ONEONTA – Rich was born on August 7, 1943 in Oneonta, NY to Leslie and Lucille (Mulford) Elderkin. He was raised on the family farm in West Laurens. It was there where he learned his strong work ethic and mechanical skills (“There were no holidays on our calendar”).
His father died when Rich was 16, which left him running the 100 head family farm together with the hired man, his mother and “little brother” John- not to mention attending school and playing football. Eventually they decided to sell and Rich joined the Air Force on May 21,1963. (“I went to see the army recruiter who wasn’t on duty that day. Lucky for me, the Air Force recruiter was there and I could not have made a better choice for my life’s work”).
Rich was trained in aircraft maintenance on the “new” F-4 fighter jets and went to Vietnam with the first wing of F-4’s ever battle tested. Rich’s work ethic, mechanical ability and innate leadership skills served him well and he rose quickly through the ranks. When F-16’s became part of the Air Force arsenal, Rich was sent to Spangdahlem, Germany with a wing of F-4’s and F-16’s and received his final promotion to maintenance superintendent. He was medically discharged after 25 years of service to his country in 1987 (“I wanted to stay 30 years”).
Rich is survived by his wife and best friend Priscilla (Remy) Elderkin; brother John (Janice) Elderkin; children Jacqueline (James) Tate, and Richard (Stefanie) Elderkin; stepchildren Michael (Emily) Johnson and Jessica (Scott) Eastman; grandchildren Zachary Tate, Joshua (Tristan) Elderkin, Jared (Hannah) Elderkin and Madison Elderkin; step grandchildren Owen, Remy and Ridge Eastman and Dean Johnson; great grandchildren Felicity and Elijah Elderkin. He was predeceased by his brother Warren.
Rich lived a very full and rewarding life with no regrets (“I’ve been around the world twice and met everybody once”). He is very deeply missed by his family and many friends. Interment and celebration of life will be in the spring of 2023.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Johnston & Stanimer Funeral Home. To leave an online message of sympathy to his family, visit www.JohnstonFH.com.