Richard D. See, 70, of both Palm Springs, CA and Flagstaff, AZ, left this life peacefully in the California home he shared with his loving husband Carl E. Clark on February 20, 2019. Richard was born in Woodlake, CA and spent his early years in Lemon Cove, CA, both located in the San Joaquin Valley. It has been said that observing his beloved father’s struggle with chronic illness sparked an interest in healthcare early in Richard’s life. He attended College of the Sequoias, graduating from their Nursing and Allied Health Program as a Licensed Vocational Nurse, a credential he applied to his career for four decades. Soon after, Richard moved to Kansas City, MO and then on to Los Angeles deepening his nursing skills as a surgical assistant and honing his talent for administration and leadership duties.
After relocating to Palm Springs in the 1980s, Richard joined Desert AIDS Project where he served more than two decades retiring in 2010. He began as one of the first nurses and only case manager. Notoriously opening the office before sunrise, Richard’s infamous work ethic drove D.A.P. to adapt through the evolution of HIV treatment and community attitudes toward those impacted. Never one to say no, Richard eventually served in many roles including Director of Social Services, Director of Case Management, Director of Home Care, Director of Patient Support Services, Clinic Administrator, Acting Chief Operating Officer, Interim Executive Director, and dependably off and on, Clinic Nurse.
With no fear or apologetic language, Richard delivered the message of HIV prevention, early intervention and linkage to care for all communities. Perhaps in his most treasured role of health educator, Richard creatively captured the attention of school-age children and U.S. Senators; media and clergy; the young and the aging; fellow healthcare professionals and grieving families. From his staff, Richard demanded excellence, authenticity, loyalty and accountability; he returned it multifold. He had an endless desire to innovate outreach and service provision, prioritize wellness programming to compliment medical interventions, and develop of services that reduce stress, pain, isolation and anxiety.
There are numerous accolades and accomplishments attributed to Richard throughout his life. Handpicked by State and local institutions, Richard influenced HIV policy and planning milestones concerning public funding and stigma reduction. This included service on the State committee to create the AIDS Medi-Cal Waiver program, enabling caregivers to provide home and community based services to low-income residents living with HIV / AIDS, as an alternative to nursing facility care or hospitalization.
He was also a member of the first AIDS Task Force at Desert Regional Medical Center which founded the special care unit; the Inland Empire HIV Planning Council; several delegations to AIDSWatch; and the training team for California’s Positively Speaking program which equipped people affected by HIV to tell their story in junior high and high schools.
Often at the end of a very long day Richard remained at the office - with no hint of waning energy – listening to staff, clients and partners envision how to improve quality and bolster the cause.
At one time an active downhill skier and home renovator, Richard was at all times the ultimate host and witty observer. His lifelong love of travel is remembered most fondly as how he and Carl found one another. The curiosity, problem-solving skills and open-minded nature that served him so well as a caregiver, manager and activist only fired more intensely when a trip was planned. He truly traveled the world and found special delight when joining academic trips with Carl’s students.
As a mentor, Richard’s hope for others was belief in one’s potential to set a goal and harness the focus to get there with grace, respect, a little laughter and a lot of style. He taught us you could be both relentless and loving; and an evening chat over a dish of spaghetti might be all you need to face another day.
Richard is survived by his husband Carl E. Clark - the one soul who filled Richard with flawless joy - and their beloved toy poodle Krickett- who came in at a close second. He is also survived by two older brothers, Ronnie See of Sparks, NV, and Jim See of Mercer, MO. Richard was preceded in death by his mother Ruth Imogene See and father Howard See, both of Visalia, CA.