It is with immense sorrow and broken hearts that we announce the passing of Richard “Richie” Van Swearingen of Chimayo, NM on the early evening of April 19, 2021. Richie passed away after lengthy illnesses while being attended by Cardiac ICU staff members at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, NM with his mother at his side. He had just celebrated his 51st birthday two weeks prior.
Richard “Richie” Van Swearingen was born at St. James Hospital, in the town of Butte, Silver Bow County, MT at 12:34 PM on Easter Saturday, March 28, 1970. He was the only child of John C. Van Swearingen and Vera Vigil.
Due to living in different states Richie attended many schools. He attended Emerson, Whittier, and Webster-Garfield elementary schools in Butte, MT, Radley Elementary School in East Helena, MT and Helena High School in Helena, MT Tonopah Elementary Middle and High Schools in Tonopah NV. Richie graduated in 1988 from Churchill County High School in Fallon, NV where he was selected as an alternate to a welding scholarship to attend Western Nevada College-Fallon Campus.
Richie was baptized and raised a Roman Catholic at St. Ann’s Church in Butte, MT and served as an altar boy at SS. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in East Helena, MT. He kept with the Catholic traditions of saying the rosary, wearing his scapular, praying, and having a lit candle in his room. His yellow rosary was constantly wrapped around his hands during his last days.
He was an active cub scout member in Eagle Mountain, CA where he once portrayed KISS’s band member, Paul Stanley, while in a cub scout skit. Richie was a born athletic. During his school years he participated in many schools sport: softball, basketball, and football. He was MVP for wrestling in high school. He also snowed skied, water skied, and even played tennis. Although he enjoyed hunting his most favorite pastime was fishing. He loved being in the mountains, near a river. His Aunt Shirley remembers how he would fish off the riverbanks so patiently compared to the rest of his cousins and how he would always catch the most fish.
He worked most of his life as a labor in various states. He always got great performance evaluations for his hard, efficient, and productive efforts. His four favorite jobs were, as a Fabrication Welder for SMI, welding rebar for constructions sites in Fallon, NV, as a Warehouse Distribution Clerk for Cyprus Mining Company at the Nevada Moly Mine Site, Tonopah, NV, as an Apprentice Butcher for Capitol Meat Block in Helena, MT, and as a Wildland Firefighter for the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Elko, NV
Richie was a collector. He collected old thing, rocks, knives, guns, and animals (especially snakes). When he was a child, his dog was a giant St. Bernard named Bo (Beauregard) his latest is his beloved KoCo, a pit bull mix. His two favorite coral snakes were Fred and Fred2. When placed on the ground to roam Fred would always stay close to Richie and follow him around.
He was extremely sensitive to people’s needs. A very generous and caring man. Sometimes to a fault. He would protect those who were being bullied, made fun of, or were being abused in any way. As his cousin Johnathan commented, “Richie always had my best interest at heart.” To both his brothers, Jami and John, Richie was their Hero. He would bring laughter to the people around him. His cousins Rayan and Jacob would crack up every time he used his Montana saying, “Holy Moly!” when something would take him by surprise. He was extremely proud of his family and had an immense love for them. Richie was loved by many and will be greatly missed
He was predeceased in death by his paternal grandparents, Dave and Kathern Van Swearingen paternal uncles David Van Swearingen and Robert Van Swearingen, Walkerville, MT His maternal grandparents, Amarante P. Vigil of Chimayo, NM and Augustina Pacheco Vigil Herrera of Buena Vista, CO, uncle Richard Vigil of Leadville, CO, whom he was named after.
Richie is survived by his children, daughter Kristina Thomas (grandson Avery) Reno, NV, daughter Echo Rios (son-in-law James and grandson Noah) Fallon, NV, son Richard J. Van Swearingen, Polson, MT, and daughter Nevaeh Van Swearingen, Chimayo, NM. His mother Vera Vigil, Chimayo, NM., father, John C. Van Swearingen (stepmother Karen Van Swearingen) East Helena, MT, sister, Cindy Walker, Butte, MT, brothers John Van Swearingen, Phoenix, AZ., and Jami Van Swearingen, Waddell, AZ. He is also survived by many other relatives too many to list.
To commemorate his death a rosary will be recited on Friday May 14, 2021 at 9:30am and a Mass will be celebrated at 10:00 am, both at Holy Family Catholic Church in Chimayo.
The Family of Richard Van Swearingen has entrusted the care of their loved one to the DeVargas Funeral Home of the Espanola Valley, www.devargasfuneral.com, 5057477477