Beloved Winlock Historian Dies; Citizens Mourn the Loss of Friend, Musician, Collector

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Roy Richards, a passionate Winlock historian, died on Monday, Oct. 26 in his home at age 73.

Richards owned and operated the Renegade Rooster Winlock History Collection and spent decades collecting pieces of the small town’s history. He also owned a location in downtown Winlock, referred to by locals as “Roy’s Place,” which housed more Winlock artifacts and a stage where he would play music.

“It’s a big loss. Roy was a fantastic part of our community. He was our historian and a wealth of knowledge and he was loved by the whole town. Everybody’s feeling it,” said Winlock Mayor Brandon Svenson.

The museum, opened in 1994, had displays of old police uniforms, high school memorabilia, historic kitchen supplies and signage, photos from past Winlock Egg Days, newspaper articles, old logging gear and more. Richards’ family came to the Winlock area in 1909, according to past Chronicle reporting, and Richards’ museum gave glimpses into the Winlock of the past.

“He was searching eBay all the time. He once found Egg Day buttons in New York. He was always on the hunt for anything Winlock,” said Winlock Historical Museum member Tommy Thompson. “He was a walking encyclopedia.” 

Barbara Lewis, a family friend of Richards, used to work at the Winlock Library and when people came in looking for Winlock history she would have them call Richards.

“If anybody needed any information regarding Winlock, Roy was the go-to,” said Lewis. 

Lewis County Commissioner Edna Fund first met Richards at the Lewis County Historical Museum and soon after made a visit to his museum in Winlock. Fund said she was amazed, not only by the amount of history he has accumulated but also by the organization and thoughtful display of all of the artifacts — “a Lewis County treasure,” she said. 

“He knew his Winlock history. I was taken aback when I toured his museum. You wouldn’t expect a museum of that quality in a country town. He made everything come alive. He lived and breathed the museum,” said Fund. “I will miss his smiling face and our discussions on history.”

Second grade Winlock Elementary students took field trips to the Renegade Rooster and Richards would give them each a soda as they watched the model train zoom around the track. 

“He loved kids and the kids loved him,” Lewis said.

Several people who got to know Richards throughout the years and enjoyed his collection of Winlock artifacts, shared stories, memories and photos of Richards on Winlock’s community Facebook page after they learned of his death.

Robin Brumley shared photos of her and Richards smiling in his museum and using an old rotary phone.

“I will really miss my interactions with him as it always brought a smile to my face,” Brumley wrote.

Richards also entertained the community by playing the guitar and singing at venues around town. Candace Edwards posted that the last song she heard him play was “Put Your Hand in the Hand” by Anne Murray. 

“Now my friend is walking with Jesus and he can sing with the heavenly host,” Edwards wrote.  

Carol Wallin shared a photo of the Winlock High School Class of 1967 which shows Richards standing with his fellow classmates in caps and gowns.

“The Class of 1967 will always remember our fellow classmate and friend Roy Richards. We loved laughing with you and dancing to your music and seeing one another when we could. Now as you entertain the angels...peace be with you our friend,” she wrote. 

Svenson said that he is unsure what will become of the local museum full of Richards’ collected treasures but he hopes that it can remain open for the community.

Richards’ funeral arrangements are under the care of Cattermole Funeral Home, Winlock.

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