Rich spent his childhood in Chatham, New Jersey. His siblings were Nancy Barchfield Kay of Tucson, Elizabeth “Bitsy” Barchfield Lutton of Manhattan Beach, California, and Carl “Bud” Frederic Barchfield, Jr. of Dallas, Texas (deceased, 2009).
Unfortunately, Rich came down with severe asthma when he was a child. At age 8, Richard was sent to boarding school at the Fenster Ranch School in Tucson, Arizona for health reasons. Later, in 1960, the entire family relocated to Arizona.
During his undergraduate years at the University of Arizona, Rich studied History and Spanish. He later received his Masters degree in History at the University of Arizona.
Following school, Richard traveled widely. He spent time in Asia (specifically, India and Afghanistan), Europe (Great Britain), and South America.
In the late 1970s, Rich started a job as an engineer on the railroad, first working on freight trains and then landing a job running Amtrak's Sunset Limited. The railroad transferred him to Alpine, Texas in the late 1980s. Although his health issues forced him to take a disability in the early 1990s, he stayed in Alpine until 1994, when he returned to Tucson.
In 1972 Richard married Sharon Bundy in Benson, Arizona. They raised two children: Jennifer “Jenny” Wynn Barchfield who is currently living in Portugal and Vanessa Brooke Barchfield, currently in Tucson, Arizona. Both of his daughters work in journalism and, like him, have travelled extensively. Rich and Sharon divorced in the early 1990s. In 1997, Richard reunited with an old friend, Linda Haight, whom he later married.
Richard was a man of wide interests. Rich had a passion for baseball, born of listening to ball games on the radio while at boarding school. His favorite team was the Los Angeles Angels. Another passion, astronomy, developed while he was working on the railroad, looking at starry nights. He taught himself about stars and faraway solar systems. Rich started volunteering at Kitt Peak in 1996 as a docent doing guided tours. Then, he got a “nightly observing technician” job in 1997. He worked there until 2015, when his lung disease (COPD) kept him from continuing. He even started writing a book about astronomy.
Richard Barchfield was admitted to membership in Pima Meeting June 8, 1997 by transfer from Friends Meeting of Austin, Texas. He served on the Clemency Committee and participated in other anti-death penalty activities. Towards the end of his life, he could not attend Meeting much but his wife Linda reports that he was always a Quaker at heart.
In 1997, Richard was told he could expect to live 10 more years. The world actually got to enjoy his presence for an additional 21 years. We are grateful for the life of Richard Barchfield.