Richard John “Dick” Christopher passed away November 11, 2023, a Saturday evening, in the caring embrace of his family and compassionate administrations of St. Joseph Hospital’s medical team. He is survived by his children, their loving spouses, and a growing legacy of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Dick was born in Great Falls in 1936, stories involving twin best friends Larry and Garry Wunderwald, some M80s, and GFHS Football Field ended in shattered windows. Later, a ‘49 Buick with surprising speed in second gear may have been raced between stop lights. Speed, it seems ran in the family. Richard’s father, RJ, would often invite Dick along to “test” the new Cadillacs at Rice Motors. One incident almost ran over a herd of cattle on the road. Another “test”, ended with Dick thrown from his seat and RJ with a steering wheel in his hands. Future “tests “were conducted at slower speeds. These stories, however, belie, the life of honor and integrity Richard led. Starting early, Dick nurtured a sense of duty. His fascination with chemistry and meaningful mentorship in a clothing store traveled with him to the School of Pharmacy at the University of Montana (then Montana State) in 1954. Richard picked the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, and then after a freshman English class and a Greek mixer Corinne “Keenie” Cone picked him out. After a first date enjoying a soda, Dick was smitten. There began an affection that deepened into an epic 53-year love story. Keenie went to work at the Mercantile to help him through school, and he spent the rest of his days saying thank you in a million little acts of kindness. This bond would anchor generations, teaching them the meaning of love and devotion. From this union came Kim, a dog named Prince, a convertible, and a trip to El Paso for training in the Army National Guard. There Dick learned Missile Defense Systems he would later practice with a bunch of “farm kids who knew their stuff” in a great artillery unit out of Lewistown. Returning to Missoula brought the joy of a son, Jeff, and the disappointment of career plans dashed at Missoula Drug. Serendipitously, Dick and Keenie took a job in Polson with Cal Hubbard’s Pharmacy on Main Street, beginning a 40-year partnership and one of Dick’s greatest friendships. Sharing a common ethic of integrity in business, and dedication to employees and customers alike, Cal and Dick worked long hours at the store and longer hours at the hospital and nursing home. As they filled prescriptions they dispensed wisdom, both in technical application and in holistic care.
Service and faith mattered to Richard. Service to his wife, his kids, his church, and his community and his unwavering faith in God. Faith ordered his life and grounded his philosophies. This selfless desire to help others was present even in his darkest hours. He always wanted to help. To this end, Dick supported the Elks, Jaycees, Lions, Rotary, and most of all his church. 1968 brought another son, Courtney to their new house on Hillcrest, which would, here after, provide the gravitational center of family. Another five years brought a beautiful baby girl, Tiara, and the purchasing of Harbour Pharmacy from Cal. Day by day he constructed a life built on love, faith, and hard work. He put four kids through college, and helped with spouses, and grandchildren when their needs arose. Dick laid the financial and emotional bedrock that supported lives wrecked by divorce. He took in the homeless, gave to the poor, and supported the sick. Family, friends, churches, and Polson were benefactors of his largess. He was a rock in the storm. He would listen and help. They won’t write histories about his greatness, though they should, because those recount dramas and conflict.
Instead, Dick mitigated problems before they developed through forethought and integrity. He built structures of trust and devotion out of unrelenting kindness, and steadfast loyalty. Dick was a paragon of virtue. He did it right, every day. It was a discipline buried deep in his soul. Though history may overlook reliable decency, society and his family were built on this sturdy foundation. Richard was the kind of man people aspired to be and his presence was so much larger than his physical appearance. As his children and grandchildren brought others home, Richard became Grandpa to many generations. When Keenie got sick he saw her through highs of remission and the lows of metastasis. He carried her home from St. Patrick hospital, and after burying the love of his life, he decided, instead of lament for lost years, he would celebrate the time he had with her, punctuating his gratitude in the oft told faith-based comment “that’s a thank you God”. Dick concentrated on the blessing of 53 years. He focused his goodwill on his children, helping them through their troubles and supporting their ambitions. He remained active in the church as an Elder, and as a provider of Meals on Wheels. His was a life of service, kindness, devotion, faith, and gratitude. He will be missed.
Richard was preceded in death by his parents RJ and Almira Christopher, his sister Margie Rae (Harry) Britton, and his beloved wife Corinne “Keenie” Christopher.
He is survived by his daughter Deborah “Kim” Christopher and her sons Nick (Lisa) Janeway, Remington Christopher-O'Conlough, Isaac Christopher- O’Conlough; his son R. Jeffery Christopher (Julie) and their kids Amber Nolan, Crystal (Ashley) Walker, Cole (Shantelle) Davis, Bryn (Jake) Metcalfe and Jacey Christopher; his son Courtney (Renee) Christopher and his daughter Kaleigh Christopher; his daughter Tiara (Justin) Knowles and their sons Roman, Ramsey, Christian, Hunter; great - grand kids: Richard Chavez, Jenisce (Tomas) Monterrosa, Daniel Chavez, Alyssa Janeway, Zevan Walker, Zoe Davis, Ziya Walker, Raine Nolan, Kamiah Davis, Jaxton Christopher, Oakes Metcalfe and great-great grandkids, Aiden Monterrosa, Link Pell, Everly Monterrosa, Alaya Chavez as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Dick’s celebration of life ceremony will be held at the First Presbyterian Church in Polson Montana, December 15, 2023, at 11am. Burial with military honors will be at 2:00 pm at Lakeview Cemetery. Gifts are not necessary, but if you care to donate to either the First Presbyterian Church, Glacier Church Camp, Greater Polson Community Foundation, or a charity of your choosing, that will honor the life he led. The family would also like to thank St. Joseph Assisted Living for their incredible care for the last year of his life.