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Richard F. Weeks Profile Photo
1950 Richard 2022

Richard F. Weeks

March 12, 1950 — May 20, 2022

The last chapter of the miraculous tale of prolific storyteller, philanthropist, and decorated Vietnam War veteran Richard F. Weeks came to a close on May 20, 2022, after a brief but difficult battle with lung cancer. Surrounded by family, Rick passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in Fulton, Kentucky. A native of South Troy and a long-time Albany resident, Rick Weeks’ boundless generosity, commitment to service, and capacity for wonder touched the lives of many in his community, and will continue to do so long after his passing.

Rick was a joyful man. Known for his sense of humor, he was always quick on the draw to tell a joke or share a funny anecdote. He would often delight and baffle his grandkids with his classic “detachable finger trick,” wherein he would appear to remove half of his index finger, and with great effort, stick it back on. Given that he was also a combat-wounded veteran who was actually missing the tips of a few fingers, it added real stakes when he pretended to have a hard time reattaching it.

A talented raconteur, he hated a conversational vacuum, always coming to the rescue with a quick, “Did I ever tell you about the time—” or a “Reminds me of when—” that never failed to get the ball rolling again. His comedic timing was unparalleled, and listening to him weave tales about his life and adventures never failed to draw in a captive audience. He was always so confident in himself, and in the stories he told. An avid writer, Rick authored five novels and countless short-stories, including such titles as The Two-Dollar Bill, Statues in the Dark & The Celebration, Jimmy, and God’s Miracle Child. He was also a proficient guitar player and songwriter, leaving behind beautiful music as a part of his legacy.

Rick entered this world on March 12, 1950, to the late Clifford Emory Weeks and Theresa Marie (née Bariteau). A graduate of St. Joseph’s School, Rick was a Camp Barker awards night champion, amassing a number of accolades over several summers. He played, and then later coached, Little League at Geer Field in South Troy. Throughout his childhood, he worked as a paperboy, and in his teenage years, at the Puritan Tearoom as something of a jack-of-all-trades, when, at seventeen years old, Rick voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Following basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina, he joined the 1st Battalion, 27th Marine Regiment at the Marine Corps Air Station in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii in the fall of 1967. After four months of tactical training, he was informed that his battalion was selected to participate in training exercises with forces from allied Asiatic nations. Once aboard the USS Vancouver, the regiment’s orders changed. On the morning of his 18th birthday, Rick was ordered into combat in Vietnam. On April 13, 1968, while securing a canal in the Quang Tri Province to recover the fallen, he was wounded by enemy fire. He survived, and was shipped to Okinawa to recover at the then-named US Army Hospital, Ryukyu Islands, and later smuggled to Camp David via Andrews Air Force Base due to anti-war protests, eventually finishing his recuperation at St. Albans Naval Hospital in Jamaica Queens, NY.

For his service, he was awarded a Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation for Extraordinary Heroism (1st Marine Div.), and the NYS Conspicuous Service Cross (1969) and Star (2006). He served honorably, achieving the rank of Corporal prior to his discharge on New Year’s Eve, 1968.

Shortly after leaving the service, Rick began his 36-year career with the NYS Department of Education, where he met the love of his life, Melody. At the time of his retirement in 2005, he worked as an exhibit specialist for the NYS Museum. Throughout his tenure he took pride in his contributions, and truly valued his relationships with his colleagues. A longtime labor activist, Rick’s commitment to workers led him to serve both on the CSEA Board of Directors and for two terms as Local 657 president, as well as in various other positions and capacities.

Rick always had the best stories, in part because remarkable things had a way of happening to him. He saw the Beatles play live at their legendary concert in Shea Stadium in 1965. He met three US Presidents, and was invited to the White House twice. In late August of 1969, he happened to be heading to a party in New York City, and due to gridlock on the NYS Thruway, he ended up attending Woodstock entirely by accident. He once met Jackie Robinson in an elevator.

Rick dedicated much of his time and effort to improving the lives of veterans. As NYS Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart from 2005-2007, he testified before the NYS Assembly on Veterans Affairs, stressing the importance of keeping VA hospitals open in opposition to the Draft National CARES Plan. He also earned a verbal commendation from US Rep Sue Kelly for his efforts on House Resolution 419, recognizing and supporting the efforts of the State of New York to develop the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor. He worked with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on the Perpetual Purple Heart Stamp Act, a bill to provide for the issuance of a "forever stamp" to honor the sacrifices of the brave men and women wounded in combat. In addition to his work with the MOPH, he was also a member of the Tri-County Council of Vietnam Era Veterans, the secretary for the NYS Council of Veterans Organizations, and served as Vice Chair of the CSEA Standing Veterans’ Committee. In 2004, he was asked to serve as the Grand Marshall for Albany’s Memorial Day Parade, which was pretty neat.

The man squeezed so much life out of his 72 years, and he cherished his friends and family every step of the way. In addition to his parents, Rick was predeceased by his brothers James, Daniel, Leroy and Dennis, as well as his lifelong friends, the late Michael Romeling, Keaven Green, and Tadeusz (Ted) Prach, and his dogs ROMZEE and Spot. He is survived by his treasured wife of almost 42 years, Melody L. Weeks; his beloved children, Jamie L. Weeks, Jeremy R. Weeks, April D. VanWagner, Robert G. Berry, Michele M. Harris, and Stacy Vazquetelles. He was a cherished grandfather to Ryan, Olivia, Emma, Evan, Zachary, Madison, Katrina and Saraya; and a loving great-grandfather to Jayda and Jax. An esteemed brother to Sandra, Geraldine, Pamela (Penny), Kevin, Kimberly, Dale, and Raymond, and was deeply loved by countless wonderful cousins, nieces and nephews, and friends.

Rick had of way of imbuing magic into everything he did. He would, upon seeing a grandkid stare longingly at a gumball machine, purposefully mumble something under his breath, and when prompted to repeat himself, he’d say, “Well, of course you can’t hear me, you have something in your ear!” and he’d reach out— there!— a shiny silver quarter for them to use. He’d do that for a lot of things folks needed, seemingly conjure it for them out of thin air. Generous doesn’t begin to cover the depths of his altruism. The maxim goes, “Give until it hurts,” but it never hurt Rick. He’d give and give, and never flinch to give some more.

Speaking of giving, Rick was also a man of deep and profound faith, and his identity as a Christian compelled him to give to a wide variety of tremendous causes like the Wounded Warrior Project, Planned Parenthood, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign. As a member of New Birth Temple, a nondenominational church, he would have been so touched by any and all donations to his place of worship.

It’s always difficult losing a person like Rick Weeks; it means the world is a little duller without him— there’s a little less magic to go around. The only thing for it is to do what you can to bring back some of the joy we lost with him. Be kind to a stranger, channel a fraction of his generosity and give to those in need, make sure the people in your life know that you love them. It’s up to each of us to take up the work Rick left behind, to make the world a kinder, more loving place.

That is, with the exception of famed TV-actor William Shatner, with whom Rick shared a lifelong feud. When asked what William Shatner did to invoke his ire, he would reply simply, “The man knows what he did.”

A memorial service in celebration of Rick’s life will be held at Russell Sage College, Bush Memorial Hall, 50 1st St, Troy NY on Sunday, August 7, 2022 at 12:00 PM. In lieu of flowers or gifts, a donation to Rick’s church would be appreciated. Please make checks or money orders payable to Greer New Birth Temple at 105 East Clay Street, Clinton, KY 42031. 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Richard F. Weeks, please visit our flower store.

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