11/24/05 Come Home for Thanksgiving, Papa
The call came in on a Thanksgiving Eve. While most families were busy with preparations for their special meal together on this, the first of our winter season holidays, this family was trying to make sense out of senseless. They wondered how they were going to fill the empty space at the table, the one belonging to “Papa”, otherwise known as Richard Clark.
Richard, age 67, has been missing from Pleasanton, KS, since 10/16/05. That’s six weeks too long for the family that misses him and loves him. Richard’s daughter, Kim, has taken the position of the family advocate and spokesperson. She’s never had to do anything like this before in her life. She’s trying to hold herself together long enough to find her dad. She knows she has to stay strong for him.
Richard has suffered the effects of dementia for quite some time now. His mental state has deteriorated to the age level of a young child. He cannot dress himself, spell his name, or dial a phone number. Kim is concerned that he can no longer even name the city he is from. He also has diabetes, (not insulin dependent) thyroid problems, anemia, and may have trouble walking. Richard walked away from the home with no money, credit cards, or other possessions.
Local law enforcement called in area search teams and looked for Richard in about a 2 mile area around his rural home. Tracking dogs traced him to the middle of a field, and then lost the scent. It was as if he walked back out of the field. Kim thinks he may have done just that, and then hitched a ride with a truck driver. They live near 2 major highways. A truck driver, upon returning to the KC area, saw Richard’s story on the news, and called in, stating he was sure he picked up Richard in Ohio, and took him out to eat. Based upon things said in the conversation, and the types of food the man ate, Kim is also convinced that the man in OH is her father.
Richard is a retired truck driver. Kim says that he is a very social person and will be at ease talking to people anywhere. It is possible that a person could talk to him for a period of time and not realize something is wrong. She believes he may be hitching rides with truck drivers and going across the country. She said he would be much more comfortable doing this than going to a homeless shelter. Kim says: "Never in 47 years of marriage did he ever leave my mother for more than two days at a time even though he was an over the road truck driver. He loves mom more than words could explain. If he were in his right mind, he would be trying to get home to her.”
As Richard is from Kansas City, he may talk as if that is his hometown. In recent conversations, he told others they were moving back there.
Kim has confidence that her father is alive, but she fears what would happen if he were in a hospital or shelter and no one knew who he was. Also, because of HIPPA Laws, she is afraid the effort would not be made to find his family, even with the dementia.
Richard’s photo and information is being published in one trucking magazine, and was broadcast on XM radio, but more help is needed to locate him. If you see Richard, call the National Center for Missing Adults at 1-800-690-FIND, or Project Jason at 402-932-0095, or the Linn County Sheriff’s office at 913-795-2666.
Richard’s physical description is as follows:
Richard Lee Clark
Classification: Endangered Missing Adult
Alias / Nickname: Papa
Date of Birth: 1937-11-30
Date Missing: 2005-10-16
From City/State: Pleasanton, KS
Age at Time of Disappearance: 67
Height: 70 inches
Weight: 130 pounds
Hair Color: White
Hair (Other): With graying.
Eye Color: Brown
Identifying Characteristics: missing all teeth except for his front teeth.
Clothing: Black T-shirt, blue jeans, gray athletic shoes, leather belt.
Jewelry: Stainless steel windup watch.
Let’s do whatever we can to help fill that empty spot at the Thanksgiving table at Richard’s house.