration, Oxford’s 250th Celebration, and as Santa Claus at the Nazareth Home for Boys in Leicester. He was well known for his incredible sense of humor and playing practical jokes, and was always the life of the party.
Richard was the first Scout Leader of Pack 98 in West Millbury and was an avid fan of the Red Sox, Bruins, and Patriots. He was affectionately known as Pepere by his grandchildren. Most of all, he loved spending time with his family and attending his grandchildren’s sporting events and activities. The family would like to thank all of the caregivers that helped Richard throughout his illness. He will be deeply missed.
A private service will be held at the columbarium at All Faiths Cemetery in Worcester. There are no calling hours. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 480 Pleasant St., Watertown, MA 02472. Paradis-Givner Funeral Home in Oxford is directing the arrangements.