Ridley’s Athletic Lives of Distinction is a collection of stories about Ridley athletes who achieved greatness, then went on to use their sporting experiences to contribute to a better, more thriving—these days we would say, more flourishing—world. When contemplating such a collection, historian Paul Lewis cautioned that some of Ridley’s greatest achievers never had a chance to make their mark in the world, having sacrificed their lives in two world wars. Richard, who perished in World War II, is an example of how much promise was lost. Yet because of his willingness to fight against dark forces in history, our Athletic Lives of Distinction celebrates the contributions of so many Ridleians in the years that followed.
A great natural athlete, Richard won almost all the athletic laurels Ridley could bestow: Three Sports Day Championships (junior, intermediate and senior); Middle Weight Boxing champion; winner of colours in both gymnastics and hockey. He went on to study at Princeton University where his grit and athletic prowess earned him a place on the football team vying for national championships. But, the early 1940s were a time of global unrest and a time of great personal conflict for young Richard. His nephew, Bob Schmon, who has read his uncle’s journals from that time, notes that all of Richard’s Canadian friends—many of which would have been his Ridley mates—were going off to war and he wasn’t. He did not want to return to Princeton for his senior year, but rather join the Canadian Armed Forces immediately and serve. His teammates urged him to stay, advising him that America would soon be in the war. Since Richard had already successfully completed the Reserve Officer Training Corps programme, he could enlist in the army as a Lieutenant, and there would be much fighting left to do once he had joined.
Though tortured by the decision, he stayed on at Princeton, captaining the team with great distinction in 1942. He was the first ever Canadian tocaptain the Princeton varsity team. Richard was killed in 1944 while serving with the 313th Field Battery, a unit of General Patton’s famous Third U.S. Army.