Ralph Lee 'Buffy' Richardson
August 25, 2022
Buffy was raised on the high plains of the Havre/Chinook area. He spent his days pretending to be Buffalo Bill. At his young age, he had trouble pronouncing buffalo, so he became “Buffy” Bill, a nickname that stuck with him the rest of his life and later as “Papa Buffalo” by his grandchildren.
Buffy attended school in Havre. At the age of 17, after the death of a good friend in Vietnam, he felt the need to enlist in the Army. In February 1967, he did just that. He completed basic training in Fort Lewis, Washington. In April of the same year, he was sent to diving school in San Diego, but did not receive certification as the Army would not supply him the proper lenses he needed.
In January 1968, he deployed to Vietnam, arriving two weeks before his 18th birthday in the height of the Tet Offensive, a major escalation and one of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War. Buffy was attached to the 1097th, Medium Boat, 9th Division of the Mobile Riverine Force, as a coxswain. He was promoted to an E5 section Sergeant, operating a 65-foot boat and in command of 20 to 40 personnel on three boats with wing barges of artillery.
Buffy was honorably discharged from the Army in 1969.
Following his departure from the military, Buffy traveled throughout the country before settling in Butte, Montana, in 1974. There he met the love of his life, Jean Tritica. In January of 1975, he and Jean moved to Bonners Ferry, and they married in December of that same year. In his union with Jean, he gained a son, Steve, and a daughter Staici, whom he adopted and loved as his own. Ralee and Jessica completed the family. He loved his family unconditionally and was always their biggest fan.
Buffy worked as a logger for several years before expanding into road construction. He owned and operated his own business “Pygmy Logging and Road Construction.” Unfortunately, he was forced to retire in the late 90s due to health issues.
He built his family’s dream home on West Side Road in Bonners Ferry, known by some as “Buffyville.” Buffy and Jean lived there until 2000, when they relocated to Orofino.
In Orofino, eager to put his craftsmanship to work again, Buffy built a new family home from the wood he logged and milled while in Bonners Ferry. Buffy was a master of utilizing whatever was at his fingertips and had both vision and knowledge needed to complete the tasks at hand.
Buffy was an avid hunter, fisherman and trapper. He spent hours in the mountains. It was in the mountains where Buffy felt most at peace and home. His “big” buck in Bonners Ferry won a head mount and trophy. He landed a 30-inch pike in the Coeur d’Alene River, shot a buffalo on the plains of South Dakota, bagged a full curl bighorn sheep in the Snake River Canyon, and trapped a rare blue fox, which he also had mounted and added to his prized head mount collection. These mounts decorated the Orofino home until they were sadly lost in a house fire in 2017.
He was a kind and giving person who was willing to help anyone in need – from the orphans in Vietnam to family, friends or strangers. He would give the shirt off his back if necessary. He had the ability to talk to anyone and Buffy never met a stranger.
His exceptional quick wit and fun sense of humor always kept you laughing, and no one escaped without a nickname. His laugh was infectious, his heart big and his personality filled the room. They broke the mold when they made Buffy!
There are not enough words to say how much he meant to each of us: his wife, his children, his mother, his siblings, our family members, his lifetime friends and fellow veterans. We are all better for knowing him and being loved by him. No matter our faults or shortcomings, he supported, believed in and was proud of us. Buffy was the epitome of family, the glue that kept us together. Buffy fought his battles with bravery, grace and strength.
Buffy was one of a kind, never to be replaced or replicated. Nobody can fill the space that he held in our lives. There will always be a place at the head of the family table for him, as we keep his spirit alive through the many stories of him, hear the echoes of his laughter and remember what he meant to us. He will be missed beyond measure. Rest in peace until we meet again, Buff.
Buffy was preceded in death by his father, Cecil, stepmother Shirley, stepfather Bill, brother Wayne, sister Lisa, brothers-in-law Hank and John and several uncles, aunts and cousins.
He is survived by his loving wife and children Jean, Steve (Tara), Staici (Greg), Ralee and Jessica (Jeff). Grandchildren Nicole (Ryder), Logan (Kinsey), Adrian (Julia), Madison (Paul), Olivia (Gabe), Izabella and Jerin, great grandchildren Layna, Halle and Indy, mother Avis, sisters Nancy (Dennis), Neva (Leo), Cathy and Peggy, brother Steve (Tammy), sister-in-law Jo Anne (Brian), nieces Becky, Kristine, Brenette, Brenda, Sarah, Grace, Angela, Lucinda, Gabby, Kara, Amanda Jenny, and Renee and nephews Brian, Keith, Colton, Steven Lee and their families.
Mike Weland, Publisher
6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
A 9B Media LLC publication
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