Cover photo for Richard Rock's Obituary
1937 Richard 2023

Richard Rock

June 26, 1937 — September 20, 2023

 

Richard “Dick” Rock, 86, of Albuquerque, NM, passed away on Wednesday, September 20, 2023, due to complications from chronic illness.

 

Richard was born in Sterling, Illinois, on Saturday, June 26, 1937, to William Patrick Rock and Mary Rose (Keenan) Rock. In Sterling, he attended St. Mary’s Grade School where he was famous for sneaking home during lunch and hanging out in the family’s basement. Given his tendency towards truancy at such a young age, who knew that he would become one of the most sought-after Orthopaedic Surgeons in Albuquerque and surrounding areas. He went on to graduate from Newman High School, where he played football and fell for his first love: a shiny, brass trombone. He played trombone with passion and gusto through his adult years, venturing to play on Bourbon Street in New Orleans whenever possible.

 

Richard completed college at St. Mary’s College in Winona, Minnesota, then attended medical school at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. From there, he enlisted with the Public Health Service, engaging in a 2-year general surgical role at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center. It was at PIMC that he always said he really honed his medical expertise. Following his honorable discharge from service, Richard took up Orthopaedic residency at Parkland Health, Dallas, Texas. In 1970, he opened his private Orthopaedic practice, Rock Professional Association, in Albuquerque, where he holistically cared for patients for 35 years. Upon retiring, he instructed medical residents at the VA Medical Center for 10 years, and then retired again. Richard was a tremendous surgeon, who truly loved the practice of medicine. Many patients, nurses and fellow doctors have shared stories conveying his passionate professionalism, ability to heal, and resounding humor within the closed doors of the operating room.

 

While Richard’s roots were in the Midwest, a poolside vision in a brown sundress caught his eye as he emerged from the water and landed him in the Southwest for the rest of his life. Her name was Mary Ellen Elsbrock, a young elementary school teacher with the prettiest brown eyes he ever saw. They met in Phoenix, married in Albuquerque in 1966, then moved as newlyweds to a small apartment on Lover’s Lane in Dallas, so that Richard could finish his residency. In Dallas, they had three children, Richard, Jr., Mary Gene, and Robert. The fourth child, Catherine Ann, was born when they returned to Albuquerque, where they spent the rest of their years.

 

Richard treasured his four children and embraced special moments with them, taking them on numerous road trips in the family bus, and many extended stays at the Pecos family cabin on the banks of Winsor Creek. In Pecos, he evolved into an accomplished fly fisherman and hit the rivers immediately upon seeing the mayflies dance on the surface at dusk. He tended to the cabin area and the yard at home with a meticulous and patient green thumb, planting sunflowers, daffodils, tulips, paperwhite lilies and his favorite hollyhocks. He often presented his children with hollyhock dolls when they helped him in the garden. To Richard, hummingbirds were delightful jewels of the sky, and he kept them very well fed every summer.

 

He was proud to tell people that all four of his children pursued post graduate degrees. To Richard, education was paramount to success. He enjoyed his role as Grandpa Rock to five grandchildren, jump starting their future educational and professional endeavors with inspirational guidance. He believed the greatest gift to give is education. Given his exceptional intelligence in medicine, languages and music, he was a humble but true Renaissance Man. Raised in the Roman Catholic tradition, Richard was a man of devout faith, able to espouse the rational principles of science with the heavenly tenets of his belief system and lived his life according to a simple guiding motivation: caring for and serving others.

 

He had a witty personality and hearty laugh, which often made him the life of the party. True to his musical past, Richard practiced trombone earnestly and actively led his band, Jazz a la Carte for nearly 40 years, and was also part of the Riverside Jass Trio. They played gigs at weddings, railroad yards, international hotels, Old Town, the zoo, and pretty much any venue with a platform. He especially loved traditional jazz, and his playing roused more than one listener to wave their white handkerchiefs, or hats, in excited approval.

 

Richard is survived by his son, Richard Rock, Jr. and wife, Kelly; daughter, Mary Gene Rock; son, Robert Rock and wife, Gretchen Deutsch; daughter, Catherine Rock; grandchildren, Connor, Danny, Steven, Quinn, and Keenan; and numerous nieces and nephews. Richard will be profoundly missed by family and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, William and Mary Rock; his brothers, William and David Rock, his sister, Mary Pat Hubert; and his beloved wife, Mary Ellen Rock.

 

Visitation, followed by Rosary, will be held on Friday, September 29, 2023, starting at 11:30 a.m., at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, 4020 Lomas Blvd. NE. Mass will begin at 12:00 p.m. The Very Rev. Stephen Schultz, Pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, will be officiating. Burial will follow at Mount Calvary Cemetery, at 1:30 p.m. A Reception will follow at FRENCH-University at 2:30 p.m.

 

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School, 4020 Lomas Blvd. NE; The family of Richard wishes to thank the caregivers from Ambercare Hospice Albuquerque for their compassionate care in his final days, along with his personal caregivers, Rachel Garcia and Dorothy Crespin.

 

 

To send flowers to the family in memory of Richard Rock, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Rosary

Friday, September 29, 2023

11:30am - 12:00 pm (Mountain time)

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Mass

Friday, September 29, 2023

12:00 - 1:00 pm (Mountain time)

Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church

4020 Lomas Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110

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Graveside Service

Friday, September 29, 2023

1:30 - 2:30 pm (Mountain time)

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Reception

Friday, September 29, 2023

2:30 - 4:30 pm (Mountain time)

FRENCH - University Reception Center

1111 University Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87102

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