On Monday evening, December 29th at 9:10 p.m., our world momentarily stood still as our force-of-nature father, Richard Paul Dean, Jr., stepped into the presence of his Lord and Savior. Complicated, vexing and oft-times misunderstood, Dad firmly believed in God's gift of free-will. We often heard him say, "there are enough ways in the world for everyone to have one of their own." This was the rare sentiment with which our mother, Jeanette Mincey, was known to agree. The rest of us simply accepted it as explanation for his peculiarities that frankly, made no sense at all.

Richard was born on February 15, 1938 in Raleigh, North Carolina to Richard Paul Dean, Sr. and Alma Doris Tessinear Dean. Richard Sr. and Doris were hard working, multi-talented, passionately independent, self-reliant people. After the U.S. entered WWII, Richard, Sr. moved his young family to Portsmouth, Virginia where he worked as a master-welder in the U.S. Naval Shipyard. He served his country and provided a better life for his family, until a welding accident took his life in July of 1943.

After his father's death, Richard Jr. and his mother returned to her parent's rural Wake County home where he grew-up at the heels of his grandfather - Lonnie Andrew Tessinear -- learning farming, animal husbandry, and home remedies for animal and human ailments. His parents and grandparents modeled the importance of hard work, tenacity, and perseverance. These forged the conviction that no achievement was beyond the reach of hard-work and determination. And the understanding that life is hard, nothing worth having is free, and no one owes you anything. Life, by God's grace, is - for the most part -- what we choose to make of it. It is our obligation to make the most of what we have.

By his mid-teens, Richard, who at 6'8" looked much older than his age, had set out on and returned from many ill-advised adventures. Most involved close encounters with local law enforcement and their inability to catch him due to the superior horse-power of his latest hot-rod. A naturally gifted automotive engineer, he proved during the course of his adult life, that there wasn't anything that he couldn't fix (if it could be fixed) and nothing with wheels that he could not drive.

Richard worked a number of years with Pine State Creamery and Public Service Gas in Raleigh, North Carolina. Thanks to his brother Ronnie, the happiest years of his life were spent with Taylor's Nursery working and living on the Louisburg farm. He made a home, sunk deep roots there, made good friends and found in Mr. Taylor, Sr. the father figure he had missed since childhood. It is, however, undisputed that he gave Uncle Ronnie occasion to regret the introduction.

Richard is survived by his sister Jackie Chamblee and her husband Harry, and brothers, Ron Currin and wife Joy and Larry Currin and wife Sharon; his daughters, Lynette Dean Johnson and son-in-law Stephen Johnson, Melissa Dean Yates, and Paula Dean Williams (his name-sake) and son-in-law, Patrick Dean Williams; his grandchildren, Erica Taylor Yates Roberts and her husband Andrew Roberts, Nicholas Alexander Johnson, Meredith Hope Williams, Matthew Walker Johnson, Logan Max Williams and Patrick Williams, many special cousins, nieces and nephews and his Mincey sisters and brothers-in-laws. He loved you all deeply.

Richard was predeceased by his parents and step-father, John Edward Currin, as well as grandson, Christopher Lee Johnson. He was also predeceased by his "equal force-of-nature" former wife and mother of his children, Jeanette Mincey. Funeral services are planned for Friday, January 2nd at 6 pm at Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, North Carolina. Family visitation will follow immediately after the service.

The family welcomes flowers or memorial contributions to the Hephzibah Missions Fund, Wake County SPCA or charity of your choice.