Straub, who was born in Concord and graduated from Pittsburg High in 1960, worked for DuPont for 34 years, retiring as an instrument and electrical technician when the Antioch plant closed in 1998. He is remembered as an ambitious man who never let life get stagnant. Straub’s daughter, Tina DeRita, recalled how her father strived to be constantly active and on the go. Sometimes, that meant taking his orange dune buggy, “Willy,” out for a spin. It meant heading to the Twain Harte cabin built by his grandfather, considered his second home. It meant just spending quality time with his two daughters, Kelly Royse and DeRita, or his grandchildren.
“He spent every weekend out and about,” DeRita said. “He was just an adventure seeker. He loved the backroads.”
Straub also possessed a love for his country and his city. After attending Diablo Valley College, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1962. While in military service, Straub was stationed at McGuire AFB in New Jersey, Keesler AFB in Mississippi and Thule AFB in Greenland, 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle. He was a life member of the VFW Lodge 6435 in Antioch and a member of the American Legion Post 161.
After retiring from DuPont, Straub was not content to simply relax. He lived in Antioch for more than 40 years and grew to love the city. DeRita said that in response to the image of boarded-up businesses and buildings tagged with graffiti, he contributed to the annual Keep Antioch Beautiful event, hauling trash away in his truck.
“He wasn’t one for the limelight, but he really got in there and helped,” said Martha Parsons, Keep Antioch Beautiful organizer and former Antioch councilwoman. “He was a worker. He really cared about how Antioch looked and so he was there all the time at the cleanups.”
Volunteers at Keep Antioch Beautiful events receive bright yellow shirts inscribed with the names of businesses that contribute money or supplies. Straub, who donated both time and money, is the only individual – as opposed to business – listed on the back of the shirt he wore proudly to cleanup events.
Straub’s involvement didn’t stop with Keep Antioch Beautiful. He was a member of numerous groups, including Take Back Antioch, Neighborhood Watch, Save Mt. Diablo, the Sierra Club and Ducks Unlimited. Additionally, his love for bocce led him to a position as a board member of the Antioch Bocce Federation.
“He took pride in our city, which he was a part of for so long,” said friend and Antioch resident Dena Jeglum. “He wanted to continue being a positive influence for as long as his body would allow him.”
Straub passed away from heart failure on Dec. 12. He is preceeded by his mother, Eleanor Bissell Minugh, in 1987 and his father, Frances “Bud” W. Straub, in 2006. Dick is survived by his stepmother, Patricia Straub of Pittsburg; his two daughters, Tina DeRita (and son-in-law Darrin of Danville) and Kelly Royse (and son-in-law Bill of Elk Grove); his four grandchildren, Brittani, Steffani and Jarid DeRita, and Daltry Royse; his longtime love and lifetime friend, Gina French; and her family, many cousins and a cat named “BJ.”
A memorial service and reception will be held Saturday, Jan 7 at 10:30 a.m. at Higgins Funeral Chapel, 1310 A St. in Antioch. The Red Caboose, 210 Fulton Shipyard Road, will host a reception at 1 p.m.