Richard L. Bishop

August 12, 1931 ~ December 18, 2019 (age 88)


Richard L. Bishop, 88 of Urbana passed away at 8:11 p.m. Wednesday, December 18, 2019 at home. A celebration of the life of Richard L. Bishop, of Urbana, formerly of Philo, will be held on Sunday, March 1, 2020 at the Salt Fork House in the Homer Lake Forest Preserve, 2573 S. Homer Lake Road, Homer. The family is having an open house from 12:30 to 3:00 with speakers and sharing of memories at 1:00.


Mr. Bishop was born August 12, 1931 at Lake Odessa, MI, the son of Charles Clarkson and Mary Maurita (McClave) Bishop.  He married Dolores M. Prosek on June 12, 1954 and she survives.  He is also survived by his daughters, Marian Stone (Dave), Audrey Bishop (Richard Stout), Carol McCleary (David, Sr.), Dorothy Debolt (Jim), a son, Paul Bishop (Paula), a brother, Jordan Bishop (Joan), sisters Janet Flaugh (Joseph), Charlotte Egan, Margaret Richter (George), Elizabeth Bishop-Martin, and Kathleen Wageley. Also surviving are 9 grandchildren, Ethan Stone, Laura Santos-Bishop, David McCleary Jr. (Kelly), Darren McCleary, Meghan McCleary (Justin Drawz), Brian Debolt, Jessica Debolt, Adrianne Bishop, Arin Bishop and 3 great grandchildren Olivia, Margaret, and Finnian McCleary.  He was preceded in death by his parents and sisters, Barbara Piggott and Linda Wilcott.


Richard (Dick) grew up the middle of nine children on a dairy farm in Allegan, Michigan. After graduating from high school, he followed the footsteps of his older brother and sisters, attending Lake Michigan College. He then transferred to Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland, OH where he met his future wife, Dolores on a blind date. After graduation he and Dolores moved to Boston, MA so Dick could continue his studies in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned his Ph.D. in June 1959 and accepted a position as a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Illinois in Fall, 1959. During his career at Illinois he co-authored two textbooks and over 70 research articles. He retired from the University in 1997.


Growing up as part of a large family on a farm in Michigan impacted Dick’s life in a multitude of ways.  He loved to challenge himself physically and enjoyed commuting by bike from his home in Philo to the university. Indeed, he did so every day, including all winter, in 1968-1969. His biking was also a manifestation of a lifelong pursuit to improve the environment by reducing his personal impact upon it. He practiced reduce, reuse, and recycle long before it became the mantra of the environmental movement, partly because it was what he experienced as a child on the farm.  After retirement he became an active member and officer of the local chapter of the Sierra Club, pushing for environmental regulations to improve water and air quality in Central Illinois. His awareness of human impact on the environment was also evident when he traveled, which he loved to do. His preferred mode of travel, whether in the U.S. or overseas, was by walking, train, or bus.


Both of Dick’s parents were musical and he learned to play the piano as a child.  As an adult, music continued to be an important part of his life. He and Dolores sang in the Oratorio Society at the University of Illinois, and Dick played the organ in church and the piano for his children’s high school musicals. He continued to play the piano nightly until recently.


After retirement Dick developed a passion for genealogy which led to trips to cemeteries and county records offices in multiple states. He traced the Bishop family history to his 10th grandfather, John Bishop, who arrived in North America in 1639 and was one of the founders of Guilford, CT.


In 1985 Dick and Dolores moved into a house they built together on a wooded property near Urbana. He loved taking care of the large, old oaks on the property and safeguarding the new seedlings. The availability of more land also allowed him to have a large garden and orchard, activities he enjoyed until his death.


Dick was a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society, served on the Citizens Advisory Board of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District and was Secretary of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter, Prairie Group.


Memorials may be made to the American Mathematical Society, 201 Charles St., Providence, RI 02904 or to the Sierra Club Prairie Group, P.O. Box 131, Urbana, IL 61803. Condolences may be offered at

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