Monday, April 23, 2018
News Roundup

Casket distributor Steven Risch treated clients with respect

Times Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — In many ways, Steven Risch defied the stereotype of a successful businessman whose career is in sales.

He was serious and sober. He admired the tried and true and avoided gimmicks. If he had sold time-share units or used cars, maybe he would not have had a home in Causeway Isles or a boat on the lift.

But Mr. Risch sold caskets, and he did it well. In a business with no room for mistakes, he reassured with quietness and reliability.

Mr. Risch, who owned J.R. Distributors, died April 12, of pancreatic cancer. He was 59.

"He always greeted you with a warm and friendly smile and treated you like a friend," said John McQueen, the president and chief executive of Anderson-McQueen Family Tribute Centers. "We considered him to be one, too. He will be missed by the funeral industry."

At a time when most people choose cremation and you can buy a casket from Walmart, Mr. Risch stuck with principles he had learned from his father, who in the early 1960s started the family business supplying funeral homes with caskets.

"If someone needed a casket today, we would go across the state with one casket, because that's the kind of service they gave," said Kathy Risch, his wife.

He felt the same way about personalized caskets, and had been known to change out the lining at a customer's request. At least one Florida Gator fan found eternal rest in an orange and blue casket.

Mr. Risch was born in Connersville, Ind., and moved to St. Petersburg with his family two years later. He graduated from what are now known as St. Petersburg Catholic High School and St. Petersburg College, then worked for Red Lobster restaurants and delivered caskets for Bert Risch, his father.

He married Kathy Armendinger in 1974, the same year J.R. Distributors opened its doors. The warehouse receives shipments of caskets, which are then polished and inspected before being loaded into company trucks for delivery seven days a week.

Often, Mr. Risch and his wife delivered caskets personally across Florida. After they had unloaded their cargo, they might hit the beach on the Atlantic side, or swing by Cedar Key to pick up clams.

"It's almost like we had many little vacations just delivering caskets," his wife said.

Mr. Risch also enjoyed helping neighbors with their backyard projects and getting his wife to jump into their 20-foot boat to watch the sunset.

He still delivered caskets after doctors found the cancer late in 2010. But Kathy Risch did most of the driving as time went on.

Hundreds of mourners, including many in the funeral business, turned out Monday for his Mass at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle. Mr. Risch was buried in a brown suit, in a solid mahogany casket with white velvet lining — the top of the line.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248.

Comments
Harley-Davidson is offering a dream internship to eight college students

Harley-Davidson is offering a dream internship to eight college students

Picture it: Hitting the open road on your hog, speaking with interesting people, witnessing beautiful places and sharing the whole thing on Instagram while getting college credit.Harley-Davidson has announced its seeking eight interns for a 12-week p...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
FHP: Man struck, killed by car in Trinity

FHP: Man struck, killed by car in Trinity

TRINITY — A man was killed after he was struck by a car while walking in the street near Trinity and Tamarind boulevards early Monday, according to Florida Highway Patrol.Phillip Meadows, 49, of New Port Richey, was wearing dark clothing while walkin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays win on Carlos Gomez’s walkoff home run

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays win on Carlos Gomez’s walkoff home run

Carlos Gomez, who had been struggling, delivers a two-run, walkoff home run as the Rays sweep the Twins for the first time at Tropicana Field. Rick Stroud discusses the moment and the celebration that followed Gomez's first career walkoff hit in toda...
Updated: 1 hour ago
How Deon Cain went from lifelong quarterback to NFL-bound receiver

How Deon Cain went from lifelong quarterback to NFL-bound receiver

TAMPA — Ricky Sailor thought his colleague had lost his mind.Sailor's Unsigned Preps 7-on-7 team had one of the area's most promising young quarterbacks, Deon Cain. So why would one of his coaches, Carlos Blake, want to risk injury and burn bri...
Updated: 1 hour ago
It’s a boy! Kate Middleton gives birth to third royal baby

It’s a boy! Kate Middleton gives birth to third royal baby

LONDON — Kensington Palace says the Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to her third child, a boy weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces (3.8 kilograms).The palace says the child was born at 11:01 a.m. (1001 GMT), a few hours after Kate was admitted to London’...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Can New Tampa handle nearly 700 more homes? Not without major changes, council member says

Can New Tampa handle nearly 700 more homes? Not without major changes, council member says

TAMPA — New Tampa was built on sprawl. Big houses, often in gated communities with lots of green space, are the operating principle for developing the area Tampa annexed in pieces starting in the mid 1980s.But residents who love the good schools and ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Scattered showers, thunderstorms kick off muggy week across Tampa Bay

Scattered showers, thunderstorms kick off muggy week across Tampa Bay

A large, disturbed weather system could drop thunderstorms and scattered showers across Tampa Bay. This is the same system that has caused water spouts and tornadoes to touch down around the Fort Walton Beach area in the Florida panhandle.This storm...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Waffle House customer on why he rushed shooter: ‘He was going to have to work to kill me’

Waffle House customer on why he rushed shooter: ‘He was going to have to work to kill me’

Moments before the first shot, James Shaw Jr. was watching a Waffle House employee wash dishes, stacking them higher and higher. When the first shot was fired, Shaw thought the tower of plates had come crashing down, he would later recount at a news ...
Updated: 4 hours ago

The Daystarter: Scott touts term limits in D.C.; Hillsborough teachers get day in court; All Children’s Heart Institute had ‘challenges’; Lightning tickets on sale today

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• We’ll have highs today ranging from the lower 80s to upper 80s with scattered showers and thunderstorms likely throughout the day, according to the National Weather Service.• As you h...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Waffle House suspect still being sought; residents on alert

Waffle House suspect still being sought; residents on alert

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As an intensive manhunt continues for the suspect in a Waffle House restaurant shooting that killed four people, police are warning residents of a Nashville neighborhood to beware of the alleged killer. More than 80 Nashville polic...
Updated: 4 hours ago