As a teenager, Richard worked on a construction crew doing work on several golf courses under the guidance of golf course architect William H. Neff.
He enlisted in the US Navy in 1947, and then again in 1953. In between enlistments, he served as a missionary for the LDS Church in New Zealand and neighboring islands. His experience among the Maori became a major influence in his life, which he cherished deeply. Richard studied Landscape Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, graduating in 1959 at the top of his class. Golf course and park design became his passion, and he designed many courses and parks in the US and abroad. Courses designed include Woodward Park in Fresno, Ridgemark in Hollister, and Anaheim Hills in Los Angeles.