Richard L. Nau


Rick was born Richard Lee Nau on Aug. 24, 1953 in Cheboygan, to Mr. and Mrs. Richard Elmer (Patsy Jean Ranville) Nau. Growing up Rick learned to fish and hunt, served as an altar boy at St. Charles Catholic Church and was usually up before the sun to get to Pellston for the "Airplane edition" of the Detroit newspapers for delivery before breakfast. After school he would deliver the Cheboygan Daily Tribune. As a paperboy he won a trip to the World's Fair in Montreal and trips to Mackinac Island where he swam in the pool at the Grand Hotel.
After the family moved to Flint he gathered lost golf balls and picked fruit to earn spending money. He played guitar and sang in a band and raced cars at Auto City. He studied graphic design at the Genesee Area Skill Center, graduating from Flint Northern in 1971 after which he joined the U.S. Army and served in Germany with the Berlin Brigade.
Rick earned the Expert Infantryman Badge, was a guard of Deputy Fuhrer of the Third Reich Rudolf Hess at Spandau Prison, and began a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. His experiences behind the Iron Curtain had a profound effect on the rest of his life.
Rick attended college on the GI Bill, first attending C.S. Mott Community College where he met his future wife in the Language Learning Lab, then graduation from the University of Michigan-Flint where he interned for Sen. Donald W. Riegle Jr., ran for student body president and was a founding member of the Chi Omega Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society. Rick eventually received his Master of Arts in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, which allowed him to study under Ernest May at Harvard University's Center for European Studies and John F. Kennedy School of Government.
After graduation Rick edited the third edition of "A bibliography of the art of turning and lathe and machine tool history with additional references to books and periodical articles which are of interest in relation to these subjects" by Sydney George Abell, John Leggat, Warren Greene Ogden Jr. and co-authored with Warren "Notes on the history and provenance of Holtzapffel lathes: with numerous corrections and additions to the transcript of the Holtzapffel register of lathes."
While in New England, Rick was able to fish the Androscoggin, Batten Kill, Deerfield, and Green Rivers among others. He tied many flies and built his own fly rod from a Sage blank. His watercolor of a Rainbow Trout is a favorite.
Rick was ambidextrous but always looking for that perfect pen for "lefties" which of course was discontinued as soon as he discovered it.
Rick was very proud of his Ranville heritage and would often repeat the highlights at family gatherings, great-grandfather, Captain Alexander, came from French Canada and settled on Mackinac Island, commercial fishing and later as captain on various Great Lakes boats including the car ferries before the bridge was built, grandfather, Wilbur, a lighthouse keeper serving at various Great Lakes lights including Middle Island, Whitefish Point and Stannard Rock.
As a historian, Rick spent much of his time in libraries and bookstores, especially after marrying his wife, Katheryn Ann Carrier, on June 15, 1979 in Flint. She obtained her Masters in Library Science from the University of Michigan.
Sometime after moving to Traverse City, Rick was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, which resulted in a number of infections. After his heart stopped during one foot surgery, he had to have heart by-pass surgery. He was later diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure and then Peripheral Artery Disease, the poor circulation in his legs being reason for his slow healing. Off and on infections requiring surgery, IV antibiotics, sporadic sugar control, all took their toll. He was in the hospital over nearly every major holiday. After winning the battle with an infection in the spring of 2018, it regrouped and he nearly lost the war completely in the fall of 2018, losing both legs below the knee, saved him then.
When Rick died Aug. 9, 2019, he left behind his loving wife, Katheryn; his brothers, Dennis Nau, Joseph (Christine) Nau, Wilbur "Chris" (Jamie) Nau, all of Flint; sister, Marilyn "Robin" (Robert) Heid; brothers-in-law, Harry "Hank" Helcher, and John Carrier; sister-in-law, Susan Carrier Reardon, also of Flint; many nieces and nephews, including Michael (Lisa) Helcher and Patricia "Tricia" (Tim) Truett with whom he lived for a time, and an increasing number of great-nieces and nephews; aunts and uncles, especially aunt Nancy Austin; many cousins of varying degrees but especially Gerald "Jerry" (Fay), of Charlevoix who shared hospitality and patiently listened to Rick's stories.
Rick was preceded in death by his parents; and sister, Richine Helcher.
Katheryn would like to thank the doctors, nurses, aides, lab techs, surgeons, food service delivery and others at Munson Hospital, the nursing staff of MediLodge of GTC and the Villas at Traverse Point for Rick's care. Thank you to our families for their love and friendship. Thank you also to the Traverse Area District Library family and friends whose support has been priceless.
Rick is buried in the family plot, Lakeview Cemetery, Mackinaw City.
A memorial gathering will take place Saturday, Aug. 24 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home.
Donations in Rick's memory may be directed to the Edwin Ginn Library at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.
Please visit to share your condolences with the family.
The family is being well cared for by Reynolds Jonkhoff Funeral Home.
To plant a tree in memory of Richard L. Nau, please visit Tribute Store.
Published on August 21, 2019
Plant a tree in memory
of Richard
Plant a tree

Obituary published in


Print Guestbook

A place to share condolences and memories.

Share your condolences and special memories.
The guestbook expires on November 18, 2019.

1 posts

Uncle Leo (Lee) and Aunt Lou Wichita Ks.
Aug 21, 2019
So sorry for your loss, Katheryn. Hugs and prayers.