Death of Melvin Duane Richey, Former Missionary to Congo and Zambia

Death of Melvin Duane Richey, Former Missionary to Congo and Zambia

Global Ministries shares News of the Death of Melvin Richey, Former Missionary to Congo and Zambia

1931 – 2011

Global Ministries was saddened to learn of the death of Melvin Duane Richey on July 25, 2011, former missionary to Congo and Zambia.  Melvin was born May 7, 1931, in Benton, Kansas, at his grandmother’s home.  He was the oldest of three children born to Byron and Elsie Richey.  By his second birthday, the family had moved to El Dorado, Kansas, where he graduated from high school. 

After high school, he attended Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma.  He enrolled in the Bible College and received his B.A.  Melvin was ordained a Disciple Minister at the First Christian Church in Ed Dorado, Kansas, in 1955.

While at Phillips, he met his sister’s roommate, Betty Cobble, whom he married in 1954 during their junior year.  Both graduated and while Betty taught high school, Melvin continued his education at Phillips Seminary.  He left Phillips to become co-manager of Inspiration Point, Arkansas, which was owned by Phillips University.

In 1958, they applied to be missionary builders with the United Christian Missionary Society, Disciples of Christ, presently known as the Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries.  Melvin had worked his way through college as a carpenter, electrician, and plumber and was very skilled in all areas.

They were accepted and were sent to the Disciples area of Congo in 1961, where Melvin finished work on the hospital at Lotumbe and built a chapel at the leper colony just outside this mission station. 

Returning for furlough, Melvin attended the technical school in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, where he became certified in small engines and diesel engine repair.  He was then sent to Mindolo Ecumenical Foundation in Kitwe, Zambia, to teach the Zambians how to maintain and run the water system, care for the buildings and the swimming pool and, in general, take over the running of the center from the missionaries.

Upon returning to the States in 1970, he was put in charge of all of the physical aspects of the Disciples of Christ’s headquarters on Downey Avenue, in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Melvin took care of the buildings until 1981 when he and Betty were called to be co-directors of the Tres Rios retreat center owned by the Christian churches of New Mexico just outside of Carlsbad, New Mexico.

The Richeys spent 15 years running and managing the Center.  Melvin did all the outside work, repairing pipes, repairing buildings, maintaining two swimming pools, dealing with state and government officials concerning water rights the center owned, and delivering meals down into the lunch room in Carlsbad Caverns for the Elderhostel groups they hosted.  He also dealt with all the plumbing problems for two dorms, kitchen and dining room as well as maintaining the groups, all with the help of two high school boys.

Retiring from Tres Rios, the Richeys became full time RVers and Workampers, volunteering in different National Parks , State Parks, and private parks for five years. 

Coming to Penney Farms Retirement Community in 2001, Melvin quickly became involved in the activities there.  He was on the board for six years, worked at P.E.T., worked in the wood shop and made most of the signs seen in front of the homes.  He also worked in the sound booth at Barrows Hall, sang in the Choir, Men’s Chorus, and the Penney Men, and served on the Penney Memorial Church board.

Melvin leaves behind his wife, Betty; three sons – Robin of Asheboro, North Carolina, Duane of Jacksonville, Florida, and Larry of Stevensville, Montana; four grandchildren, one step-granddaughter, and two great-grandchildren.  He will be missed by his family as well as by those friends who remember how he lived his faith through his work, not just by talking.

Condolences may be sent to Mrs. Betty Richey at P.O. Box 758, Penney Farms, FL   320079.  Memorial donations may be made to the Congo Protestant University Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 545, Penney Farms, FL   32079.