Submitted by Ian McDonald, with approval from the Richey family.
George Richey (Oct. 25,1950 - Nov. 15, 2021)
George Richey passed away on Monday, November 15, 2021, in Gibsons, BC. A physical force of nature, he had just finished doing one of his favourite things: working out.
George was born and bred in El Paso, Texas. His father, Harold, was an officer in the US army, eventually stationed in Fort Lewis, Washington State. When Colonel Richey decided to retire in 1968, the whole family was relocated in order to live in one of their Mom’s (Jean) favourite towns: Victoria, BC. George had wrestled in high school in El Paso, so took it up again with his brother, Mike, under the remarkable tutelage of Coach Ed Ashmore at the Victoria YMCA.*
George also played football, but wrestling became his sport of choice. Yet it was much more than that; George simply loved wrestling! He was a BC high school wrestling champion in 1969, then went to Green River College in Auburn, Washington State, to pursue his passion. After a year in the Evergreen State he transferred to UBC to wrestle under the watchful eye of future BC Sports Hall of Fame coach, Paul Nemeth, followed by Bob Laycoe.
While pursuing his studies, George was a three-time Canadian University (CIAU) champion, in 1973, 1974, and 1975, all at 198 pounds. A spot on the National Team and a trip to the 1974 World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey, ensued. Entered in the 90 kg. weight class and as the luck-of-the-draw would fate him, George’s first match was against five-time World Champion (and two-time Olympic Champion), Levan Tediashvili. George claimed that he caught the highly-touted Soviet (Georgian) off-guard in the early going, threw his unsuspecting opponent to his back, and actually had him pinned. But the story goes that the referee was wrongly positioned and couldn’t see the shoulder blades. The inevitable quickly followed: Levan Tediashvili bridged off his back, then mercilessly proceeded to rack up the points against the outmatched, yet audacious Canadian representative. George ended up finishing sixth. In 1975 he was the National Senior Open Champion, winning the Freestyle title and coming second in the Greco-roman division. As a consequence he was also voted the winner of the prestigious Outstanding Wrestler award of the tournament. It was to be his best result.
A year later, in 1976, George Richey actually won the Canadian Olympic trials in Greco-Roman for his weight class, but was unable to participate in the Montreal Games. He subsequently stopped wrestling for awhile, then made a comeback of sorts, winning three AAU western regional trials in the United States in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He stepped away from competition for good after that.
George was an elementary school teacher on the Sunshine Coast for 24 years, retiring in 2014. He was an on-going assistant coach for the wrestling program at Elphinstone Secondary in Gibsons until his passing. Our sincerest condolences to his wife, Jan, daughter Kyla, son Stuart, and his brothers, Mike and Steve. George left us with a memorable and humorous phrase: “I forget most of the moves… except for the painful ones!” He would then produce that inimitable chuckle that punctuated his verbal interactions.
George Richey will be sorely missed.
Funeral arrangements to be announced shortly by the family.
*It should be noted that the influential Ashmore would be a key coach in also helping to produce future World placers Rolf Schetterer, Taras Hryb and Clark Davis.