Richard Stiffler: a long life is a life well spent
"A long life is a life well spent."
These wise words are said to have been written by Leonard da Vinci. The Stiffler family will find it a fitting description of their father, Richard Stiffler, who passed away September 13, 2023, one month short of his 95th birthday.
Richard Stiffler was the beloved patriarch of a family that included his wife Rita and eight children.
He grew up in central Rockford, IL, and graduated from Rockford East High School.
Not long after, he married Rita Wickson, followed by the birth of eight children: Steve (deceased), Cyndy, Gene (deceased), Bill, Howard, Ann, Patty and Ellen. Steve passed away just a few hours after his father.
Richard believed in family values and hard work. He was the owner of two gas stations in Rockford, manager at Beloit Pinehurst Dairy, owner of a Maid-Rite Restaurant and finished his career working in maintenance at Hononegah Community High School in Roscoe, where seven of his children graduated. Steve, the eldest, was a graduate of Auburn High School in Rockford.
“We lived on Forest Avenue in Rockford for several years. Mom wanted to live in the country,” daughter Ann Stiffler Campos said. In 1966, the family moved from Rockford to a small, remote home on 3 ½ acres of trees and wildlife in Roscoe. “Dad actually thought it was too big!”
As the years went by, the family acquired three horses and built a small barn on the property.
“Dad was easy-going and unassuming. He had a great smile. He was a gentle sweet man, and was as steady as a rock,” Ann said.
“Dad was a child of the Depression. Money didn’t impress him. Growing up, we never felt poor or neglected. Mom was the money manager. She had pay envelopes for utilities, clothing, food and emergencies.”
“Dad lived on the property for 55 years. Mom passed away in 2015. Dad continued to live there for another eight years,” Howard said.
“He was determined to do most of the work himself. It was hard to get him to let someone else do anything. He shoveled snow, mowed the lawn, and constantly picked up lots of chestnuts all over the yard. We caught him on the roof of the house when he was 93!”
“Dad and I loved to go to auctions,” Ann said. “He influenced my love of vintage and antiques. He was a big Rockford history fan and had a large collection of old postcards.”
“Dad was very self-sufficient. In the early 90’s he slowed down a little. Near the end, he was diagnosed with lesions in his brain and stage 4 lung cancer. He didn’t seem to be in any pain. All day and all night, one of the kids was with him.” Richard passed away after five days in home hospice.
“He didn’t want us to have to take care of him,” Ann said. “We were so lucky to have him for so long. He went just the way he wanted. We were all here with him.”