Richard James Voss


Richard J. Voss (70) of Overland Park, Kansas, rang “FINISHED WITH ENGINES” at 1840 hours, May 30 after retiring in 2007 as a licensed deck officer on the dredge WHEELER with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District.

Born November 2, 1948, in Kansas City, MO, to William A. and Verna (Atkinson) Voss. Preceded in death by parents and older brother Lt. William A. Voss. Survived by wife Elaine Giessel; children Jason, Duncan, and Rachel; sister Barbara Burkart (John); sister-in-law Jean Buchli (astronaut/soul brother Jim), soul sister Judith Epstein, German brother Michael Hug; and loving cousins. He was Tio Rico to his nieces and nephews.

A life member of Sierra Club , he enjoyed fantastic outdoor adventures with brothers-in-law John and Gary: canoeing, biking, backpacking, fishing, diving, and blue-water sailing.  He was grateful to have enjoyed a colorful life with Hodgson era Boy Scout Troop 66, with fellow experimental aircraft builders and pilots, and with all of his loyal friends and shipmates.

Memorial Contributions

Donations to organizations which support progressive politics, sustainable environment, scientific curiosity, or peace and justice.


Cremation and private disposition. Celebration of his life at a later date.


  1. Colette Salmon on June 29, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    I first met Dick when I was at the University of Iowa rooming with his sister Barb. He transferred from Depauw to Iowa and moved in with John (Barb’s husband now) across the street from us. At that time he was still in the process of figuring out who he was and what he wanted to do in life. I always remember the twinkle in his eyes, riding on his motorcycle, and his smile. The 4 of us had fun Sunday night suppers and enjoyed seeing Simon and Garfunkle at the Iowa Fieldhouse. Then after graduation, when I was busy teaching and raising a family, I lost track of him. However, a few years ago my husband and I joined him, Elaine and Duncan for lunch at a Mediterranean restaurant in Overland Park. I was so glad we had a chance to visit and catch up on each other’s lives. And as an an avid environmentalist, I was very happy to know that he was also involved in environmental issues with the Sierra Club. My condolences to Elaine, his children and all his friends.

  2. Hayden B. Abel Jr. (Capt, Ret.) on June 25, 2019 at 10:42 am

    Hi Elaine. Sorry for your family’s loss. The world is a lesser place now with out Dick. He was a good mate even though I lost touch with Dick when he left the University of Texas Marine Science Institute. We did keep in contact on VHF radio whenever I was at sea and entering a waterway where the Wheeler was working.
    Here’s a little tidbit from long ago. Dick had an old wooden hull boat he kept at the University marina. We used to sit on it and have a few “cold ones” in the evening. At one point he developed engine problems. We decided to pull the engine one afternoon after work and a few cold ones using the University’s crane we used for loading the R/V Longhorn. We accomplished the task but I was severely admonished for misappropriating University property. Needless to say, we had to reinstall the engine after dark some time later when Dick finished repairs. We were scoundrels! And we loved boats. Cheers to a good MAN!

    • Elaine on June 26, 2019 at 12:44 pm

      Dick told that story more than once, noting that the admin folks were not happy. That old wooden boat took us from Yucatan to Galveston after additional repairs. There were more boats in his future and some great deepwater sailing, especially after his retirement from the Wheeler. Wish you could join us in Kansas for Dick’s celebration of life, but good to hear from you, Hayden!

  3. John Vincett on June 15, 2019 at 11:50 am

    Elaine, I was so very sorry to hear of your loss. I only met Richard a few times during our Panel meetings, however we had some great discussions about our mutual enjoyment of the outdoors and particularly those beautiful places that are remote and hard to reach – but always worth the effort of getting there.

    It was always clear that you two had a special relationship centred on your children and your family. You will miss him sorely; but you and your children have the strength to carry on and will always be finding ways to remember both the man and his legacy of good works in protecting the environment.

  4. Barbara Adamson on June 14, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    Our deepest sympathies for you and your whole family. It is so hard to lose a kind and loving husband and father that mere words can’t express it. He made a real contribution to the environment and his legacy will live on in all the friends he inspired and the work that will carry on. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Mark and Barbara Adamson

  5. Russell Sifers on June 9, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    I remember Dick (as we called him way back in grade school) from William Cullen Bryant Elementary School, the Cub Scouts den (?) and Troop 66. I remember that we always raced each other at school and Scouts to see who was faster. I am sorry to hear of his death. He was a good friend then and I wish I had known him later in life as I imagine we would have still been friends.

    • Tom Ward on June 17, 2019 at 11:24 am

      Everything Rus said is true, we all grew up together, grade school scouts, and high school. Everyday I walked past his house on Westover Road on the way home. We all grew up close especially when my mother was den mother.

  6. Jim Renfro on June 9, 2019 at 10:19 am

    I’m without words, a great guy and a good friend of many years who will be missed everyday…

  7. Cathy S. Williams on June 8, 2019 at 11:29 am

    Dear Elaine,
    I am glad we got to visit with you and Richard in Texas in March.
    John and I offer our condolences.
    Your cousin, Cathy

  8. Christine Caseres on June 7, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    Elaine, I’m so sorry for your loss. The more I know about Richard, the more impressed I am with his passion and commitment for nature and humanity. He will be greatly missed. Christine

  9. Capt. Edward Morehouse on June 6, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    Rich embodied a rare human greatness; An excellent Maritime Officer and sailor — my first true shipmate/watch partner and later my best officer and friend as we both moved up the ranks together. Always true to his beliefs and convictions and always managing to improve his workplace environment as well as the world’s. Intelligent, thoughtful, sharing, giving, loyal…more than a colleague, a true friend. Yet his utmost dedication was to his family and the love of his life, Elaine “RW”. I will miss him; his former shipmates will miss him; and so many others who came in an out of his life will miss him. Rich leaves behind an honorable legacy of an honorable man. Fair Winds and Following Seas, RJV.

  10. Donald Kaiser on June 6, 2019 at 11:57 am

    Richard clearly qualifies as the salt of the earth.. He will be deeply missed.
    Don and Anita Kaiser

  11. Laura McEnery on June 5, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    Elaine, my heart breaks for you. Take care of yourself.

  12. Joey Mitchell on June 4, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    So sorry to hear of the battle loss by my old Shipmate and friend. His watch is now over and he can rest easy as those of us that he taught out on the Wheeler now have the watch. Take care Elanie, Jason, Duncan, and Rachel. Know that he will be missed.

  13. Dorothy Barnett on June 4, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    I’m so sorry for your lost Elaine.

  14. Kay Heley on June 3, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    My heart goes out to you Elaine and your family. Cancer sucks! Take care of each other….

  15. Joe L Spease on June 3, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    Richard was an exceptional human being. If one looks at the characteristics required for civilization, Richard checks all the boxes. He was smart; he was loving; he was critical; he had a sense of humor; and, because of his concern for the environment, he displayed his love for the future of life on the planet. Because of his love, I now commit all of my efforts to stop climate change in his name. His work is my work. RIP my friend. I am going to work.

    • Elaine Giessel on June 4, 2019 at 7:04 pm

      You can do his memory no greater honor than continuing the work you are doing to protect the environment in Kansas and nationwide. Thank you for your dedication.


  16. Scott Munk on June 3, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    So sorry for your loss. You and you’re family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  17. Dick H on June 3, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    Hope to see as many of you all that can make it when we can arrange a Memorial Get-together. I look forward to it. Haven’t stopped remembering Voss since the news hit.
    Tough getting through the days!

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