Independence, Missouri- Richard (Dick) Horvatic completed his lifes work on December 7, 2021. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Saturday, December 18, at 11 am, at St. Anns Catholic Church, 10113 E Lexington, Independence MO. There will be a visitation from 9 to 11 am prior to the Mass. Internment will take place at a later date. The family requests that you please wear a mask.
Richard Lee, 86, a resident of Independence, MO, was born in Kansas City, KS, the oldest of six children born to parents Mildred (Millie) Payur and Andrew J. (Hank) Horvatic. He enjoyed Boy Scouting in his youth and graduated from Wyandotte High School, Kansas City, KS in 1953. After graduation he worked as a window dresser for Pecks Department Store.
His future wife, Charlotte Anne Zemaitis, was practically the girl next door, living up the street a few houses from his familys home. He was known in the neighborhood as a handsome and ornery fellow. Family lore says that he sent his sister to her door to ask for a first date. They were formally introduced at a wedding and were married at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, Kansas City, KS, on August 17th, 1957. Their family quickly grew to include 5 children in 7 years (did we mention they were Catholic?), Kenneth (Ken), James (Jim), Nancy, Susan (Susie) and Robert (Rob). They moved their family to Kansas City, MO, and Richard attended the Police Academy for the Kansas City MO Police Department, becoming a patrolman. An article from the Kansas City Star at that time, featured a story of how Officer Horvatic had to "arrest" a 9-year-old boy who had stolen and driven two different cars. According to the article, Richard got the child to pull over the stolen car safely, and then promptly took him to see the Police Captain, perhaps trying to impress upon the boy how serious the offense was. It also described how he bought the boy a candy bar before the parents came to the station to pick him up. In other words, Officer Horvatic was a softie at heart.
After some years, he was promoted to the Detective Unit, where he now would have to don a suit, tie, and hat, in the spirit of the Dick Tracy Comics. This work eventually led him to his lifelong work as a Loss Prevention Specialist, watching for employee theft, shoplifters, and customer safety issues, at the Sears Roebuck Store and Catalog Warehouse at Truman and Cleveland in Kansas City, Missouri. He came home nightly with interesting, funny, and dangerous tales to share around the dinner table. Following many years at Sears, he later worked in the same capacity for the Milgrams Grocery Chain and later for the Balls Price Chopper Chain, scheduling security officers and investigating store crimes. Even after officially retiring, he continued working as a part-time consultant helping facilitate the opening of new grocery stores.
As a parent, Richard was a Boy Scout leader with his sons troop and spent more than a few nights in rainy tents with rowdy boys, teaching the values of "doing your part", learning new skills, and "leaving the place better than you found it". He also helped Charlotte in her role as a Catholic School P.T.A parent, helping to construct booths for school carnivals and with other various projects. At Christmas time, he sang in the St. Stephens (now Our Lady of Peace) Parish Choir with Charlotte and the kids.
Richard was close to his parents and he and his father had a small woodworking business in the family basement. His father and mother often came over on the weekends to work together, the men in the basement and the women upstairs cooking for everyone. As interest in their products grew, they entered a joint venture, opening the "Wood Hut", a wood-working and craft business on Independence Avenue in Northeast Kansas City. Both his wife and all five children worked at the shop, learning to operate sanders, routers, and jigsaws, whether they wanted to or not. As it turns out, despite child labor laws that might have been violated, owning a shop, and working hard made them proud, strong and resilient, and the quarterly profits were always shared among all the family members, no matter their age, indicating that each ones work was valuable to the team. The children were especially tickled to watch their burly dad teach delicate decoupage brush techniques to the streams of ladies who signed up for lessons in the shop and bought wood products the family had made.
In the early years of the 1980s, at a time when there was a resurgence of interest in local cultural diversity and in "discovering ones roots", Richard and Charlotte joined several of Charlottes relatives to start up a folkdance group, the Kansas City Aidas Lithuanian Dancers. Although a full-blooded Croatian himself, he joined his wife in learning traditional dances from her Lithuanian ancestry, a pursuit lasting 40 years, growing to include some of their children and several grandchildren as dancers, and dancing over 300 performances locally, nationally, and internationally. Richard was a natural dancer and had a quick mind for picking up the dance patterns. He was also known for some memorable shenanigans on the dance floor and was a favorite among the other dancers. When the group developed a dream of visiting the country of Lithuania, it was Richard who came up with the idea of manning a booth at the KC Royals and Chiefs Stadiums to raise the money for the journey, so that no dancer had to fund the trip from their own young family budgets. Over two long ball seasons of selling peanuts and sausages in both the heat and the cold, Dick would always remind the group that it would all be worth it, and to "just think, a year from now, we will be eating sausages ourselves in Lithuania". And though he spoke not a word of the Lithuanian language, he managed to arrange stays in homes of dancers in that country and for the group to perform in the capital city of Vilnius and in the city of Kaunas. He always found a way to lead, make a plan and get things done.
