Family & Friends
Jean Richter, L1, the wife of FMCA’s first national president, Bob Richter, and a major contributor to the formation and growth of Family Motor Coach Association during its early years, passed away at her home in Hanson, Massachusetts, on April 12, 2010. She was 83.
Jean and her husband, Bob, were instrumental in the founding of Family Motor Coach Association and were responsible for organizing the first gathering that led to the development of FMCA 47 years ago.
The Richters began traveling by “house car” — an early name for motorhomes — in 1962. Early in 1963, the couple read about a solar eclipse that was to be visible across a path in Maine on July 20 of that year. They decided to invite their friends and others who also owned house cars to join them in viewing the eclipse. In the invitation letter they sent, they also asked their friends to send in the names of anyone else who might be interested in joining them.
On July 20, 1963, 26 coach-owning families from eight states and Canada met on the grounds of the Hinckley School in Hinckley, Maine, to witness the event and to discuss the merits of forming an organization for house car owners. During that meeting, FMCA officially was formed with 18 member families; the Richters were the first, with family membership number F1.
With Bob as the association’s first president, the couple spread the word about FMCA to keep the organization going after its inception. The Richters also collaborated as the first editors of Family Motor Coaching magazine, publishing the first edition in February 1964.
“She was Bob’s right-hand man with regards to founding and promoting FMCA,” said daughter Susan St. Pierre. “Wherever my dad was, be it putting magazines together in our living room or setting up envelopes for bus meeting attendees, she was there doing at least half the work! They were a great team!”
Jean was born July 22, 1926, in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, and was graduated with distinction from Bridgewater High School and from Bridgewater State Teachers College. She and Bob began dating in high school, and they married during a garden ceremony in Bridgewater on June 15, 1948. Jean was an educator for more than 30 years, with 25 years of service in the Hanson schools as a fifth-grade teacher. In addition to her teaching work, Jean was active in the League of Women Voters and was involved in the Plymouth County Teachers Association, for which she served as parliamentarian. She also was a cofounder of the Friends of the Museum of Printing in North Andover, Massachusetts. She was an avid reader and a mystery buff, enjoyed listening to fine music, and donated to numerous causes.
The Richters owned two bus conversions and a motorhome and continued to travel until Bob passed away on December 26, 1993.
Jean is survived by daughters Susan St. Pierre (Robert) and Elizabeth Pagan (Tom); her sons William (Laura) and Robert (Elaine); 10 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and her sister, Susan.
Memorial donations in her name can be made to the Hanson Public Library Foundation Inc., 132 Maquan St., Hanson, MA 02341; or to the Norwell Visiting Nurse and Hospice, 91 Longwater Circle, Norwell, MA 02061.
Looking For A World Traveler
Family & Friends
By Mary Kay Fry
On April 21, 1964, following a shakedown cruise to Mexico, “RiKaJuJo,” a 35-foot, totally self-contained 1960 GMC 4104 bus conversion owned by my parents, Richard and Flora Graves, F404, was loaded aboard a ship in Los Angeles, California, to be delivered to the port of Mombasa in Kenya, Africa. On June 15 of that year, our family — my parents, brother, two sisters, and me — plus a driver/mechanic and a cook, arrived in Nairobi to begin a six-week adventure through Africa.
My brother and I had recently graduated from college, and our two sisters were still in school. Our journey included a hunting safari in Kenya and touring through Tanganyika (merged with Zanzibar to become Tanzania), Uganda, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), South Africa, and Mozambique.
The motorhome was named “RiKaJuJo” by my parents, using the first two letters of our names: Richard, Kay, Judy, Joanne. It had a dinette that, with an extension, seated eight and converted to a 40-inch-by-83-inch bed with a bunk over it. Opposite this was a settee that converted to twin bunks. The rear compartment also had a pair of settees that converted into two 40-inch-by-80-inch beds. The driver and cook slept in the “penthouse” on top of the coach.
This magnificent African journey was the first of many for RiKaJuJo. In fact, it was only after visiting 38 countries that she returned home to the United States. These travels took our parents (and sometimes one or more of us) through most of Europe; to India via Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan; through India; and, finally, to Japan. The coach was shipped back to Los Angeles from Japan. Metal enameled flags of every country visited encircled the coach, each having been specially made and then attached by my father on the day they entered a country. Can you imagine the logistics of making all these trips before the Internet age? My father was the consummate planner and executor. His life’s motto was, “Take no for a starter.” And what fun he had!
RiKaJuJo was sold in 1976, and both of our parents have passed away. Now, almost 35 years later, I think about that coach and wonder what ever happened to her. Where is she now? What does she look like? Where else has she been? I’m so curious.
If you know anything about this 1960 GMC 4104, I would love to hear from you (e-mail [email protected]). The mid-coach location of the door with its round window is a distinguishing feature and you’d know her, for sure, by her kind and dependable spirit!