Heaven gained a saint on January 13, 2017 when Richard “Dick” Wyant answered the Lord’s call of a good and faithful servant and passed peacefully into eternal life.
His spirit is carried on by his devoted wife of 64 years, his three children, eleven grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren, two surviving siblings, and an extended family of relations and friends from every walk of life. Dick believed in the words of Luke that tell us, “to whom much is given, much will be required,” and he lived his life by these words. He was a passionate believer in remaining optimistic, determined, and pushing through any challenge of life. He always seemed to have the words, wisdom, and experience that was needed at just the right time and he was quick to help anyone in need.
Richard Lee Wyant was born on June 30, 1929 at home in the Beech Hills of Knox County, Indiana to Walbert and Alberta Wyant. He was the second son born into this warm and loving family that would eventually include his four brothers, Denny, Doyle, Duane, Dwight and one sister, Diane. Dick loved farm life and the families of the Beech Hills and Monroe City. He stayed connected to his boyhood roots throughout his entire life and never forgot the place where he learned to work hard, love passionately, and laugh loudly. On July 3, 1952, he married the love of his life, Betty Kline and together they raised three children, Melinda, Denise, and Andrew. Dick and Betty have made their home in Vincennes, Indiana since 1959.
Dick was a member of the 1947 graduating class of Monroe City High School and received the E.M. Downey Memorial Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1988. After high school, he served in the United States Army from 1951-1953 where he was stationed stateside and in Trieste, Italy. He graduated from Vincennes University and Oakland City College with undergraduate degrees in elementary education. He went on to earn his Masters degree in education and school administration from Indiana State University and completed post graduate work in educational psychology at Ball State University and mathematics at Valparaiso University.
A deep believer in the power of education to change lives, Dick began his teaching career by teaching fifth grade in Mt. Carmel, Illinois. After four years, he and his colleague and life-long friend, Marion Battles, were hired by Vincennes Superintendent Glenn Bretz while standing on Bretz’ front lawn. He dedicated his first four years at Vincennes Community Schools by launching the special education program before becoming a mathematics teacher at Clark Jr. High School in 1964. He was an innovator in the classroom and seemed to live by the saying “it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission” when it came to “inventing” things to make learning and teaching less challenging and more engaging. During the late 1960s, he co-founded the HUB Teen Youth Center, a lunchtime and afterschool program that provided area teens with a safe place to gather and participate in tutoring and character building programming. A natural leader, he served as the president for the Vincennes Teacher’s Association and led the mathematics department as the chairman. He continued his commitment to teaching and mentoring youth until his retirement in 1994 and touched the lives of thousands of Vincennes students and young people over the years.
In 1990, he co-pastored the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Monroe City where he provided preaching and ministry for ten years. After his retirement, he continued his youth work until 2015 as a regular volunteer at the Southwest Indiana Regional Youth Village, a residential treatment center for at-risk youth. He also volunteered at the Good Samaritan Hospital from 2011 – 2015 where he frequently played his harmonica for guests in waiting rooms in addition to his volunteer duties. His dedication to service and volunteerism kept him active in community organizations as well through his long-term memberships in the Christian Businessmen’s Club and Gideon’s International.
A faith-filled man to the end, he was a very active member of the First Church of God since 1959. Richard served on many boards and dedicated his service over the years to the youth of the church through teaching Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and serving as the youth group leader. He also loved music, especially the old gospel hymns and he sang with gusto in the church choir. He loved to laugh and make people laugh and many remember him for his performances at church fun nights as “Bert,” his short-lived acting career on a locally produced late-night television show with John DeSanto, and a weekly radio show called Commitment.
Richard was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend. He loved people and sharing stories and jokes. He enjoyed time with family, traveling, reminiscing about his childhood, playing his harmonica, and restoring old farm tractors. He loved flower gardens, stained glass windows, ginger snap cookies, and home-made ice cream with freshly picked strawberries.
He will be greatly missed by his devoted wife of 64 years, Betty Wyant (née Kline); his loving children Melinda (Gregory Jansen) Wyant Jansen of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Denise Wyant of Vincennes, Indiana, and Dr. Andrew (Krystal) Wyant of Mt. Sterling, Kentucky; 11 adoring grandchildren; Brittany Chenault, Ashli Jansen, Tyson (Victoria) Wyant, Levi (Christin) Wyant, Haviland, Zoë, Juliet, Jude, and Josie Wyant, Shane (Brandy) Knoy, Amanda Knoy Ellerman; and 14 great-grandchildren Logan, Lindsey, Carson, and Dylan Chenault, Amélie Taylor, Alexander, Adaryn, and William Wyant, Landon Wyant, Jacob and Hannah Knoy, Claudia, Kainan, and Clara Ellerman. He is also survived by one brother, Duane Wyant of Pueblo West, Colorado and one sister, Margaret Diane (Jerry) VanLue of Danville, Indiana as well as nieces and nephews across the country. He was preceded in death by his parents, Walbert and Alberta Wyant and brothers Denny, Doyle, and Dwight Wyant.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Tuesday, January 17th, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. at the First Church of God, 1408 East St. Clair, with Dr. Georg Karl officiating. Visitation will be on Monday, January 16th from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Goodwin Funeral Home, 524 Broadway Street, Vincennes, Indiana. Memorial donations may be made to the First Church of God or The Gideon’s International at https://www2.gideons.org/
The family wishes to extend their deepest gratitude to the Deaconess VNA Hospice and Palliative Care Center in Evansville, Indiana for their support in his final days.