Richard was born on June 5, 1946 and raised in Knoxville, TN. He attended Central High School, graduating in 1964. He attended the University of Tennessee, receiving a degree in Transportation Logistics. He entered the Music Masterís program at University of North Dakota in 1973. Although, he did not complete the program, he had the honor of conducting the Winnipeg Symphony in an evening for student conductors.
Richard has been married for 37 years to Debbie Beaver Way and they have 3 children and 2 grandchildren. After playing with the True Tones, he played with the band, Sons and Lovers. With this band, he was part of the USO tours. While at UT, he ran the Air ROTC Drum and Bugle Corp. In 1965 he played the drums with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. He completed 23 years as a pilot in the military and flew for USAir as a pilot for 22 years.