Richard Curtis “Curt” Rife, Jr.

Richard Rife

MARQUETTE, MI – Richard Curtis “Curt” Rife, Jr., 75, of Marquette, Michigan, was called home on December 4, 2020, by the Lord he faithfully served, after a short, intense two week bout with COVID and related heart and lung complications.

Curt was born November 1, 1945, in the city of Bedford County, Pennsylvania, on the only day the rural doctor was sober because it was the opening day of groundhog season. He was the first son of the late Pastor Richard Rife, Sr. and the late Doris (Keller) Rife and took great pride in his Germanic ancestry. He loved telling stories about his childhood and had an uncanny memory for people, places, and experiences that would often turn into really entertaining stories.

Curt was a 1963 graduate of Morgantown High School, Morgantown, West Virginia. He met Nancy Huysman while sharing a hymnal singing Christmas carols to shut ins in 1966 and they were married on Christmas Day, 1968, by his father in Morgantown.

Curt was drafted into the US Army in 1968, so he and Nancy spent their first 2 years of marriage at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, hiking and camping in beautiful southern Arizona, where the mountains are purple and the sky is so big that it appears endless.

Curt went back to college after the Army, and graduated in 1973 from Lake Superior State University with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. He worked many different jobs to make ends meet in the early years, including working in a creamery, a sawmill partnership in Cedarville, and painting houses. In 1986, he became a corrections officer, retiring in 2007, after 22 years with the Michigan Department of Corrections. During that time he worked at Marquette Branch Prison, Ojibwa Camp in Iron River, and Alger Maximum Facility in Munising, managing 3 of their 5 cell blocks when he retired.

Curt was an elder at Water’s Edge Church in Marquette for many years and possessed a tenderness that complimented his gruffness. He was a volunteer chaplain for Lake Superior Life Care and Hospice, which he loved, and led a Bible study with Nancy at Mill Creek Senior Living Community. He had a passion for bringing old machinery back to life, having rebuilt many lawnmowers and snowblowers for young couples starting out. He was a passionate intercessor, spending many hours praying for family, church members, friends, America, and other requests people would send him. When he couldn’t sleep at night, he prayed.

Curt is survived by his beloved wife of almost 52 years, Nancy; son, Nathan of Waukesha, WI; daughter, Hannah Bruns of Marquette; son, Andrew of St. Ignace; 6 vibrant grandchildren, Caleb, Sam, Adam, Eli, Tessa and Gavin and brother, John of Chambersburg, PA.

He was preceded in death by his sister, Barbara.

Those wishing to make an expression of sympathy may consider a donation in Curt’s memory to Samaritan’s Purse, P.O. Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607.

Due to COVID restrictions, a memorial service will be held at a later date.

Fassbender Swanson Hanson Funeral and Cremation Services is assisting Curt’s family where memories may be shared at fassbenderswansonhansen.com