Richard E. Chapman

Richard E. ChapmanRichard Earl Chapman passed away Aug. 7, 2019, in Winterhaven, Fla.,with his three sons and his two siblings at his side. He was 78.

Richard was born Dec. 24, 1940, to Bonnie Bess Branch and Earl Henry Chapman of Charleston, Ark. After spending some time in Arkansas and Texas, Earl and Bess moved their family to California, where Richard graduated from University High School in West Los Angeles in the year 1958.

The right age at the right place in the right time, Richard enjoyed the burgeoning “car-culture” of 1950s Southern California, going to drag races on Saturdays with his best friend Lee, founding a car club while studying acting at Santa Monica City College and even proudly owning a 1956 Corvette. He fueled his hobby with funds earned at a job with Douglas Aircraft.

Alas, cruising in his Corvette, car clubs, Saturday afternoon drag races and acting would not prove to be Richard’s true calling. On Feb. 2, 1963, still in his young 20s, he married the love of his life, Eleanor Ciminelli. Together, they started a family of their own. And with his newfound responsibilities, Richard changed the trajectory of his life. Completing barber college in 1964, he began his lifelong profession as a barber.

A newlywed with a newborn son and a newly launched career, Richard had found his calling. He became a devoted and loving family man and an old-school, world-class barber not afraid to use a straight razor, a rare breed these days.

For more than a decade, he cut hair alongside four other barbers in a busy barbershop on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica. However, desiring a smaller-town atmosphere to raise their family, Richard and Ellie relocated to Ridgecrest in 1978. Following the move, Richard began cutting hair in the barbershop located at the Naval Weapons Center, alongside his friend Dave, who also hailed from the barbershop in Santa Monica.

In 1981, however, Richard opened his own shop, called RC’s Barbershop, where he worked alone. He always said he liked running his own barbershop because it gave him the opportunity to have weekends and holidays off with his family. Otherwise, he rarely missed a day of work and earned a good, honest living. Indeed, Richard cut countless heads of hair while standing behind his barber chair in his shop. And although the location of the shop changed a couple of times, RC’s Barbershop became a Ridgecrest landmark of sorts.

Richard enjoyed raising his family with Ellie in the small-town atmosphere of Ridgecrest. Highlights for him included watching his boys march in the local parades with the schools’ marching bands, backpacking the Eastern Sierra with his boys in the Boy Scouts, calling bingo at the Senior Center (Ellie was an avid bingo player) and going to the movies with his family.

He was an easygoing man with an open mind and an equally open heart who liked backyard barbecues, Sunday football (Go Raiders!), all kinds of music but mostly country and all kinds of movies but especially westerns. He was a loving husband, a caring son-in-law and a good dad.

Together, he and Ellie enjoyed a marriage that blossomed with love for more than 50 years, until, sadly, Ellie passed in 2013. Shortly after Richard retired from his successful career as a barber and left Ridgecrest, his adopted home town, to be closer to family.

He is survived by his three sons, Ken, Dave and Chris; grandchildren Sienna, Dylan, Timmy and Emily; great-grandchildren June and Aldo; brother Joe; and sister Margaret Sue.

Richard will be missed dearly.

— Submitted by the family of Richard Chapman

Story First Published: 2019-09-06