Richard L. Messenger, Sr. went home to be with the Lord on February 1, 2021 at the age of 84.  Richard was born February 24, 1936 a son of the late Albert and Emma (Westmiller) Messenger.

He was a lifelong resident of the Ithaca area until 2012 when he relocated to Ovid, NY.  Richard had spent the last six months living at Bethany Village Assisted Living in Horseheads, NY.  

Richard ‘Dick’ had worked in the automotive industry in Ithaca his entire career.  He was the owner/operator of several local gas stations and repair shops.  He semi-retired in 1979, but was drawn back to the business.  He ended his career after a 20 year stretch as the Service Manager for Pritchard Dodge.

He was well known locally as a dirt track stock car driver from an early age through the 1970’s. He raced at Dryden Speedway, Dundee, and Five Mile Point Speedway to name just a few.  An avid NASCAR fan, he had attended races at Daytona, Richmond & the Poconos.

He was survived by his wife Judith (Chaffee) by only eight days as she passed away on February 9, 2021.  He is survived by his sons Richard (Rachel) Messenger (Fairfax, VA), Jeffrey Messenger (Orlando, FL), daughters Jennifer (Glenn) Beardsley (Trumansburg, NY) and Shawn (Charlie) Johnson (Blue Ridge, TX), and son-in-law Larry Jordan (Ithaca, NY).  He is also survived by brothers Donald (Janet) Messenger (Avon Park, FL), Philip Messenger (Myerstown, PA) and his step-brother Chuck (Candy) Mosher (Newfield, NY).  In addition to his 8 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews as well as Judy’s extended family he is also survived by his beloved cousins, the Westmiller family.

Richard was preceded in death by his wife of 57 years Mary (Woodin) Messenger, his daughters Susan ‘Kathey’ Jordan and Stephanie Gaynor, and his brother Keith E. Messenger.

The family would like to thank Dr. Skezas, Ithaca Guthrie, for his kind care for our Dad for the last 20+ years.  He always had time for a Dodge Caravan story.  We would also like to thank the phenomenal staff at Bethany Village Assisted Living.  They welcomed Dad & Judy and they felt like immediate family.  Finally, we would like to thank the courageous staff who work the COVID floor at Corning Guthrie Hospital.  The compassion they show for patients that are being ravaged by this horrible disease is truly heroic.

In accordance with his wishes, there will be no calling hours or public services.  The family asks those that would like to make a contribution in Richard’s memory to kindly consider the Tompkins County SPCA, 1640 Hanshaw Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850 or The Seneca County Office of the Aging Meals-On-Wheels, Attn:  Angela Reardon, 2465 Bonadent Dr., #4, Waterloo, NY 13165.

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at