Richard Louis Lonergan, also known as “Mr. Napa,” Dick Lonergan passed away October 27, 2015. Richard was very proud of his Irish heritage, but more proud to be an American and especially proud of living in and serving Napa.
Richard’s great-grandfather, John Lonergan, emigrated from Ireland and settled in Napa in 1865. He purchased a ranch in the Coombsville area, where he and his wife, Margaret raised their three sons whom were all baptized at St. John’s Church and attended St. John’s School. John was a member of St. John the Baptist Parish and helped finance the “new” church that was built on the corner of Main and Caymus Streets in 1880. This marked the beginning of many years of service and community involvement to Napa by the Lonergan family, a mission Richard actively pursued. In a 2003 article, “A Family’s Journey” which Richard wrote, he mentioned “I am very proud that my family has been a part of St. John’s Parish for 141 years”. John died in Napa in 1897 at the age of 74.
Richard’s father, John Louis Lonergan was born in 1914 and married Mildred Vierra in 1938 (at St. John’s). Richard is survived by an extended family, as well as his wife, Mary of 36 years; two adult children, Rebecca (David Bousfield) and Matthew; grandchildren, Meaghan, Sean, and Rebecca Lonergan, Ryder and Cole Bousfield; and brother, Dan (Stephanie), and sister, Diane Henry, both of Napa, CA and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Richard attended St. John’s School for eight years prior to enrolling in Napa High School, where he graduated in 1958. Richard excelled in sports, student government and academics at NHS. Although Richard’s passion was football, he also participated in track and field, swimming, and basketball earning him the title of “NHS Athlete of the Year” in 1958. Richard was a wide receiver and defensive end. He was an All-North Bay League receiver for the 1957 NBL champion Indians. He was also named All-NBL and All-North Coast first team defensive end and Napa’s Lineman of the year. Richard was inducted in the NHS Hall of fame in 2002 and served on the Board of the NHS Hall of Fame Foundation.
Richard served as president of the NHS student body and president of both his junior and senior classes. After NHS, Richard earned an AA degree from the Napa Valley College in 1969, a Lifetime Teaching Credential in Police Science in 1970 and a BA degree in Administration of Justice from Golden Gate University in 1975. In April 1963, Richard joined the Napa Sheriffs Department, he worked his way up through the ranks since joining the Sheriff’s Department as a patrol deputy. He was promoted to sergeant in 1967, lieutenant in 1971, and captain in charge of field operations in 1984.
Before taking up law enforcement, he spent three years in the U.S. Navy and worked briefly at Wells Fargo as a teller. While Serving in the United States Navy from 1958 to 1960, he was a qualified Navy swimmer and was assigned lifeguard duties during flight operations aboard U.S.S. Boxer in the Caribbean Sea.
He is a 1980 graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy in Quantico, VA.
In 1994, Richard was promoted to undersheriff by Sheriff Gary Simpson.
Undersheriff Richard Lonergan had many friends and even more acquaintances in Napa. The number of organizations he was involved with is astounding. In most of these organizations, he participated in some official capacity to better understand and contribute to the community he so loved.
Richard taught for 18 years in the Criminal Justice Program at Napa Valley College and served on the College’s Board of Trustees from 1985 to 1990. He also received an award from the Associated Student Body for support of Student Affairs.
Richard was a member of the Bay Counties Peace Officers Association and elected the president in 1999. He was also awarded Life Membership in the Napa County Peace Officers Association. Richard was a life member of the NRA. Richard was a member of the Navy League of the United States since 1984 and served as president. He was also a member of Moose Lodge 207 since 1984, where he was honored as Legionaire of the year 2010-2011 and the Elks Lodge since 2004, as well as a 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus. Richard was very proud of his 39 year membership of the Native Sons of the Golden West. He earned a certificate of Achievement upon graduation from the University of Virginia program in Criminal Justice Education in 1980. Richard received multiple certificates from the FBI National Academy United States Department of Justice for completion of courses of instruction and a member of the FBI National Academy Associates. Of note a certificate presented by FBI director, William H. Webster in Quantico, Virginia, September 1980 at the completion of their 122nd session.
In 2002, Richard was awarded a certificate in recognition of his 39 years of public service and for his dedication to the San Francisco Bay Area Law Enforcement Emerald Society as a Founding Board Member and honored as Officer of the Year.
Also in 2002, Richard was honored as donor of the year by the Help Hospitalized Veterans Organization, which he also served as board member.
On January 24, 2002, the Honorable Mike Thompson submitted the following remarks to the 107th congress honoring undersheriff Richard L. Lonergan upon his retirement:
“Since Richard joined the Napa County Sheriffs Department in 1963, he has demonstrated skill, experience, and passion in helping create a safe community for the residents of Napa County. His breadth of experience is remarkable. Richard’s dedication to law enforcement is evident in his involvement in numerous civic and professional activities. He is a member and past president of the Napa County Peace Officers Association, the Tri-County Investigators Association, the Napa County Council of the Navy League of the U.S., and the Napa Rotary Club. In addition, Richard used his experience and expertise in law enforcement to teach Criminal Justice courses at Napa Valley Community College for 18 years. From 1985 to 1990 he also served as an elected member of the Napa Valley Community College Board of Trustees. Mr. Speaker, as our nation recognizes its citizens in law enforcement, I would like to take the opportunity to honor a leader in Napa County, Undersheriff Richard Lonergan. He embodies all the positive attributes of an ideal law enforcement officer. Please join me in recognizing Richard Lonergan on the occasion of his retirement.”
In 2008, The Holy Father Benedict XVI imparted the Apostolic Blessing to Richard Lonergan “in recognition for Ministry and Service for St. John the Baptist Catholic Church celebrating its 150th Anniversary and invokes an abundance of heavenly graces and the continued protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary”.
Services provided through Tulocay Cemetery are coinciding with Richard’s 76th birthday, November 30 at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. Mass is at 10 am with reception to follow at the St John’s Hall on Napa Street. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to St. John the Baptist Catholic School in memory of Richard Lonergan class of 1954 Scholarship or to the Tug McGraw foundation.