Richard Howard Tuma passed away at his home in Williams Bay, WI, on Friday, June 16, at the age of 76. He was born to Howard and Rose (Kranz) Tuma on March 30, 1947, and grew up in the town of Oceanside on Long Island, NY.
Richard’s incredible life and his impact are difficult to summarize. He was a man of many talents and interesting tales. He was helpful, humorous, and humble; his work ethic was like no other. He got his first job at age four picking up wood scraps at a construction site for a quarter and spent his high schoolyears working for Jazzbo the Clown at Jazzboland in Oceanside.
Shortly after high school graduation, Richard answered his country’s call and spent four years (18 months of that time in Vietnam) with the U.S. Army Security Agency, supervising radio teletype operators and equipment control. His ingenuity and building skills came into play when he was able to barter for enough scrap metal and wood slabs acquired over many months from a cargo ship in Saigon to build an eight-foot bunker, just in time to shelter several comrades and himself during the Tet Offensive of 1968.
Upon returning home he met his beloved Louise, a Minnesota girl who moved to New York following college. It didn’t take long for them to decide to marry, move to the Midwest to be closer to Louise’s family, and seize the opportunity to have Uncle Sam finance the college education Richard sought. He enrolled at the U. of Wisconsin-Stout and completed a degree in Industrial Arts, leading to a teaching position in the Beloit, WI, Public School System.
While teaching full-time as well as working part time for a residential contractor, Richard began working on his Mastersdegree in Traffic Safety at the U. of Wisconsin-Whitewater. In 1980, he was hired by the City of Beloit as a Police Management Analyst and in 1985 entered the emerging field of computer software and marketing, specializing in the public safety area. Richard held managerial positions with 9-1-1 emergency call centers in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin, culminating in a 10-year career as Director of Emergency Management for the County of Waukesha 9-1-1 call center. Richard formally retired in 2013 but continued up until the present to be in demand across the country as a consultant to districts setting up emergency call centers.
And yet, despite his many achievements, Richard would be quick to say that his family came first above all else. He was ardently devoted to Louise, and the two of them supported each other in all their endeavors. After his retirement they were inseparable, spending languid afternoons boating on Geneva Lake, relaxing with friends in their meticulously-kept yard, or their favorite thing of all: spending time with their precious grandchildren which often included walking to Bell’s for ice cream, filling up the bird feeders, and sharing stories about his childhood dog Spooky around the campfire.
Richard was known for puttering in the garden and around the house, “just resting his eyes,” and the many silly sayings that were hallmark to his wit. Ultimately, he led his life by putting others first and led his family as a man of great integrity.Richard will be remembered as the special role model that he was to his many colleagues, friends, and family.
Richard is survived by his wife Louise Rose (Kohout) Tuma, whom he married on March 20, 1971, at the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer in Montgomery, MN; his children Jennifer (Glenn) Theriault, Joseph Tuma, and Christine (Michael) Strong; grandchildren Collin and Katherine Theriault; Tyler Tuma; Madison, Emma, Olivia, and Mason Strong; sister-in-law Therese (Ronald) Amel; and brother-in-law Patrick (Carmen Cross) Kohout.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother Gregory Tuma; and granddaughter Clare Theriault.
A visitation will be held on Friday, June 23, 2023, at Toynton Walworth Funeral Home, 328 Kenosha St., Walworth, WI from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Saturday at 11:00 AM at St. Benedict Catholic Church, 137 Dewey Ave., Fontana, WI. Burial will follow at Roselawn Memory Gardens.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be given to: Open Arms Free Clinic, St. Benedict Church, or Arbor Day Foundation.
For more information call Toynton Funeral Home at 262-275-2171.