Richard Varenhorst Jr.
Richard W. Varenhorst Jr. was born April 10, 1944, to Richard Wayne Varenhorst Sr. and Dorothy Elizabeth (Miesse) Varenhorst in Wichita, Kansas. Dick grew up in Marion where his parents owned Van’s Department Store. He graduated from Marion High School in 1962, and attended Kansas State Teacher’s College in Emporia, majoring in theater. Dick was active in the summer theater program and performed in at least 18 productions. He joined the army in September 1964, and was stationed in Germany where he started his own theater company. Later he was deployed to Vietnam as a top secret security clearance courier. Dick served two tours in Vietnam in the 9th Infantry during the Tet Offensive and Dong Tam. After his honorable discharge, Dick returned to Emporia to continue his education.
Dick married Pam Stone (whom he met at college) and moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. His son Garrett was born in Los Angeles in 1975 and daughter Catie came soon after in 1977 in Santa Rosa. The Varenhorst family moved to Marion in 1980 where he pursued a career in sales, returning to the store his mother still owned, Van’s, managing and opening Van’s Too!, a gift shop, and Van’s Man, a men’s clothing store, to complement the womens’ and childrens’ clothing lines sold at Van’s. He continued his military service in the Kansas Army National Guard for 16 years.
Dick loved his hometown and was active in the community organizations of Kiwanis, Marion Chamber of Commerce, the Library Board, and helped re-establish the Marion Arts Council. He directed several stage productions including some reader’s theater. He also had a strong personal faith and was a member of the Marion Christian Church where he served as a deacon.
After retiring as a salesman, Dick wrote a column for The Hillsboro Free Press called “Thoughts From a Cluttered Mind.” He collaborated on three books celebrating Marion County: “Marion Memories, Volumes 1 and 2” and “Our Nation Called, Marion County Answered.” Dick was a natural storyteller and loved being with his family, who played a large part in most of his tales. He never passed up a card game or a chance to go fishing, and loved people and sharing with them his infectious personality.
Richard Varenhorst is survived by Pam Varenhorst, his wife of 45 years, son Garrett Varenhorst, daughter Catie Dresser and son-in-law Eric Dresser. His large extended family includes his sister Janet and brother-in-law Chris Killough, sister-/brother-in-law Jenny and Pete Woods, Uncle Burhl and Aunt Mary Miesse, Aunt Donna Fruechting, Uncle J.B. and Aunt Carol Miesse, six nieces and four nephews, and fourteen grandnieces/nephews.
Last modified Oct. 22, 2014