Our beloved brother, father, uncle, nephew, and friend, Richard Joseph Meinert III passed away in Janesville, California on Monday, June 23, 2014.
Rich was born in Washington, D.C. on January 14, 1959. He spent his childhood years in Illinois, Tennessee, and Southern California, and moved to Janesville with his parents and five siblings in 1975. He graduated from Lassen High School in 1977. He spent his early working years on construction projects and livestock at his family’s Janesville property. He became very good with a chainsaw and could build anything. On the Lassen College Fire Crew and with the Forest Service, he often teamed up with his brother Austin to cut fire line and work as a timber faller – collecting memories and life-long friendships along the way. There was nothing Rich enjoyed more than filling his pickup with the firewood he cut with his family and friends except, perhaps, cutting the perfect Christmas tree with his kids Morgan, Austin, and Zachary. Rich was completely at home in the woods. During his CB radio days, his handle was “Woodrat.”
Rich’s interest in animals began on the family ranch where he learned to raise pigs, rabbits, cows, and horses. He earned his B.A. in Animal Science at the University of Nevada, Reno in 1984, working with Dr. Don Hanks, Dr. Darrell Foote, and his father on bovine reproduction using his dad’s cattle. He completed his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University in 1990, and began his veterinary career with Lassen Veterinary Hospital under the direction of Dr. Tom Pyle. He started Thompson Peak Veterinary Services soon thereafter, and with the help of his dedicated and knowledgeable assistants over the years each horse and kitten was treated with the same compassion and skill. Rich’s expertise took him to the far corners of Lassen County and beyond. At one time he was licensed in 5 western states, Kansas, and New Hampshire. Rich participated in research at Plum Island, New York where he studied the diseases of livestock related to bioterrorism and was a state veterinarian for the California Department of Agriculture researching bovine tuberculosis. For many years Rich was the contracted veterinarian with the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program in Litchfield. He also served as the fair veterinarian at the Lassen County Fair, providing necessary vet services and working with kids from the Lassen Dairy Group, 4-H and FFA on proper husbandry. He never once asked for compensation.
Rich was one of the most unselfish people you would ever meet, contributing his time and money to individuals and groups, and projects like the park in Janesville. He yearly provided the low-cost Doyle Vaccine Clinic, and was key to the Pups on Parole Program. Monday mornings were spent with students at Janesville School where X-ray day with “Dr. Rich” was a favorite. Kids were allowed to take home a real x-ray of animals that had broken a bone, or swallowed a fishhook. He also helped train Lassen High School Vet Science Team for competitions.
Rich was an avid skier and recently took up snowmobiling, but his kids were the focus of his life. Whether camping, boating, fishing, working with them at school, thrilling them on the Polar Express, or devouring seafood at Red Lobster, those three kids gave him life.
We have all suffered an incomprehensible loss. The compassion that Rich had for his work set him apart. His family and his many friends will miss his big smile, his ready laughter, his generous hugs, and his loving, thoughtful ways. We are better people for having known him and shared in his life.
Rich is survived by his children, Morgan, Zachary, and Austin of Janesville; former wife Elda Cooper of Janesville; sisters Susan Moore, Elizabeth Fielder, Megan Deal all of Reno; brothers Austin Meinert of Janesville and Michael Meinert of Reno; aunt and uncle Robert Case and Mary Meinert-Case of Sacramento; aunt and uncle Richard and Mary Jane DeCorps of Falls Church, Virginia; aunt Susan Harst of Massilon, Ohio; six nieces and nephews, and many cousins. Rich was preceded in death by his parents Richard Joseph Meinert Jr. and Marilyn Jean Meinert.
LASSEN COUNTY 4-H– Donations can be made to the “Dr. Rich Meinert Compassion in Action Memorial Award” to honor 4-H achievement. Contact the Lassen County 4-H Office at: 530-251-8285.