Richard Behm of Stevens Point, WI died at home of heart complications on Thursday, July 11th, 2019 in the arms of his wife of 35 years and one true love, Mary Behm. Rich, a retired UWSP English professor, was 70 years old.
Rich was born in Tiffin, Ohio on October 14, 1948 to Jayne and Delmer Behm. He attended St. Meinrad’s Seminary and School of Theology in Indiana for high school and this early study of religious theology began his life-long interest in storytelling, poetry, and creative writing. Rich attended the University of Saint Thomas, Minnesota to study English. After graduating, he served in the United States Air Force and later earned both his MFA and PhD at Bowling Green State University in Ohio in Creative Writing.
Richard and Mary (Norby) were married on April 27th, 1984 in Mary’s hometown, New London, Wisconsin. Their lives centered around their shared love of teaching, education, nature, family, and dear friends. Their greatest joy was raising their daughter, Jessica, and their greatest blessing was the birth of their three beautiful grandchildren. As a family they enjoyed many adventures together. For 25 years they trekked the Minnesota Boundary Waters with lifelong friends, Tom and Sue Dominik, and delighted in hiking, camping, and visiting historical and natural landmarks across the United States.
Rich cherished his 30-year tenure as a Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. In this capacity, he was the head of the University Tutoring and Learning Center (TLC), served as an acting Dean, and particularly relished teaching pedagogy and writing methodologies for new teachers. His poems were published across multiple journals, including Amelia, The Kenyon Review, The Sewanee Review, and The Southern Review. His outdoor sporting articles may be found in Field & Stream, Sporting Classics, and Wisconsin Outdoor Magazine. He will be remembered as a fine poet, a teacher of teachers, and a supportive colleague.
Rich will be dearly missed by his wife Mary, his daughter Jessica and her partner John, his grandchildren Lilya, Lilac, and Johnny of New York, and his brother, Steve and sister-in-law Kathy of Tiffin, Ohio. Mary is one of eight siblings, and Rich is held in the hearts of his many nieces, nephews, and large extended family. Rich was adored by his wife, daughter, and grandchildren as a gentle, generous, and gifted man.
Each Christmas, Rich composed a poem for the season which he shared with friends and family. His family wishes to share one of their most cherished poems with a wider community who was blessed to have Richard as a friend, teacher, mentor, and colleague.
The Born Again Chorus
It’s claimed that none know why birds sing
Loudest at dawn and just before.
Some think they sing to pass the time
Until the light grows bright enough
For them to see, to feed, or mate.
Some think it is their way to say
Here I am, I am here, here, here.
Still others speculate the light
Brings warmth: it is the blood then that
Circulates into vibrant song.
It’s the last I think is closest
To the stone of truth. Birds sing not
To announce the day, but to call
The sun up. For without their song
The pall of night would never end.
Praise bird, then, each sacred morning;
Bless cardinal and jay, junco,
Chickadee, robin, wren, sparrow,
Bless grosbeak, nuthatch, siskin, lark,
Bless even the death-voiced crow.
Give thanks to warbler, nuthatch, owl,
To goldfinch, killdeer, swallow, dove,
To each and every bird in bush
Or nest, on branch or wing, singing
Up the light, our sweet rekindling.
A memorial gathering to honor the life of Richard Behm will be held on August 10, from 1-4pm, in the Alumni Room of the Dreyfus University Center, UWSP.