Lifelong Weslaco resident Richard Lehman passed away peacefully September 30, 2018, at Knapp Medical Center. Richard was preceded in death by his parents Virginia Pierce and Virgil Lehman. He is survived by his wife Roxie Freeman Lehman, stepchildren Kim McBride (Jon Whitaker), Kelly McBride (Anna Roberts), grandchildren Roxana Maiberger, Mary Katherine McBride, Rebecca McBride and his sister Nancy Lavinski (Richard) and many cousins and friends who loved Richard dearly.
Richard was born November 12, 1943, in the Mid Valley's only hospital at the time in Mercedes on Texas Avenue. He graduated from Weslaco High School in 1962 and went to Southwestern University where he was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha.
He was always a champion for developing Weslaco as a great place to do business, raise a family, and enjoy nature. He retired from Mercedes ISD where he taught science at Mercedes High School. Many of his former students continue to talk about what they learned from him. He was selected as Outstanding Biology Teacher of the Year for the State of Texas in 1979. After retiring from teaching, he then went to work for Weslaco. He was a founder of the Valley Nature Center and provided leadership for Frontera Audubon. He was instrumental in Weslaco being selected as a World Birding Center site and wrote the grant to turn a cornfield into the main water feature at Estero Llano Grande. He continued to impact the youth of the area through his efforts at various nature centers across the Valley.
In addition to his promotion of nature, he served on the Weslaco Economic Development Board of Directors for several years. He continued to promote nature and Mid-Valley history every chance he got to the day of his death.
Richard was an animal lover. As a younger man, he raised Standard Poodles, trained them and showed them in Dog Shows across the country. In the last several years he and Roxie rescued and adopted several dogs and a cat. Their home was open to all types of strays, canine, feline and even human. Richard was good to so many even as he struggled with his health.
In lieu of flowers please donate to one of Richard's favorite charities: Weslaco Museum, Friends of Estero Llano Grande, Frontera Audubon Society, Valley Nature Center or Aurora House.
Richard was an excellent teacher, a mentor, and a friend to our family for decades. He had a kind heart and love of science, and also had the rare ability to instill that interest in thousands of high school students. I had several science classes (Bio II, Marine, etc) under Richard's direction. How many kids get to keep a shark tank, at school? We did. Trips to the rain forest? Yes, several. Diving in Cozumel for a week? Yes. Bridge? Yes, but only when we could find enough players.
Roxie, my deepest condolences, and prayers for you and your family. It was special to see the love and care that you gave Richard, and I believe he was as happy as I had ever seen him, when he was with you.
RIP, my friend.
We have known Richard and Roxie only a few short years when they became part of our little Bridge group. What fun we had, even when the cards weren't that good. Just a few weeks ago Richard took us on a tour of the flooded areas of Weslaco. His knowledge of this area was so acute. As others have said he was indeed a strong supporter of Weslaco and environs. Aside from those who were his students who have paid tribute to him here, we have heard of his prowess as a teacher. We, too, have learned from him. He was a good friend. We will miss him greatly.
Mr. Lehman was my Biology teacher during the 80's, and I remember his class very fondly. His passion for the class and for turning us silly teeneagers into nature-lovers stayed with me. To this day, I remember what I learned in his class and have helped my sons respect the land and learn plant names like Mr. Lehman drilled into his students! Our condolences to the Lehman family.
- Michele (Dubuisson) Hall
Mr. Lehman was the most important teacher of my life. He stepped into my life for the second time when I began my Freshman year in high school. He recognized that I belonged in his honors biology class. Then convinced me that I belonged in the honors program. Graduating with honors changed the rest of my life as it led to my subsequent admission into The University of Texas at Austin. I would not have followed that path without Mr. Lehman. However, very few people know about the first time he stepped into my life. The day he saved my father. When my father was teenager and attending high school, he was involved in a very serious vehicle accident. My father suffered very serious trauma and was close to death. Mr. Lehman stabilized my father at the Mercedes Hospital, and flew with my father and grandfather to Houston in a four passenger plane so that my father’s life could be saved. Without a doubt, Mr. Lehman saved my life more than once. I will always tell his story. My children will know his story. We will always remember Mr. Lehman.
Richard Lehman was my favourite teacher as well. He was ahead of his time, teaching us field ecology in 1976, leading us on magical trips to Mexican rainforests and creating a Marine Biology class for our final year at MHS culminating with a field trip to Cozumel. He was a vibrant dynamic person who shared his passion for science and nature with us all; it does not surprise me to see how many student's lives he helped shape. I send my warmest and sincerest condolences to Roxie and her extended family as well as to his sister and her family. Richard's love will always be with you. May he rest in peace, on the other side of the veil.......I will miss you, my friend.
My condolences to Roxie and family during this sad and difficult time. I was fortunate to have Mr Lehman as a teacher in the early 70's and still tell friends what a great teacher he was. He effortlessly took his classes on a year of learning.and the discovery of a world of science. Rest in peace Mr. Lehman. You will be missed and remembered always.
