Cover photo for Richard Alvarez's Obituary
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1946 Richard 2021

Richard Alvarez

1946 — February 12, 2021

On February 12, 2021, Richard Alvarez drew his final breath after a valiant fight with an illness which will remain unnamed, as it holds no place in his exceptional life story. He was given his well-earned final salute at the VA hospital in North Chicago, which he would certainly have seen as a great honor (Ooh rah! YUT!!) Richard was born on a crisp fall day, October 22, 1946, the youngest child of Alfonso and Mary (Romero) Alvarez. He was, much to the chagrin of his two siblings, Helen, and Daniel, universally regarded as the cutest of the three Alvarez children. His cute face, big brown eyes, and mischievous smile allowed him from early on to get away with shenanigans with his friends Jack and Tony in his childhood neighborhood of Genesee Street and Sherman Place. He attended Immaculate Conception School, where the nuns labored along with his parents to curtail his mischievousness. He was so well liked by the Sisters though, that they entrusted him to take the weekly church offerings to the bank for deposit every Monday morning. He went on to graduate from Waukegan Township High School, class of 1964. While in High School he excelled on the state-qualifying wrestling team. The team’s picture hung inside the main entrance of the East campus for decades. Outside of school activities, Richard enjoyed Scooping the Loop with what would be life-long friends Mike, Bill, Doug, and Jerry. In addition to the perpetual free lawn labor he and his brother provided their father, Richard earned his folding money selling shoes at Father and Son’s shoe store, and as a caddie at a Lake County golf course. One day, around the age of 16, whilst returning home on foot from a hot day of hauling clubs, a towel wrapped around his head and playing AM on his transistor radio, his eyes connected with a beautiful blond-haired maiden who lived on the corner. She was out catching some rays of sun with her sister as he happened by. The lovely young maiden’s name was Shirlee, and Richard eventually charmed her by singing her name to the tune of the popular 1960’s Frankie Valli song “Sherry.” They were married for life after graduation and enjoyed over 55 years of marital bliss. As was practice at the time, Uncle Sam threatened to come calling. Richard decided if he was going to be summoned to service, he wanted to be a United States Marine. Richard enlisted, earned the title Marine and ultimately achieved the rank of Sergeant. While serving in Vietnam he was awarded a Purple Heart. While still in the service, Richard and Shirlee welcomed their two children, Todd, and Tamara. After Richard completed his service, the family returned to their hometown on the shores of Lake Michigan to raise the kids. Richard attended College of Lake County, worked at OMC Johnson Outboard, and then Abbott Labs, from which he retired. Ultimately, Richard and Shirlee settled in Beach Park, Illinois where they together enjoyed keeping their home beautifully landscaped. It is impossible to talk about Richard without Shirlee as they enjoyed life so closely together. Over the years, they enjoyed so many friends and were active in many clubs, including Walk-N-Dodgers and Lake Prominader’s Square Dance Clubs, and the Chuck Wagon Campers Camping Club. Rich was a huge Chicago sports fan (Da Bears!) and would enthusiastically discuss all Chicago professional sport teams (except soccer). As a winter Texan Rich was very involved in all the activities at Blue Bonnet RV Resort, where he made many friends in his golden years. Rich was profoundly touched by his Honor Flight provided by the Lake County Honor Flight organization. That trip helped him find greater peace and he even went on to serve as a Guardian on a later flight. Of all the things he loved, he loved his family the very most and with his whole heart. Just talking about his grandchildren and great grandchildren brought a smile to face and he always went out of his way to be involved in their lives. Richard was an exceptional husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, and uncle. He leaves behind a legacy of loyalty and love and will forever be missed by those that were lucky enough to have him in their lives. He is survived by his wife Shirlee, son Todd (Helen) Alvarez, daughter Tamara Alvarez-Beaty (Christopher), four grandchildren Tammie M. Alvarez, Austin Beaty (Kelsey), Benjamin Beaty, Alyssa Adams. Three great grandchildren Nash Beaty, Romy Beaty and Rocklin Beaty. A sister Helen Renfroe, his brother Daniel Alvarez (Rosalind), sister-in-law Rosalie (Gary) Duffy and many nieces and nephews who were all very special to him from Illinois, Missouri, Texas, and Nevada. Rich was proceeded in death by his parents Alfonso and Mary Alvarez and brother-in-law Virgil Renfroe. The first visitation will be held on Thursday, February 18, 2021 from 4:00 until 7:00 p.m. at the Congdon Funeral Home, 3012 Sheridan Road, Zion, IL. The second visitation will be held on Friday, February 19, 2021 from 10:00 until 11:00 a.m. at the funeral home, followed by a funeral service at 11:00 a.m. Interment with United States Marine Corps Military Honors will follow at North Shore Garden of Memories, North Chicago, IL. Donations wished to be made in Rich’s honor may be made to Lake County Honor Flight (www.lakecountyhonorflight.org)
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