Richard Caravia

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Richard Caravia, 71, of Smithton, IL, born December 27, 1951, in Honolulu, Hawaii, died Sunday, January 8, 2023, at Memorial Hospital East, Shiloh, IL.

Rich was a devoted husband, loving father, and loyal brother. He graduated from Belleville West High School in 1970. While in high school, he was a triathlete and played football, basketball, and baseball. Rich went on to attend Western Illinois University on a sports scholarship and continued to play both football and baseball. He was a part of the 1974 Hall of Fame Western Illinois Baseball Team. Rich graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business and spent his life working for Peabody Energy. Rich loved playing sports and shared that love of sports with his son, Austin. He coached his son and many other athletes for years.  Rich made an impact on the lives of so many kids through coaching, as well as being a beloved driving instructor. One of his favorite pastimes was following the Freeburg Volleyball Team and cheering them on.

Richard “Bear” Caravia touched the lives of all that had the pleasure of knowing him. Most knew him as loud, but his close friends knew the louder he was the more he loved you.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Maria, nee Ometer, Caravia.

Surviving are his wife, Brenda, nee Cleek, Caravia;
a son, Austin (Caitlin) Caravia;
three siblings, Charles (Vicky) Caravia, Grace (Ken) Martin, and Joey (Ann) Caravia;
seven nieces and nephews, Philip (Sarah) Caravia, Paul (Jenna) Caravia, Nicole (Ricky) Driver, Eric (Dave Miller) Martin, Mercy (Pat) Ferrel, and Angie (Kevin Burrows) White;
and numerous great-nieces and great-nephews.

Memorials may be made to American Heart Association or American Diabetes Association . Condolences may be expressed to the family online at

Visitation:  Friends may visit from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, January 15, 2023, at George Renner & Sons Funeral Home, Belleville, IL.

Funeral:  Funeral services will be at 7 p.m. Sunday, January 15, 2023, at George Renner & Sons Funeral Home, Belleville, IL, with Msgr. William McGhee officiating.

Burial will be at Lake View Memorial Gardens, Fairview Heights, IL, at a later date.


39 Comments on Richard Caravia

Doug Becker said : Guest Report Jul 01, 2023 at 1:55 PM

I remember Rich being a great baseball player in grade school in Pickstown, South Dakota....then he moved and I often wondered where he and his family went...thought I might see his name in MLB someday....Remember brother Chuck and sister Grace well also. My condolences....

  • Dubuque
  • Iowa
Mel Weith said : Guest Report Jan 29, 2023 at 8:52 AM

To the family - I haven't seen Rich since high school, but I will always remember Bear as a great football player and friend. My best memory was his quote after a football game - "I ran more than 300 yards, and didn't cross the goal line once! He will be missed by everyone, but the memories will never fade.

  • Davenport
  • FL
George Shea said : Guest Report Jan 19, 2023 at 3:49 PM

My condolences to the Caravia family. It is sad to lose such a wonderful and valued person. Rich was one of the finest young men I was fortunate enough to coach at Belleville West. He was a fine athlete and even a better person. May the precious memories of your time together give you strength and peace.

  • Belleville
  • Illinois
Christy Dewald said : Guest Report Jan 16, 2023 at 1:10 PM

Dear Caravia: losing rich is immeasurable. I agree so much with the other condolences… his infections smile, his friendly spirit, and his leadership in sports. We all followed him, and I hope we still are today! He is indeed playing on the field of dreams we call heaven. Christy

  • Belleville
  • IL
Dennis Latinette said : Guest Report Jan 15, 2023 at 8:34 AM

Shocked to hear about Rich! He was a great personality and team player! I played baseball on Belleville west team with him and remember his impressive home runs that never ended! Miss you Rich!

  • Belleville
  • Illinois
Kevin miller said : Guest Report Jan 15, 2023 at 8:08 AM

So sorry to hear about Rich’s passing. Many great memories growing up next door to his parents and family.

  • Belleville
  • Il
Rich Poole said : Guest Report Jan 14, 2023 at 11:17 PM

So sorry to hear this. Please accept my heartfelt sympathy to all the family. He was a good friend.

