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Sister Lucille and Richard - remarkable losses

Could anyone find two more different personalities than Sister Lucille Buhl and Richard Smith?

Both were remarkable in their way, both dedicated to Belton and North Cass with an energy and commitment rarely found...and both now departed from our daily lives. Only now would fate cause us to speak of both of them in the same breath. And only now because God chose the same week to bring them both home.

Sister Lucille’s countenance was truly heaven-sent. She was honored years ago for her 65 years of service – not just to her order or her church, but to absolutely everyone she met in life.

Including me, on numerous occasions. The most memorable was this:

Shortly after her 65th anniversary celebration at St. Sabina Church in Belton (see photos below), my little sister passed away from breast cancer. We had received the call from my brother-in-law that morning. They lived in Wichita, and we would be headed down in a few days for the funeral anyway, so there was nothing for me to do that morning but go to the office and bury myself in work.

That is after breaking the news to my mother, who was in skilled nursing at Beautiful Savior here in Belton and was battling dementia along with other ailments that limited her awareness and cognitive abilities. It was the most difficult morning of my life. We knew, though, that the only way for me to get through the rest of that day was at the office.

Of course, I struggled that first hour and just kind of sat there. But like out of nowhere, Sister Lucille dropped by the office for some reason, I don’t even remember why. Laurie immediately buttonholed her and told her what I was dealing with and she marched right in, sat down and “dealt with me,” (that’s the best way I can put it).

I don’t recall exactly what she said, but I know that within 30-45 minutes, she had me in a healthy place that honestly lasted me throughout the ensuing days and the funeral.

My sister was young, in her 40s, and a very popular teacher, so the funeral was even more difficult than many, but I managed it fine and I’ll always credit Sister Lucille.

And then there’s Richard, “the Godfather of Main Street.”

Those close to me will confirm I’ve always been somewhat fascinated by bad behavior, as long as it does no harm. Richard, in his passion for Belton in general and Main Street in particular, could be relied upon to step on some toes from time to time, and to stir up some laughter through pure orneriness.

But it was commitment and love for his community, his neighbors, his customers and friends that drove every word he spoke. No one will ever replace his drive and enthusiasm, and the pure joy he took in his life, every single day, no matter what challenge presented itself.

RS Diecast was a magnet for “Friends of Richard,” to the point where the front lobby was set up like a living room and NASCAR races were shown all day every day on the television.

His next business, Rich-n-Art (now Rich-n-Rich), reflecting his partnership with son Richie, featured the same welcoming environment where one could meet acquaintances and “Friends of Richard” from years past as commonly as present-day Beltononians.

I’ll never forget the watch party he hosted for the Royals’ wild card playoff game against Oakland, coincidentally the same fall as the encounter I just described with Sister Lucille.

It was at Rich-n-Art’s, with a close and small group of friends that inhaled and exhaled in unison with every pressure-packed moment in that final inning.

Both Sister Lucille and Richard were irreplaceable, just like many other Belton personalities from years past.

The difference is, these two are our icons, not distant memories from previous generations. Both made a tremendous difference in their worlds, which both happened to be ours as well.

Sister Lucille Buhl

Sister Lucille Buhl

Richard Smith


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