Richard Welford Flagg was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on June 4, 1922 into a Quaker family, his parents being Arthur Leonard Flagg and Mary Harkness White. He was the middle child, with an older brother and younger sister. The family moved to Maricopa County in Arizona, where Arthur Flagg worked as a mining engineer and a collector of minerals. Enthusiasm and expertise in this field of study were passed on from father to son, for Richard graduated in 1945 from the University of Arizona College of Mines and worked as a minerals processing metallurgist for many years.
Richard entered the Civilian Public Service in 1945, and worked for several months at a camp operated by the American Friends Service Committee. Also in 1945, he married Marjorie Ann Wyman, with whom he would share 68 years of marriage.
In Arizona or in the circles of mineralogy, the name Flagg might first bring to mind Richard’s father, Arthur, who had an illustrious career in the field, founding the Mineralogical Society of Arizona. But Richard, too, had an extensive and distinguished career as a metallurgist, and was named to the Legion of Honor of the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration. He assisted for years with the famed Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. There, in addition to his expertise with the collections, he showed his practical nature by maintaining, restoring, and sometimes redesigning the display cases that are an essential part of the show.
In 1978, a US Air Force jet crashed in mid-town Tucson close to the University, a high school, and a middle school. Two students were killed in that crash. Richard happened to be on a street nearby and suffered severe burns from flaming jet fuel. He spent three months in hospital recovering from those wounds, and experienced pain long after.
In April, 1987, Richard Flagg transferred his membership from Providence Monthly Meeting (Rhode Island), to Pima Meeting. His practical, competent nature is remembered for his work on maintaining the building and grounds of the former meetinghouse (before Pima Meeting moved to the current location).
Sometimes early fortuitous encounters can leave a big impression. A Friend from Illinois visited Pima Meeting in September, 2014,and told of being assigned as Richard’s roommate when the two were freshmen at the University of Arizona more than seventy years earlier.This visitor found Richard’s Quaker presence and pacifist position to be compelling, and claims the friendship, which lasted over the years, was the inspiration for him to become a Quaker, too, and to raise a Quaker family.
Richard Flagg died in Tucson at the age of 91 on November 20, 2013. He was survived by his wife, Marjorie, until her death on October 15, 2014, and is survived by their daughters, Barbara Moos (Stephen) and Carolyn Kerr (William), a granddaughter, Stephanie Sarvana (Adam), and a sister, Anne Hines (Lenard).