Roll of Honor

James Duane Richards

  • Assistant Chief
  • Oran Volunteer Fire Department
  • Iowa
  • Age: 49
  • Year of Death: 2003

Submitted by his wife

Jim Richards was a wonderful husband of 20 years and father of our two children‚ Jessica and Joshua. He could always be found at school functions watching them proudly or cheering them on. One of his proudest moments came just 2 weeks before his death when he escorted his daughter‚ as she became Homecoming Queen at her High School football game. And again just a week before his death when Josh shot his first Canadian goose in our front yard while Jim worked in the garden.

One of Jim’s and my biggest accomplishments was the remodeling and construction of our family craft shop. Countless hours with family and friends were spent tearing down old buildings‚ cleaning up the lumber and building what in now Kountry Krafts. We have wonderful memories of times spent together doing this project.

Jim was also the owner/operator of his business‚ Richards Repair. This business of 29 years was a shop for area farmers to bring their equipment for repairs. Jim would weld‚ fix or remake farm machinery for them. Knowing all his customers personally and their families was what Jim enjoyed most about his job.

I first met Jim when we were both taking a first responders class. Jim with the Oran Fire Department and I with the Westgate First Responders. We both believed in helping our communities as much as possible. Jim served on the Oran Fire Dept. for 29 years. Three years as Fire Chief and 18 years as assistant cheif. Jim enjoyed the fire department‚ the men on this department are not just his very best friends but also a brother and a nephew. He cared deeply for these people. They were family.

The community was Jim’s life. He was a lifetime member of the IC Church in Fairbank‚ Iowa. He was very active in the FFA program at the Wapsie Valley High School where our kids attend. He helped with the construction of the greenhouse and chaperoned countless trips for the kids. Volunteering was a big part of Jim’s life and the fire department was the biggest. Jim could be found every year flipping pancakes at the annual First Responders breakfast of helping with table clean up at the steak fry. Dealing at the Fireman’s Stag or whatever and whenever an extra hand was needed. Most of these time we would show up as a family to help. He taught his children very young to pitch in and help out and to be volunteers in life. He taught them that not everything had to be done for money and that you would be a better person by helping others.

Jim loved reading‚ fishing and spending time with his family. We loved the food‚ the talks‚ and the laughs. The memories! He loved us all as we loved him.

Jim died on October 20th of 2003. He died just a few miles from our home of a fatal heart attack. He was fighting a field and structure fire on a neighbors farm with wind gusts of 30 m.p.h.. He was 49 years old.

Jim was a good man‚ a wonderful husband‚ father and friend. He was the center of our lives and is missed very‚ very much.

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