Richard Verna

Sept. 1, 1923 –
Sept. 18, 2011

Montrose resident Richard Verna died Sept. 18 due to lung and heart disease. He was 89.

Born to Italian parents on Sept. 1, 1923, Verna spent most of his life in Montrose where he kept busy as a cabinetmaker.

“It wasn’t just building cabinets, he was a handy man,” said his wife Janet. Some of the furniture Verna built included most of the furniture in his home, a TV easel, a 7-foot tall cupboard and medical cabinets for his optometrists.

Janet said he went out of his way to create furniture for her family.

“My family’s not even his family and he built a great wonderful entertainment center for my parents about a year ago,” she said. Verna also made a pool table for Janet’s son from a previous marriage.

“If anyone ever wanted anything from him he would just figure out a way to do it.”

While Verna possessed the skill and met the physical demands required for furniture making, he also endured several health problems. In 2004 he began having heart complications, suffering a heart attack and an aortic aneurysm. In 2005 he fought against throat cancer and underwent chemotherapy and radiation simultaneously. And in following years, Verna went through a 12-hour laryngectomy (a procedure in which part or all of the larynx is removed) and battled colon cancer.

But even through all the complications in his health, Verna was still making furniture in his late 80s.

“He was just fighting till the end. He was just that kind of a guy,” said Janet.

In addition to making furniture, Verna enjoyed spending time outdoors. He spent a lot of time camping and in national parks, and at one point embarked on a cross-country road trip with Janet. He also engaged in outdoor activities with his children, including his son Rick, with whom he went waterskiing, motorcycle riding, and camping.

“He was a great father, he was always there for me and never ever said no,” said Rick.

“One of our favorite things [to do] was to go down to Olvera Street and have taquitos,” said his daughter Jan Beyer.

Verna’s family said that he was always a helpful individual.

“He would help anyone that has ever needed help. He would pull over if someone was [broken] down on the freeway. He went out of his way to help people,” said Rick.

Verna is survived by his wife Janet; his daughters Jan Beyer and Nancy Brown; and son Rick Verna.