Participation in the dance group led Richard and Charlotte to the role of representing the country of Lithuania on the Kansas City Ethnic Enrichment Commission (EEC), following in the footsteps of Charlottes brother Chuck (Kazys) Zemaitis and his wife, Margaret, the first Commissioners of Lithuania. The Ethnic Enrichment Commission, encouraged by then Mayor Richard Berkley, held its first Kansas City Ethnic Enrichment Festival, a Kansas City favorite annual event, which celebrated its 40th Anniversary in August 2019, featuring traditional performances of song, dance, foods, and crafts from countries around the world that have local ethnic communities.
After several years in this role, Richard and Charlotte not only represented their Lithuanian Community, but began to take on a larger role on the Executive Leadership Team, organizing, planning, and overseeing this large festival. Richard was the EEC Chair and Festival Coordinator from 1999-2001, and became the Festival Manager from 2002-2013, and the Festival Assistant Manager from 2013-2016. In 2016, the EEC voted Dick to be the Festival Manager Emeritus, so his name would forever be linked to the Festival. Over 55 countries are currently represented, working together as one team. Many involved in the festival have an image in their minds of Richard in his festival golf cart, moving around all three days solving a myriad of problems, a dog bite, a lost child, a cooking fire out of control, an electrical problem. Nearly every booth eagerly ran out to his cart with a plate of their special dishes to keep him fed and hydrated throughout the long days. What a gracious group of friends Richard came to know through the Ethnic Enrichment Commission.
While recognized for his leadership skills, Richard was probably best known for his sense of humor. Everyone who knew him has several stories of times he played a prank, found something funny when things looked bleak, or put them at ease in an uncomfortable time. See if any of these phrases bring anything to mind: broccoli-peach pizza, stolen hubcaps, stink bait, and variations on the theme of "pull my finger". Even as he needed special care toward the end of his life, he would often quip with a nurse giving him an insulin shot in the stomach, "Id like you to use the same hole you used yesterday. I dont want to start sprouting leaks all over the place".
Richard was preceded in death by: his parents, Andrew and Mildred Horvatic; his son, Rob (2018); his sisters, Cathleen (Don) Williams, Delores (Russell) Howard, Marilyn (Chuck) Harrington; and his brother, Ronald (Toni) Horvatic.
He is survived by his wife, Charlotte; his sister, Karen Stark; his sons, Kenneth (Patty) Horvatic and James (Terri) Horvatic; his daughters, Nancy (Joseph) Stegeman and Susie (Greg) Addison; his daughter-in-law, Beth (Scott) OMara; his twelve grandchildren, Adam Horvatic, Hilary (Jeff) Jackson, Jacob (Lindsey) Horvatic, Seth Horvatic, Benedict Horvatic, Christina (Michael) Main, Danielle Horvatic, Katherine McCauley, Bailey (Brian) Schowengerdt, Bray (Katie) Addison, Rachel (Bryan) Beggs and Caitlin Stegeman; and nine beloved great grandchildren.
The family of Richard Horvatic would like to extend sincere and deep gratitude for the care provided by the Third Floor Staff at Rosewood Care Center at The Groves in Independence, Missouri, especially through the long months of the pandemic closures. You were our cool cloths on the forehead, our care package openers, our encouraging voices, our joke listeners, and the ones who stood in our stead as we stood outside. Your kindness got him through it, so that we could have more time with him in person once again. We are forever in your debt.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to St. Anns Catholic Church in Independence, Harvesters Food Bank, or a charity of your choice. If you want to honor Richard, pick up a joke book, crack a smile, offer a hand (preferably with a trick buzzer in it).
Or make a friend with someone from a culture different than your ownRichard would love that.
Saturday, December 18, 2021
9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
St. Ann Catholic CHurch 10113 E LexingtonIndependence, MO 64050
Mass of Christian Burial
Saturday, December 18, 2021
St. Ann Catholic CHurch 10113 E LexingtonIndependence, MO 64050