Published December 13, 2021
Published December 13, 2021
Died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family, on December 4, 2021. Born in Savanna, Illinois, on November 11, 1928. Loving and devoted husband of Jean (nee Powell). Caring father of Glenn (Maggie Steingass), Bruce (Tina Hogue), James (Sima), Robert (Jennifer McQuarrie), Charles (late Theresa Kanabe), Richard (Claire), Scott (Valentina Antonova), Thomas, Jeanie (John Ogilvie) and Julia (Wray Baxter). Proud grandfather of nineteen grandchildren. Predeceased by his parents William Glenn and Elisabeth (nee Potratz) Warnock and by his four brothers William “Bob”, Stephen, Thomas and John.
Dick grew up on a farm in Mount Carroll, Illinois, the second youngest of five boys. His youth was filled with farming chores, 4H, and boyhood adventures with his brothers. The farm and surrounding countryside imbued in him an early love and respect for the natural world. He was a keen observer of all flora and fauna, with a particular interest in birds. The Great Depression and the values of his farming community were also strong influences, as was his father, a highly respected teacher of agriculture at the local high school.
Dick graduated from Mount Carroll High School as class president and valedictorian in 1946. He subsequently received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at Monmouth College, followed by a master’s degree at the State University of Iowa in 1952. Later in 1952, he enlisted in the military, where he rose to the position of sergeant, the highest possible rank for a non-commissioned officer. Because of his education and his gift for teaching, Dick was made a classroom instructor by the military, but after teaching for a time he requested a transfer overseas. He arrived in Korea shortly after the armistice in 1953 but remained for a year to assist in the post-war reconstruction, working to help build schools across South Korea.
Upon his return to the United States in 1954, Dick took employment as a teaching instructor at the Colorado College in Colorado Springs. It is there that he met and fell in love with a young undergraduate studying electrical engineering, Jean Powell. Their first date in December – to watch a college hockey game – launched a union that would last more than 66 years. They were married on May 31, 1955, with the first of their ten children being born the following year. Later in 1956, the young family moved to Iowa, where Dick pursued his PhD in hydraulics, with a focus on drainage and water flow, at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. After completion of his postgraduate studies, the growing family moved to Pennsylvania in 1960, where Dick took a position at Lehigh University. In 1966, Dick was offered a position as a professor in the newly formed Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Ottawa, and he and Jean took the big step of immigrating to Canada with their then-family of eight boys. He would remain at the university until his retirement in 1989, serving several stints as department chair.
After living in Ottawa for several years, in 1970, Dick and Jean realized their dream of owning their own farm, purchasing property and building a house in Cantley, Québec. Dick and Jean were a true partnership in all endeavours. Their farming spanned beef cattle to Welsh ponies to St. Bernards, all as they pursued their love of a self-sufficient country life. Dick was a patient and supportive parent – whether teaching his children to ride a bike, milk a cow, plant a row of pumpkins, tap a maple tree or do their physics homework. His rigorous sense of fairness, along with his cheerful good nature, imagination, and quiet sense of humour, proved invaluable in raising ten children. He was a generous and respectful parent who encouraged his children to think for themselves and make their own choices.
A fan of classical music, Dick was also an amateur musician. He and Jean were founding members of the Ottawa Community Concert Band as well as the Seaway Winds of Cornwall and longtime members of the Parkdale Orchestra, Jean on trombone and Dick on euphonium or tuba.
In 1985, they moved a final time to a farm just outside Moose Creek, Ontario, where they spent their retirement years, continuing to farm. A lifelong observer of nature, Dick continued to exercise his curiosity, reading widely and simply observing the world around him. In particular, he was interested in researching and tracking the various streams and creeks of the Nation and Raisin River watersheds. His life was punctuated regularly with large family gatherings which brought him great pleasure. He took a strong interest in and was immensely proud of all his grandchildren. He loved to receive regular updates on all their exploits, large and small.
Dick was a quiet, gentle and humble man of seemingly infinite patience. He was strongly independent, with a strict sense of integrity and fairness. Blessed with an exceptional intellect and a wry wit, Dick had a never-ending curiosity for the wonders of the natural world. He supported his family in all their endeavours and was a deeply loving husband and caregiver to his wife Jean. He will be sadly missed.
In keeping with Dick’s request, there will be no visitation or funeral, and a private memorial will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to a charity of one’s choice.
“Love seeketh not Itself to please,/Nor for itself hath any care;/But for another gives its ease,/And builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.” -William Blake
“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” -Rabindranath Tagore
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