On Sept. 29, 2018, our husband, father, grandfather, son and brother, Colonel Richard Alan “Rick” Searfoss passed away at the age of 62, in Bear Valley Springs, Calif.
He was born June 5, 1956, in Mount Clemens, Mich., to Mary K. Spencer and Stanley Gerald “Jerry” Searfoss. His mother preceded him in death in 1978. Rick grew up living on military bases but considered Portsmouth, N.H., his hometown. He graduated from Portsmouth Senior High School where he played soccer and ran track. Rick received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the United States Air Force Academy in 1978, and a Master of Science degree in aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology on a National Science Foundation Fellowship in 1979. As a commissioned Air Force officer, Rick attended various other colleges, schools and pilot training.
Serving for 20 years in the Air Force, he was a fighter pilot, test pilot and NASA Space Shuttle commander. Rick had a distinguished career, highlighted by many honors: The Harmon, Fairchild, Price, and Tober Awards (top overall, academic, engineering and aeronautical engineering graduate), United States Air Force Academy Class of 1978, the Air Force Aero Propulsion Laboratory Excellence in Turbine Engine Design award, and the USAF Squadron Officer’s School Commandant’s Trophy as the top graduate.
Rick was a Distinguished Graduate, USAF Fighter Weapons School (“Top Gun”) and recipient of the Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, NASA Spaceflight Medal (3), NASA Exceptional Service Medal, NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, and Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross and the Legion of Merit. Among his many achievements, Rick was proud of his Eagle Scout award. After retiring from the Air Force and NASA, Rick continued to pursue his passions for flying and space exploration as a professional speaker, serving in executive level positions in the aerospace industry, and as a test pilot instructor.
Rick married Julie McGuire of Glendale, Calif., in the Los Angeles Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1980. Together they raised three daughters. Rick’s Air Force career took their family to England, Idaho, Maryland and Texas. Prior to moving to Bear Valley Springs in 2001, the family also resided in Florida. Rick had wide-ranging talents and passions, enjoying running, cycling, scuba diving, soccer, radio-controlled airplanes and fine scale airplane modeling, backpacking, scouting, science fiction and fantasy literature, music, and photography, especially photographing the earth from space and his family.
A man of great faith in God, Rick served in his church in many capacities, from teacher to leadership positions, most recently serving as Bishop of the Bear Valley Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Rick was a servant leader, caring for those with whom he interacted in all aspects of his life. Rick dearly loved, and was loved, by his family. He leaves behind a wealth of joyful memories that will be cherished forever. Although we mourn his loss, our faith affirms that we will be together again through the grace of Jesus Christ.
Rick is survived by his wife, Julie; and their three daughters, Megan Furse (Devin), Elizabeth and Camille Long (Vance); four grandsons, Liam Richard, Duncan, Malcolm and Clark; his father, Stanley “Jerry” Searfoss; stepmother, Barbara Searfoss; sister, Deborah Armstrong (Jesse); and an extended family of in-laws, nieces, and nephews.
Funeral services were held on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Tehachapi. Interment with full military honors will be held on Nov. 30, 2018, at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.; further details to follow. For updates and RSVP information, please continue to visit www.woodmortuary.net.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made either to The Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, www.spacecenter.org, or to the Air Force Aid Society, www.afas.org, to honor Rick’s love of his Air Force and NASA careers and his service to others.
Wood Family Funeral Service was entrusted with his care. For condolences please visit www.woodmortuary.net.