Celebrating the Life of Richard Dienst
On November 14, 2019 CLCC lost one of its most loyal supporters and program participants, Richard Dienst, to a motor vehicle accident. On November 21st, friends and family gathered to remember and celebrate Richard's life. CLCC Board Chair Cindy Hall was honored to say the following words in remembrance:
It is an honor to pay tribute to Richard today as we celebrate his life which has ended much too soon.
About 14 years ago, when Lynne Gustafson became the Parish Nurse for Emanuel, she heard a common theme from two moms about their adult sons - what was going to happen to them when they were no longer able to take care of them? The bond that Doti and I share as a parent to a gifted individual with unique needs brought us together to share these challenges of parenting. Lynne along with other concerned members of Emanuel and the wider community started an important conversation that planted the seeds of what we now know as Creative Living Community of CT. Doti and I knew that this shared community brought us, and other parents hope for the future.
As plans of CLCC began to take shape, Richard played a vital role in establishing a unique presence attending many meetings, events and activities. This is when I really got to know who Richard was and it gave me a glimpse into his world. He was always interested in what the plans were, who was going to which activity or what the menu might be for the Day in the Park or the Farmstead Fair or the Farm to Table Dinner. Richard was there to cut the ribbon at the Opening Ceremony of the greenhouse. He helped to make apple pies for a fundraiser and build wooden benches in the greenhouse when the orders increased, and we needed more room for the trays. He welcomed each new Greenhouse Coordinator and charmed them with his wit, words for the day and work ability. He welcomed and chatted with vendors at the Farmstead Fair. Richard was a great volunteer. From the very beginning of the greenhouse’s production of growing micro greens, Richard and Doti were there every Tuesday morning as well as participating in the Arts in the Afternoon program after lunch. Richard logged over 2000 hours of volunteer time just at the greenhouse and was the first CLCC ambassador delivering micro greens to the restaurants several years ago.
Most recently he spent time at the CLCC property checking on the chickens, learning about bees, digging in a pollinator garden to plant the best flowers and spent several weeks filling up mum containers with a mixture of soil. That job seemed endless, but he didn’t quit and helped get the job completed.
Richard was observant of others and I always marveled at what Richard had to say because he could articulate his thoughts into words and how his brain processed information. Curtis, my son, has very little language, but will come out with some good two-word phrases which would often make Richard smile. So much so, that in signing Curt’s birthday card this past September, Richard used Curt’s words and wrote in his card – “Now, listen!” Curtis - have a good birthday. He was very proud of his cleaver message and his well wish to Curtis. It is a sentiment that I will treasure.
Richard voiced years ago in meetings that people needed to be referred to by their name and their gifts and not their disability or label. Richard’s words were that of an advocate – a voice for those that could not speak.
The name Richard means brave. This word embodies how Richard lived his life with its many challenges, hardships and adversities. It was not easy for him to be in this world, but he found community in the people and friendships he developed through CLCC. It made all the difference for him. Richard will leave a large void in our hearts especially on Tuesdays at the greenhouse and when the crew goes bowling and to Dave and Busters. Let us know that Richard will be with us in spirit continuing to cheer us on. We have been blessed by his presence and may he rest in peace in the loving arms of our God and Creator.