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Richard Lauri Neva passed on peacefully from this life in the early hours of Monday, February 21, 2022, in the Alzheimer’s and Memory Care Neighborhood at Sunrise of Cascade in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In retirement he lived the better part of 16 years in Norwich, New York from 2004 until late 2020. He previously resided in Muskegon and Sparta, Michigan.

Born in Duluth, Minnesota, he is preceded in death by his beloved parents Armas L. Neva and Louise (Jeanette) Neva. He is survived by his children Addison (Meena) Neva, Rachel Neva, and Damien (Ula Bochinska) Neva, and four grandchildren Kavi, Sachi, Mira, and Bruno.

Richard attended Wickliffe High School in Wickliffe, Ohio and graduated with the Grosse Ile High School class of 1959 in Grosse Ile, Michigan. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from Northern Michigan University in 1966, Richard continued his post graduate studies in a PhD program in theatre at Michigan State University. By 1969 he earned his Master of Arts and finished all but dissertation. Richard also earned secondary teaching certification in the summer of 1970, though never flourished in education apart from stints in substitute teaching. Richard later retired after more than 20 years working for the Michigan Department of Corrections as a resident unit officer.

Possessing a wry wit and an undeniable charm, Richard is described by many who knew and cared for him as a sweet guy. He could also be stubborn and wildly opinionated, much to the consternation of those who loved him.

Blessed with an insatiable creative drive wedded to a DIY ethos, Richard’s abilities in welding, carpentry, leathercraft, and general contracting served him in good stead over many projects throughout his lifetime.

A deep appreciation of music that transcended genre and age belied a man of his generation. For the better part of the 1980s and 1990s his musical passion was firmly rooted in heavy metal and the burgeoning black metal scene of Scandinavia. It was from this period the title “Richard the Rocker” emerged and follows him affectionately into posterity.

He spent much of post retirement time honing collections of die-cast cars, dolls, model trains, and of course music. He will also be remembered for his love of cars, in particular his Chevrolet Corvair, a 1950 Lincoln, but especially his 1991 Ford Mustang GT, which in its pomp sported the vanity plate MAD DOG, his trade moniker.

A character to the end, he will be remembered fondly. The family will gather in Michigan later this year to celebrate his life.

To send a message of sympathy to the family, sign Richard’s online guest book, or to share a favorite memory, please visit:

Cremation arrangements are entrusted to Michigan Cremation & Funeral Care, Grand Rapids, 616-452-3006.


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