My science teacher in the 70's. He took us on field trips. He inspired me to become a science teacher in the elementary level. What was so awesome is that's years later, he was our tour guide at the Valley Nature Center when I took my class on a field trip.
Truly an "above and beyond the call of duty" type of teacher. Inventor, curriculum writer and teacher of the Aardvark Series science curriculum.
Bio 1, Bio 2, Field trips to Mexico's Rain Forest and Cozumel. Worked w National Geographic projects, photography, botanical scientist, State of Texas Secondary Biology Teacher of the year. He served as my cooperating teacher for my student teaching. Thank you Mr. Lehman for inspiring so many with your knowledge of science and the passion of teaching it. An educator like none other. R.I.P. dear sir.
Richard Lehman was such a big part of of my high school years. I learned so much from him, he made science fun. He scared the bejeesus out of me once, pulling a stuffed rattlesnake out of a drawer next to me when we were taking a test. I screamed, he said, just like a girl. I thought very seriously about becoming a marine biologist because of him, and did very well in all of my science classes in college because of the foundation he gave me. I haven't spoken to him in years, but my mother always kept me up to date on whatever news she heard. Goddess Bless and keep you,
Richard. Marion (McDonald) Cawley.
My sincere condolences to Mr. Lehman's wife and family. I remember him from when he was on our EDC board. He always had the best interest for the City of Weslaco. I loved to see him smile and enjoyed it when I would go to see him to sign checks so that I could see his gorgeous flowers. He had such amazing plants. And his poodles, who can forget them? He often brought them by the office. I am truly going to miss him. May he RIP.
A dear friend Richard Lehman, Weslaco, May, 2002.
My deepest sympathies to Roxie and all of Richard's family and friends. I know what a wonderful man he was and a good friend and teacher to many. May his soul be in peace.
This gentleman was perhaps one of the best teachers I had in my life. He had a passion for his subject and he knew how to teach it to us, his students. I will remember him for the great teacher that he was but, most importantly, for the positive influence he had on my life. Thank you so much for all you did for us, your students. Ruth Herrera Solis
Richard and I were close friends from grade school at Stephen F. Austin Elementary through graduation at Weslaco High School where we shared wonderful experiences, especially while in the WHS Band. After graduation, we met again at Southwestern University where he studied Biology and I studied Music Education. We were both members of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity while we were at S.U. One of the most memorable times for me is when Richard and three other of our fraternity brothers took a trip into Mexico where we saw some awesome sights and visited some fascinating cities, among them Monterey, Saltillo, Matehuala (where we had really HOT mole sauce!), San Luis Potosi, Guanajuato with the tunnels under the city and Mexico City. I will never forget those wonderful memories as we drove in Richard's Buick Riviera where all of the people stared at the flashiness of the car! I am so sad to hear of Richard's passing, but I did get to speak to him last year on the phone which was great to hear his voice again as I have lived in Virginia most of my life after graduating from Southwestern, but in those earlier years, we kept in touch and we talked about his trips into the jungles of Mexico, the love of his life back then, and I have read that he continued his love of nature up until his passing. Note that upon receiving the obituary, I provided a link to the Alumni Office at Southwestern and I have received notice that they will post his passing in the school magazine and he will be remembered by name at the Homecoming Worship Service in 2019.
I never met Mr. Lehman but know of the family. My sister-in-law Yvonne Ellison spoke of Richard often, with nothing but kind and loving words. Condolences to the family and friends.
Mr. Lehman - a beautiful, caring individual. I will not ever forget learning from him in high school, all four years of biology. Most sincere condolences to all family and friends. mss
My sincere sympathies on the passing of Mr. Lehman. I was one of his students. There are teachers that leave a mark and you never forget. Mr Lehman was that teacher. May the Lord receive him into his Glory.
Mr. Lehman inspired my love for biological science. His influence on my life is immeasurable. He was one of my favorite teachers. I am grateful for all he taught me.
I'm sorry to read about Richard' passing. He was our customer, and also, our dear friend. I remember his long conversations with my late husband Al. Richard' contribution to the city of Weslaco is immense and well appreciated. by his community. May his memory be for a blessing to his dear wife and family.
Richard has left us but he has left us many wonderful gifts.. He opened so many eyes to nature, through his work as a gifted educator and a great initiator and supporter of conservation, he also leaves us many memories that will live on through the places he touched and restored, those he influenced by his love of the natural world. Rest in peace Richard, dear friend--We love you and thank you for your life and work. May the peace and understanding of God's love be with you for evermore.
I am so sorry to hear of Richard's passing. In addition to all of his wonderful work in the Mid-Valley, I must note that he was instrumental in the creation of the beautiful butterfly gardens and many of the exhibits at the Edinburg Birding Center. It was my pleasure to work with him and to call him a friend.
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