Richard Squires never met a corny joke he didn’t enjoy – a lot.
His Uncle Torvald and Aunt Lena stories were the stuff of legend. For many of us, Mr. Squires disarming sense of humor is what we will miss most about him. All those jokes – and always delivered with a twinkle in his eye.
Mr. Squires died March 14, 2017. He was 86.
He had hundreds of jokes in his repertoire. He told and retold them often – much to the delight of family and friends, as well as the many concertgoers who attended performances of the Hughson Barn Band, Hilmar Community Band and the short-lived TOMB Band (Temporary Oakdale Municipal Band).
Humor was an essential element of this good-natured man, who would go out of his way to help people.
His Memorial Service will be held at 2 p.m. April 1, at Turlock Covenant Church, 316 S. Laurel St., Turlock 95380. Arrangements are under the direction of Lakewood Funeral Home. The family is in the process of establishing a music scholarship fund in the name of Mr. Squires.
Richard Allen Squires was born Sept. 21, 1930, in Oakland, Calif., to Frank and Mary Squires. He would grow to become a tall and lanky young man with a passion for steam engines, farm equipment, antique cars and music. He wed Dolla Mae Bergquist on May 14, 1955, in Oakland, Calif. They had been married for more than 51 years when Mrs. Squires preceded him in death on Nov. 7, 2006.
Mr. Squires is survived by his daughter, Margaret Squires; son, Martin Squires; daughter-in-law, Linda Fiorini Squires; son-in-law Michael Mooney; and three grandchildren, Rebecca, Jennifer and Jacob Squires.
After receiving his draft notice in 1951, Mr. Squires joined the U.S. Navy. He was a Ship’s Baker aboard LST 611 during the Korean War. He was honorably discharged in 1953.
While serving aboard LST 611, Mr. Squires discovered that by mixing blue ink with white frosting it was possible to create the blue frosting ordered for the Captain’s birthday cake. Mr. Squires always said the Navy made him a baker because he had worked as a butcher before enlisting.
Butcher, baker or candlestick-maker, it all was the same to the Navy.
In 1966, the Squires family moved to Hughson, Calif., where Mr. Squires spent previous summers working on his Uncle Hardy Erickson’s peach ranch. Mr. Squires and family eventually bought their own peach ranch on Mountain View Road.
Mr. Squires had a lifelong passion for antique cars, trucks and farm equipment. In 1972, he and five close friends — Francis Noeller, Percey Goesch, Harlan Segars, Jack Williams and Alton Rexin – founded Branch 6 of the Antique Gas Engine and Tractor Association. The group remains active today.
Mr. Squires continued to work as a butcher until 1976, when a back injury forced him to find a new line of work.
Blending his passion for music with his love of the mechanical, Mr. Squires reinvented himself as a band instrument repairman. He took a crash course in instrument repair at the University of Southern California and then opened his new business, “Squires Band Instrument Repair” in 1976 — “You bend ‘em. We mend ‘em.”
It did not take long for Mr. Squires to establish himself as one of the region’s best instrument repair technicians.
He routinely carried his instrument repair tools to a multitude of elementary, junior high and high school concerts he attended, where this pre-concert announcement became commonplace:
“Is Mr. Squires here? We need you back stage.”
In one incident at Los Banos High School, a rack bolted to the band room wall broke loose, sending a half-dozen sousaphones crashing to the floor. The damage left the horns unplayable. The school’s band was scheduled to participate in a marching band competition the next day. But the group’s usual repairman wasn’t available.
In desperation, the band’s director called Mr. Squires. He and his repair shop assistant at the time, Lois Logsdon, set up on a Friday and worked throughout the night, restoring all the horns to playing condition. They finished just in time for the band to participate in the Saturday competition.
Over the years, Mr. Squires was honored on multiple occasions by the Stanislaus County Music Educators Association. In 2006, the group recognized his then more than 30 years of service as the region’s top “Music Instrument Medic.” He devoted hundreds of volunteer hours assisting elementary, junior high and high school music programs.
When not repairing instruments, Mr. Squires put them to good use himself with a host of celebrated ensembles. He founded The Hughson Barn Band in 1976. The group dedicated itself to performing at convalescent hospitals and nursing homes, where many residents were otherwise unable to attend concerts. Today’s Barn Band is under the direction of Monica Silva.
Mr. Squires also was very active at his church, Turlock Covenant, where he held several leadership positions. He taught Sunday School classes there for more than 40 years.
In addition, Mr. Squires was a member of The Modesto Band of Stanislaus County for more than 40 years, performing mostly on tuba. He served on the MoBand Board of Directors for more than 25 years. In his spare time, he led a German-style Polka Band, complete with Lederhosen. The band always was in demand for Oktoberfest.
Speaking of German drinking songs, we’re reminded of a Torvald and Lena story.
The cantankerous couple was traversing the U.S. by train when Lena noticed a distillery, running full bore in the wee small hours of the morning.
“Torvald! Look at that! Now will you believe me when I tell you they are making it faster than you can drink it?”
Torvald replied: “Well, at least I’ve got them working nights.”