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Columbia Missourian

James Rich loved to bring a smile to everyone's day

By Shannon Robb
February 28, 2013 | 8:27 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA – When James Rich would encounter someone throughout the day, he would ask, "How are you this bright, sunshiny day?"

"(Life) was always shiny to him," Kay Rich, his wife of almost 20 years, said. "He always thought if you had a smile on your face maybe it would touch somebody."

James Ewin Rich of Columbia died Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. He was 81.

Mr. Rich was born on Aug. 10, 1931, in Fayette. He was an Eagle Scout and worked as a lifeguard in town as a teenager. Later, he joined the Army and graduated from Central Methodist College after returning home. During the Korean War, he served in Germany in the 18th Engineer Brigade.

His daughter Cindy Stalter said her family believed he had a desk job in the Army until discovering recently that he diffused bombs in Europe that remained from World War II.

"He was the kind of guy growing up that he didn't want anybody to worry about him," Mrs. Stalter said.

He was also selfless in daily life. 

"When he was sick, he was so apologetic that he had to ask other people to do things for him," Mrs. Stalter said. 

"He loved to do everything for everybody else," Mrs. Rich said. 

Mr. Rich helped take care of Mrs. Rich's mother for several years by cooking meals and delivering them to her, and he told his wife that he wanted to go out to help people stuck in their homes because of the Feb. 21 snowstorm.

"Even close to the end, he was always making sure that I got everything I needed," Mrs. Rich said.

Mr. Rich also loved outdoor activities, including camping. 

Mrs. Stalter recalled family bike trips to Washington, D.C., her father loudly cheering at her softball games and building ice rinks in their backyard when they lived in Michigan.

Mrs. Rich said that during trips to the grocery store, Mr. Rich would choose a stranger, and then make them smile.

"He was always happy, always trying to do things for other people, never thought of himself," she said.  

Mr. Rich is survived by his wife, Kay Rich; daughter Cindy Stalter and her husband, Rod, of Columbus, Ohio; son Jim Rich and his wife, Teresa Okada, of Utah; stepdaughter Kim Henley and her husband, Tom, of Texas; stepsons Kieth Zoellick of Florida, and Tim Zoellick and his wife, Melanie, of St. Peters; one granddaughter, Niki DeAndero; nine step-grandchildren; and three step-great-granchildren.

His parents, E.E. Rich and Maud Adkisson Rich, and his sister, Mary Elizabeth Rich, died earlier.

Services will be held in early April. Specific information can be found at a later date on the James E. Rich Memorial Page on Facebook.