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Richard Maddox Combs Jr.

July 11, 2012
Adirondack Daily Enterprise

AIKEN, S.C. - A requiem Mass for Mr. Richard Maddox Combs Jr. will be celebrated by the Rev. Gregory Wilson at 10 a.m. Thursday, July 12, at St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church.

Interment will follow at Calvary Cemetery, Aiken, S.C. 29801. Pallbearers will be Van Santvoord, Ross "Ranny" Smith, Brett Vanderlaan, Richard Law, Robert Moldenhauer II and Richard Empoliti.

The family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, at Shellhouse Rivers Funeral Home, 715 East Pine Log Road, Aiken, S.C. 29803.

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Richard Maddox Combs Jr., 68, died Tuesday, July 3, 2012, at Select Specialty Hospital, Augusta, Ga., with his beloved wife, L.A. Combs, by his side.

Mr. Combs was born Nov. 3, 1943, in Baltimore, Md. He was an only child to Katherine Powell Noland Smith and the late Richard Maddox Combs, who was killed in combat during World War II without ever meeting his son. His mother remarried the late Van Santvoord Merle-Smith Jr., who adopted Richard as a toddler. Out of respect for his natural father, his name was unchanged.

Richard descended from a long line of West Point graduates including his grandfather, father and uncle Combs, and his grandfather and Dad Merle-Smith. His eldest American maternal grandfather was General George Washington, first president of the United States of America.

Because childhood rubella had left him almost entirely deaf, he was unable to serve in the Army. Instead, he embarked upon a career in finance, which he later abandoned to follow his passion for travel. A born navigator, he served as a maintenance mechanic, riding the high seas of the Aleutians. Until his health diminished in recent years, he also captained his own private yacht in Charleston.

His summers were spent at a family retreat in Keene Valley, where he achieved honorary membership to the prestigious 46ers club of the Adirondacks and was a long-standing member of the Keene Valley Volunteer Fire Department. It was in Keene Valley, where both Richard and L.A.'s parents became entrusted friends many years ago.

Richard and L.A. Combs moved to Aiken, S.C., in 1998, where Mr. Combs became a member of St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church. He was an active participant in the Edisto River Hounds, and delighted in serving as the tally ho wagon tour guide. He was a staunch supporter of polo and a member of the Aiken Polo Club, who could often be found watching games on historic Whitney Field from the quiet of the sidelines.

Mr. Combs was an innately reclusive, sensitive and private person. As such, he limited his social interactions with others so much that friends used to joke about him being "L.A.'s imaginary husband." Genuine and down-to-earth, he was most comfortable when he was close to nature.

He dedicated his life to studying volcanoes, world geography, weather patterns and politics. Mr. Combs insatiable quest to study weather patterns was the epitome of any renowned weatherman. Most people shudder at the thought of inclement weather, but at home he was dubbed, celebrated, and frequently referred to as "Climatologist Combs" - a degree he earned with the highest of honors.

He came full circle in life with the purchase of an older home alongside the pristine Hitchcock Woods. The "minor changes" to his gem in the rough quickly blossomed into a full-scale, multi-year remodel project. He took great joy in serving as the primary architect, overseeing the planning and watching the demolition. Richard painstakingly ensured that handicap-accessible features were incorporated throughout his jewel "Maddox Paddocks."

Mr. Combs served all creatures great and small. Among many for whom he cared, his favorites were his first pony, "Chinkee," and his last dog, "Weasel."

He is survived by his beloved wife, L.A. Combs; his mother, Katherine Merle-Smith Thomas; his children: Richard Maddox "Terry" Combs III (Milwaukee, Wis.), Katherine P. "Kelly" Combs (Lake Barrington, Ill.), Lisa Nason ( Warwick, R.I.), Dr. Kimberly "Kim" Vanderlaan (Ft. Worth, Texas), Kristen Combs (Erie, Colo.), and Dana Leigh (Burgess Hill, West Sussex, U.K.); grandchildren: Declan Hunter Combs, Phoebe Eliza Combs, Quentin Nason, Emma Nason, Kai Vanderlaan, and Maddox Leigh; half-brothers: Van Santvoord, Edmond "Ted" Merle-Smith, Grosvenor Merle-Smith, Barton Merle-Smith; half-sister Katherine "Katie" Dawson; several nieces and nephews; and among many, his cousin, Richard Maddox Combs II, and beloved cousin, Ross "Ranny" Smith, whom he considered as a brother.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be directed to STAR Riding Inc., P.O. Box 698, Aiken, SC 29802 or to St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church, P.O. Box 438, Aiken, SC 29802.

Expressions of sympathy for the Combs family may be left at www.shellhouseriversfuneralhome.com. Shellhouse-Rivers Funeral Home, 715 East Pine Log Road, Aiken, S.C.

 
 

 

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