Richard D. Halverson, 93, of Newcastle, passed away peacefully at his home on the afternoon of March 22, surrounded by his loving wife, son and daughter-in-law, and caregivers. Born in Minneapolis, Minn., on Jan. 14, 1923, he was the son of Jasper and Hazel (Boeghrhardt) Halverson.
Richard grew up in Minnesota, residing there until he joined the Merchant Marines during WWII. He was chief purser and pharmacist mate as an Ensign, and following the war married Sally Gascoigne on Valentine’s Day, 1946. They returned to Minneapolis where he worked as an accountant for Phillips Petroleum, soon promoted to the head of retail accounting department while also initiating Halverson Construction Company which specialized in installation of large irrigation and water systems.
In 1950 the family moved to Harlingen, Tex. where his company installed hundreds of miles of 60″ pipelines for local towns, as well as large cattle ranches for irrigation. They moved to Miami in 1958 where he supervised the installation of Miami’s new water system, and also headed World Agencies for JW Dant Company, which exported electronics and other products.
He installed the dial phone system in Costa Rica, upgrading the former “party lines,” and worked to import exotic hardwood from Central America to the U.S. He also contracted exclusively with a small Japanese company for small transistor radios to be sold through pharmacy chains in the U.S. That company was Sony, which he sold the exclusivity rights to Walgreens.
He moved to New York in 1962 and joined Omega Company, a business consulting firm specializing in Quality Control for large corporations. During his tenure with several industrial engineering firms he personally sold consulting to over 500 companies, many of which were Fortune 500 companies including the NY Daily News, TWA Airlines, Crane and Kohler Plumbing fixtures, Bohacks, King Cullen and A&P food store chains, Helena Rubenstein, Gant and Manhattan Shirts, Welbuilt Stove, Grace Lines Shipping, Armstrong Rubber and Pepsi, just to name a few. Many of these projects involved several industrial engineers and lasted 6-18 months to complete. They resulted in saving these firms millions of dollars in net profit, and streamlined how they conducted business. Many of the CEOs of those firms became personal friends.
At the height of his consulting career, he and his wife decided to say goodbye to the hustle and bustle, and moved to Newcastle, where they opened Maine Antiques in Wiscasset. All the while, Richard did some consulting for the City of Portland and began selling commercial real estate, working with Rupe Nealy in Boothbay and Charley Adams in Damariscotta. The couple worked late into their 70s.
Perhaps what Richard enjoyed most was music; he was one of the great Jazz pianists of his era, but never pursued it professionally. He won the Armed Services talent contest at the end of WWII, and after auditioning for Arthur Godfrey’s radio hour, was offered the position of opening and closing each show, then the largest in the world. The offer included $250 per week salary, a great deal of money in the 1940s, but he declined after discussing it with his father-in-law, and left for Minnesota.
He was taught jazz by Bob Zurke, the great pianist from Detroit who played with Bob Crosby (Bing’s brother) and the Bobcats in Chicago. By age 17, Richard had played dates with Crosby’s band and concerts in Minnesota, Detroit and Chicago with Zurke as they played dueling twin pianos with an orchestra. Zurke introduced Richard to Fats Waller, whom he played with in Minneapolis, and later played with such greats as Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum, along with Louis Armstrong and Gene Krupa at the famed Harlem all night Jams.
Although not a journalist by any stretch, he also wrote a column for many years for The Lincoln County News, entitled Mental Meandering which he called his musings on a variety of topics that were on his mind at any given point. Those articles are being compiled in PDF format for anyone who may be interested in them.
Richard is survived by his wife of 70 years, Sally; son, Ren and wife Crickett; and grandchildren, Eric, his wife Janie, Richie, and Reny; and great-granddaughter, Piper. He will be greatly missed by his family and many friends.
A private service was held for the family.
Condolences, and messages for the family, may be expressed by visiting StrongHancock.com.
Arrangements are under the direction and care of the Strong-Hancock Funeral Home, 612 Main St., Damariscotta.