Richard Walts’ first alarm was when he was born, March 2, 1947 in Shelbyville, Indiana to Charles Robert and Mary Frances (Murray) Walts. Rich graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Shelbyville High School in 1965 and enlisted into the U.S. Air Force on June 20, 1966. He served on active duty in Germany, Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and at Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Michigan where he received an honorable discharge on January 23, 1973.
It was in Michigan where he met and married the love of his life, Linda, on August 11, 1973. He worked as a Public Safety Officer at the Tri-City Airport in Saginaw, Michigan before returning to Wurtsmith to begin his civilian career doing what he loved to do, be a firefighter. In 1977, a beautiful son, Patrick, came into Rich and Linda’s lives. God truly blessed them.
Rich went on to serve in various positions with the Air Force in Michigan, rising to the position of Assistant Fire Chief. While residing in Michigan, on his days off he was a volunteer firefighter with the Oscoda/AuSable Fire Department, co-founding director of the Oscoda/AuSable Volunteer Ambulance Service, a fire training administrator for the Michigan State Firefighters’ Training Council, and both he and Linda were active in the Oscoda Church of Christ where Rich became one of the charter deacons of the small congregation.
Upon his selection to assume the position of Fire Chief at Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma, Michigan became an image in their rearview mirror, as they traveled to Lawton, where for the next 12-1/2 years he served as a very dedicated Fire Chief to the post. He obtained new firefighting vehicles which completely modernized the entire fire department fleet. His efforts moved the fire department forward from a 2 station 36 man department to a 4 station 75 man department. He also obtained funding for the first fire station in over 50 years to be built on Fort Sill and a second station was built after he retired in which he also initiated the development. Again, Rich, Linda and Patrick became involved and very active with the University Church of Christ where Rich served as a bible class teacher, a deacon and in many other positions within the church.
While at Fort Sill, Rich became a part of the Oklahoma State Firefighters Association. He was asked to sit on the association’s centennial/memorial committee and served on the subcommittee which made the final selection of the beautiful sculpture which is the focal point for the State Firefighters Memorial Park located on NE 50th Street, just west of I-35. He remained active with the Memorial Committee, something that was very dear to Rich, even to his last days.
After retirement from Fort Sill, Rich took a position with the Oklahoma State Fire Marshal’s office, serving as an agent for many years. This brought on the relocation of him and his family to Edmond, where they became members of the Edmond Church of Christ. Rich has served as a deacon here for many years and was involved in several committees, as well as assisting with three special ministries, U R Special, The Kids’ Place and Hope For Haiti’s Children.
During his assignment with the State Fire Marshal, he pursued a degree in Criminal Justice and obtained his Bachelor’s Degree from Mid-America Christian University in Oklahoma City and his Master’s Degree from Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama. He also became an adjunct instructor at Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma City and the University of Central Oklahoma.
Rich would like for you to understand the honorary pallbearers listed on the program. As most of you know, Rich always had a funny comment, a smile and especially a love for the little children with whom he would come in contact. These were two main characters, (Sparky and Santa) among many, which he would portray throughout the communities in which he lived.
Richard Walts’ last alarm was on April 3, 2020. Rich was preceded in death by his father, Charles Robert Walts and his mother, Mary Frances Wood, and his sister, Julia Ann Coyle. He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Linda, and his son and daughter-in-law, Patrick and Kara Walts, Oklahoma City, OK; brother, Roger Walts, Ocala, FL; sisters-in-law, Barb, Cassie, Carol, Ellen and Jan; many nieces and nephews, cousins, and college adoption kids.
There will be a Memorial service for Rich on Saturday, June 27 at 2:00 pm at the Edmond Church of Christ, 801 S Bryant Ave., Edmond, OK 73034. It will be livestreamed at richwalts.webhop.org
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the following:
Oklahoma State Firefighter’s Memorial, 2716 NE 50th St., OKC, OK 73111 or
Online at: osfa.info/gift-shop/donations/
U R Special, 25 W 3rd St., Edmond, OK 73003 or online at www.urspecialedmond.org
Hope For Haiti’s Children, 12020 Southwick Lane, Cincinnati, OH 45241 or
Online at: www.hopeforhaitischildren.org
In Search of the Lord’s Way, 1321 E 9th St., Edmond, OK 73034 or online at: www.searchtv.org