Richard Reynolds Mahaffey passed away peacefully on June 25, 2019 in Modesto, California at the age of 86. Richard was born on November 5, 1932 to his parents Frank Gibson and Marian (Laughlin) Mahaffey in Oakland, California.
Richard “Dick” Mahaffey was raised on Roberts Island near Stockton, California where his father owned the Mahaffey’s Collar and Elbow Tavern. Richard graduated from Fairchild Elementary School, Edison High School, San Joaquin Delta College, and also attended Humphrey’s Business College.
Richard was a true patriot all his life, serving his country in the military and later as a Department of Defense contractor. After high school, Richard enlisted in the United States Air Force where he served for four years, which started a lifelong devotion to the aviation industry. Following his Air Force service, he returned to the Stockton area and married Eunice Warren Mahaffey, started a family which grew to three children: Sheryl, Patricia and Frank. Richard worked for the Santa Fe Railroad for a few years, then moved the family back to Roberts Island where he ran the Mahaffey’s Tavern with his father.
Richard returned to the aviation field in the mid 1960’s as an overseas American contractor for nearly 30 years for Bell Helicopter, Parsons, Agusta International, and Dynalectron Corporation. He taught and supervised airplane and helicopter maintenance at U.S. Air Force Bases in Viet Nam, Japan, Iran, Saudia Arabia, and Yemen. In 1968-69, his family joined him at the Misawa Air Force Base in Japan. He was a high ranking Department of Defense contractor with Officer privileges on American military bases. In 1990, while in Saudi Arabia, Richard met President George H.W. Bush during a presidential visit to the Middle East. A Cold War Recognition Certificate signed by Ronald Reagan hung proudly above his desk. Richard also had special assignments in other countries, and often said he has been around the world the equivalent of three times. Richard was a member of the V.F.W., and American Legion posts both in the U.S. and abroad including American Legion China Post 1 - Soldiers of Fortune Worldwide.
His family enjoyed listening to Richard’s fascinating stories about his international travels, and colorful family history. He was proud to be descended from Revolutionary War soldiers and early California Gold Rush pioneers. His children have fond memories of Sunday drives throughout the California foothills exploring historical towns, cemeteries and stopping to read Historical Landmarks. He was a member and Past President of Native Sons of the Golden West Stockton Parlor # 7.
After retirement, he returned to the United States and settled in Stockton. In his later years, he enjoyed keeping busy by working in the ticket booths for the Stockton Ports and at U.O.P. sporting events. He was a big fan of many sports, and won the Stockton Record’s football prediction “Beat the Experts” contest several times. Richard kept a careful eye on local politics and important issues, and became a frequent contributor to the Stockton Record’s Letters to the Editor. He also enjoyed entering sweepstakes as a hobby, and won many prizes. He was a lifelong avid reader.
As Richard’s health declined in the last year of his life, he moved in to his daughter Patti’s home in Ripon where he enjoyed loving care and attention.
Richard is survived by his three children: Sheryl (Joe) Pimentel of Manteca, Patricia “Patti” Wilbur of Ripon, and Frank (Margaret) Gibson Mahaffey II of Salida. His seven grandchildren include Jerod Pimentel, Marissa Pimentel and Joseph Pimentel III all of Manteca; Dr. Andrew (Laura) Wilbur of Seoul, South Korea, Ian (Laura) Wilbur of Ripon; Michael Mahaffey of Salida, and Shannon (Michael) Mahaffey-Leon of Modesto. Great grandchildren include Jace, Jiana, Jaylee and Jessalyn Pimentel; Naomi, Owen and Emme Wilbur; and Sophie Leon.
He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Suzanne, and his sister Mary Jane Mahaffey Poulk.
At Richard’s request, services will be private. Donations in his memory may be sent to Native Sons of the Golden West Stockton Parlor #7, Historical Preservation Foundation, P.O. Box 692151, Stockton, CA 95269.
Burial will be at Stockton Rural Cemetery where four generations of his family are laid to rest.