Dick Vivian

Richard (Dick) W. Vivian: 10/5/1924 – 12/22/2017

Dick was born and raised in Los Angeles, with his early childhood spent in New York while his parents, Dr. Robert E. and Belle Doyle Vivian, completed their graduate studies at Columbia. He attended the University of Southern California in the Navy ROTC program and graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering. While at USC, he married Elizabeth “Bette” Hoskins with whom he had 4 children: Barbara, Robert (Bob), John, and Bonnie. Dick and Bette divorced in 1978. He later married Zanier Downs Lane, whose sons Tad and Ben he welcomed as his own.

Dick Vivian

Before graduating from USC, he was called to Active Duty by the Navy where he served aboard the USS MACON (CA132) until he was released after the end of WWII to return to college and complete his education. He would remain in the Reserve throughout his career until retirement as Lt. Commander. Following graduation, he worked for several years at the Hanford Nuclear Research Facility. At Hanford, he was in the Country’s first nuclear materials accident. The resulting daily radiation measurements of the men involved established the “safe” level of Tritium exposure. With a mostly straight face, Dick would offer that the exposure inoculated him against many illnesses and contributed to his longevity.

In 1952, he moved his young family to Albuquerque where he worked at the Atomic Energy Commission, which then became Sandia Labs, until his retirement. In Albuquerque, he quickly got involved with the activities he continued to enjoy until his death: marksmanship, hunting, skiing, and hiking. He was a member of the Sandia Gun Club and the Coronado Ski Club, as well as an avid bridge player with his close circle of dearest friends for nearly 50 years. With a commitment to introduce their children to the Country, the family explored and camped across the US and Canada on many summer vacations.

Zanier and Dick’s home in Tijeras was a welcoming and beloved destination for all of their children and friends from all over for many years. His margaritas and mai tais, created with a chemist’s precision, have become famous quite literally around the world.

Having served on a number of extended missions for Sandia in Turkey and other European countries, he continued to travel the world in his retirement, from New Zealand, Europe, and Asia with Zanier, to climbing Mt Kilimanjaro at 80, to visiting the polar bears in the Canadian arctic with Bonnie. In retirement, Dick dedicated untold hours to the US Forest Service hiking and mapping all of the various trails in both the Sandias and Manzanos.

Dick was known for many things by those who knew him, but the common thread was that he was a caring, determined, and compassionate gentleman. He was a deeply empathetic person who continued to grow intellectually and spiritually throughout his long life. He joked that he was “nuts about his ruts,’ however he remained always open to new ideas and perspectives, and especially to the long stream of old and new friends for whom he was always ready to open his home and heart.

The yearly New Mexico State Precision Pistol Match is dedicated to Dick Vivian’s memory.

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Last modified: July 19, 2021

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