Richard Peter D’zio: Charmed by his smile, thousands heard the Gospel

Tue, 11/25/2008 - 4:23pm
By: Letters to the ...

Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008, the world lost a giant among men. His name was Richard Peter D’zio. He was better known as “Richie” or Mr. D.

He may have been small in stature like Zaccheus of Bible fame (five feet two inches), but he towered over taller men by several feet. He was a giant sequoia tree planted amongst a stand of Georgia pine saplings. He was a granite boulder in a gravel pit.

His heart and love for people was unsurpassed by even the most compassionate person that has ever lived. He never met a man, woman, or child that he didn’t like. He could charm even those that at first weren’t open to him. Richie was “one of a kind.”

Richie was 87 years young at the time of his passing. He moved to Fayetteville about 25 years ago. A transplant from New Jersey, his parents were first-generation immigrants from Italy.

He was a WWII war hero. He had to fib to get into the army. He was only 17 at the time.

Richie also saved many lives as a Lakehurst, N.J., firefighter. He was at the airfield when the Airship Hindenburg tragedy occurred. He met Albert Einstein. He was a walking history book. So many stories I could tell, but time and space do not permit.

If you have lived in Fayette County any length of time, you have probably met Richie. If you didn’t meet Richie, you have missed a blessing. He has personally walked and knocked on doors of every neighborhood and subdivision within a 10- to 15-mile radius of his home. He has spoken to many school groups telling of his life’s adventures.

His real passion was telling people the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even if you weren’t interested in his message, you couldn’t help but be charmed by Richie’s winning smile. Not only did Richie do local missions, he made several foreign mission trips to England/Wales, Belarus, Romania, Russia, “Seattle and Alaska.” He did all this after the age of 65.

His “job” was evangelism associate at New Hope Baptist Church. His resume is extensive. He impacted thousands of lives during his short time here on earth, all the while, with an unassuming attitude and a heart as big as all outdoors.

Richie, little buddy, you will be missed. I was honored to be your friend and associate for these last 23 years.

Rest in peace, knowing your job was well done, good and faithful servant.

Ralph E. Stakely

Fayetteville, Ga.

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