  • Belleville
  • Illinois
George Rudis said : Guest Report Jan 14, 2023 at 6:47 PM

To the family of Rich Caravia, better known as "Square Bear". Bear was a kind and humble person along with being an extraordinary athlete. Of all my WIU teammates, he left an impression on me which I have tried to model my whole life. I had the honor of being in Bear's foursome for the Coach Pawlow outing a few years ago. We traded "heart" stories and bonded even closer. He was one of a kind. Glad to have had the opportunity to cross his path. God bless his soul. George Rudis

  • Springfield
  • IL
Heather Clark (Phillips) said : Guest Report Jan 14, 2023 at 2:03 PM

Brenda & Austin, I am so very sorry to hear of Rich’s passing! Our hearts go out to you. The boys and I look very fondly upon our days as your neighbors in Smithton. I’ll never forget Rich’s big smile and warm demeanor. Our deepest condolences, Heather, Sage, Gavin, & William

  • Natick
  • MA
Barbara & James Patrick said : Guest Report Jan 14, 2023 at 9:44 AM

So very sorry to hear about Rich. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all during this difficult time. May he rest in eternal your cousins..Barb, Jim and Family

  • Oro Valley
  • Arizona
Diane Nicks Sawyer said : Guest Report Jan 13, 2023 at 11:38 AM

My deepest sympathies to The Caravia family. Rich will be missed by all who knew him. Until you see him again, may your memories bring you comfort and peace.

  • Yuma
  • Colorado
Terry Whipple said : Guest Report Jan 13, 2023 at 8:50 AM

Sincere condolences to the Caravia Family! Rich was a teammate at WIU baseball and if you think of all the positive things that go with the word teammate - Rich encapsulated them all. His positive memory will last and last.

  • Iuka
  • IL
donald rule said : Guest Report Jan 13, 2023 at 7:47 AM

God rest his soul. played baseball with rich in high school.always positive.may brenda and family know that today rich plays ball on the field of dreams.

  • birmingham
  • al.
David A. Spradling said : Guest Report Jan 12, 2023 at 3:06 PM

Rich was a co-worker and a good friend. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family throughout this difficult time.

  • Evansville
  • IN
Lisa Clough said : Guest Report Jan 12, 2023 at 2:50 PM

Brenda, I was so shocked and sad to hear this news. As Janis said, we all thought the world of Rich. I am so sorry for you and Austin. Prayers and hugs to all. Lisa Clough

  • OH
Janis Serati said : Guest Report Jan 11, 2023 at 3:32 PM

Brenda, so very sorry for your loss. Everyone in our family thought the world of Rich. Prayers for you and Austin and family.

  • Fargo
  • ND
Dick and Fran Pawlow said : Guest Report Jan 11, 2023 at 3:29 PM

Rich was a very special person and a talented athlete. He made his family and friends proud of his accomplishments on and off the athletic field. Rich will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Brenda his family and relatives. Dick and Fran Pawlow

  • Fairview Heights
  • Illinois
Karen Carrasco said : Guest Report Jan 11, 2023 at 11:44 AM

Such kind words about my Cousin by Family & Friends who knew him well. We have vague memories of when we were growing up But what still remains is the Bond of our Ohana- my sincere condolences to Brenda,Austin&the Caravia Family for your loss I Pray your daily Thoughts of treasured memories will bring Love Smiles Comfort Peace and even Laughter- RILove Cuz

  • Phoenix
  • AZ
Steve Parker said : Guest Report Jan 11, 2023 at 11:28 AM

I knew Bear through his little brother Joey. Joey and I went to high school together where we were team mates on the basketball and baseball teams at Belleville West. It was through Joey and sports I met Bear. He was a great athelete but above all a great person. My condolences to the Caravia family and may Rich RIP!

  • Baton Rouge
  • Louisiana
Dennis & Tammy Connelly said : Guest Report Jan 11, 2023 at 8:57 AM

Brenda, Austin and the Caravia Family: We are so sorry for your loss. I met Rich thru Peabody and I will always thank God I did. You only come across individuals like Rich once in a lifetime. The passion he had for everything he was involved, for me it was his friendship. I knew him for half of my life but I wish I would have know him all my life. .He will be missed. Prayers for Rich and all of his family.

  • St. Louis
  • MO 63116
Frank Stout said : Guest Report Jan 11, 2023 at 8:51 AM

My condolences go out to the Caravia family. I was fortunate enough to play baseball with Bear at Western. He was a great teammate and a lot of fun to be around. He had a personality that could light up a room and a smile that would make everyone smile. I will always remember Bear as a great athlete, leader, and a wonderful human being. I know he will be missed dearly. My prayers go out to his family at this time. Rest in Peace!

  • Fort Myers
  • Florida
Mindy Strauss said : Guest Report Jan 11, 2023 at 8:23 AM

Brenda & Austin, Rich was such a wonderful man and a bright light to all who knew him. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Manchester
  • MO
Betty Massey said : Guest Report Jan 10, 2023 at 11:45 PM

I was saddened to hear of the death of Rich. My sincere sympathy to the family. May you remember the good times and eventually find Comfort in fond memories.

  • Belleville,
  • Illinois
Geri Koch (Bella Borja Grandma) said : Guest Report Jan 10, 2023 at 10:23 PM

Sorry for your loss !! Keeping your family in my prayers. I always enjoyed talking to you & Richard@ the Volleyball games!!

  • Venedy
  • Il
Angela and Jim Palmier said : Guest Report Jan 10, 2023 at 9:27 PM

Such a shock- so sorry to lose such a kind person and great neighbor. Brenda and family you are in our prayers.

