Richard Lockerbie Rockwell, 93, of San Francisco, died peacefully at his Potrero Hill home on January 4, 2020.
He was born July 13, 1926 in Mason, Ohio, to Col. Robert Lockerbie and Mary (Dillatush) Rockwell. He was preceded in death by his four siblings: Peggy, Robert, Bill, and Frank. Richard never married nor had any children; he is survived by several nieces and nephews.
Richard attended San Bernardino Community College and served in the US Navy during WWII, aboard the USS Biloxi. His home port was San Francisco, and he immediately developed a lifelong enchantment with The City By The Bay.
Richard became a hairdresser, opening his own salon, The Golden Arches, on Clement Street, which he operated until 1988. His clients became his friends; his friends became his family. He built an extraordinary, diverse community of loved ones, who remained an immediate and integral part of his life over the next 60 years.
Richard’s interests and activities were as diverse as his friendships. He was an early member of several gay motorcycle clubs—taking 1st Place in the Heavyweight Bike Competition at the Rocky Mountaineers Motorcycle Club’s Golden Fleece Run in 1976. The Barbary Coasters honored him (“Rocky” Rockwell) as “Rider of the Year” in 1982; and he was Secretary of The Warlocks in 1983. He also was a longtime season ticketholder to the SF Giants and the 49ers, as well as to the SF Opera and the Ballet. He played Bridge and Canasta. He became a member of three Bay Area gay square dance clubs starting in 1996 and received his 20-year medallion award from the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs in 2017 at the age of 91. Richard was a member of and proudly marched with the Alexander Hamilton VFW Post 448 for over 40 years; when he no longer had the stamina to march, he nonetheless got up and out at 6:30 am on Veterans and Pride Days, to help the Post at staging and to cheer them on.
An avid gardener, Richard regularly tended his plot in the community garden atop Potrero Hill, delighting in being able to provide fresh vegetables to all who visited. He created a miniature English Garden in his backyard, and his home was always fragrant with fresh flowers and fruit.
Richard took up the study of Tai Chi in 2006. He remained devoted to his practice twice a week until late last year. He loved boasting that he’d walked with one of his beloved dog companions from his home near the top of Potrero Hill, down to AT&T Park and back on a regular basis—chatting up everyone he met along the way.
Among the many who will miss Richard’s sparkle and charm are his longtime devoted friend, Fabian Alvarado of Guerneville, and his latest and last little doggie girl, Mitzy.
All friends are invited to a Celebration of Life in Richard’s honor to be held on Saturday, March 14, from 2-4 pm at St. Gregory of Nyssa Church at De Haro and Mariposa streets.
Donations in Richard’s memory may be made to Muttville (Senior Dogs for Seniors) or to the SF GLBT Historical Museum.