  • Smithton
  • IL
Ed & Jan Gvazdinskas said : Guest Report Jan 10, 2023 at 8:41 PM

Brenda, Austin and the Caravia Family: We are so sorry for your loss. Rich (Bear as we affectionately called him) was one of the kindest, most tender hearted, humble, loyal, quiet leader and sincere people we have ever known. We were so fortunate to have Bear as our friend and special member of the WIU Baseball family. He will be so missed and forever remembered by us and all of the many lives he touched. Thank you Bear for being such a great friend, great person and great teammate.. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Ed & Jan Gvazdinskas

  • Naples
  • Florida
Connie Jean Goyda said : Guest Report Jan 10, 2023 at 8:37 PM

To the Caravia Family: I was blessed to know your Mother and dad here in the neighborhood @ St. Augustine of Canterbury. Your mothrr, Maria, was always so sweet at the K-Mart Deli with all os us. My sympathy 💐 to all of you. Prayers 🙏🙏🙏for all of you!

  • Belleville
  • Il
Susan Hill Burns said : Guest Report Jan 10, 2023 at 8:08 PM

Rich will be missed. May he rest in peace

  • St. Peter’s
  • MO
Greg “Peach” Johnson said : Guest Report Jan 10, 2023 at 7:37 PM

To The Carravia Family, My condolences go out to the entire Carravia Family! I’m saddened to hear about Bear passing he was a great man and athlete and friend who we’ll never forget the smile and laughter and his charisma! I was blessed to meant Bear during my playing days at Western with his brother Joey. He was always upbeat and friendly to me every time we were together! RIP Bear and you’re at Peace with your mom and dad! God Bless!

  • Galesburg
  • Illinois
Marc Silverman said : Guest Report Jan 10, 2023 at 7:27 PM

I worked with Rich and Brenda for over 30 years at Peabody. So sorry for your loss. I will miss his big smile.

  • IL
Michael Link said : Guest Report Jan 10, 2023 at 6:28 PM

I am so sad to see Rich leave us all. He was a great guy. The two of us went to Western Illinois and enjoyed our time there. The WIU Leatherneck family will greatly miss him. Years later he took up Golf and Rich was always happy on the golf course. I’m sure he is in Heaven with Joe (his Dad) enjoying lots of great sports stories. He will be sorely missed. My heart goes out to Rich’s family and we will keep them in our prayers.

  • Belleville
  • Ill
Mick Hoepfinger said : Guest Report Jan 10, 2023 at 6:00 PM

My sincere condolences to the family. Rich was a super gentleman that will be dearly missed.

  • Columbia
Tracey Powell said : Guest Report Jan 10, 2023 at 6:00 PM

I had the great fortune of being a good friend of Bear's thru high school and college. He was a tremendous athlete, competitor, and most of all, a beloved friend who touched many lives. Rest in peace brother, God bless his family and countless friends.

  • IL
Margie Hemmer said : Guest Report Jan 10, 2023 at 4:43 PM

Brenda and Austin: Words can’t express our sorrow and sadness about Rich. An extreme first class friend not only to us but to so many. Even as I write this it’s so hard to comprehend. We loved him so much. Hugs Margie and Steve Hemmer

  • IL
Daryl and Claudia Bense said : Guest Report Jan 10, 2023 at 2:11 PM

We are so sorry for your loss. Please know that our prayers are with you. God Bless

  • San Tan Valley
  • Az
Lynn Domescik said : Guest Report Jan 10, 2023 at 2:03 PM

Words cannot express how deeply saddened we are that we will never see that sweet smile, hear that infectious laugh or feel that tender hug. Our forever memories will get us through this that in this life we were touched by his friendship and someday we will again be reminiscing and laughing with him. We will continue to keep Brenda, Austin & the Caravia family in our prayers. RIP Bear ~ We will forever love you .

  • Riverside
  • OH said : Guest Report Jan 10, 2023 at 2:03 PM

Brenda. I am so sorry for your loss of Rich. He will be in my prayers

  • Millstadt
  • Illinois
Larry and Shelley Schott said : Guest Report Jan 10, 2023 at 1:23 PM

Brenda and Austin, We are so sorry for your loss. We loved our time getting to know you and Rich. He was genuinely a great guy and made coaching our son's in soccer a fun experience. Please take care of yourselves and know that our thoughts are with you. Love, Larry, Shelley, and Nolan Schott

  • Ormond Beach
  • Florida
Charlie Keller said : Guest Report Jan 10, 2023 at 12:43 PM

Rich will surely be missed by everyone that knew him. I worked with ‘Bear’ and played softball & basketball with Him at Peabody! He always had a smile on his face, and was a good Man and friend to many! Rest in peace ‘Bear’

  • St. Louis
  • Mo

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