Obituary, Richard Leo Twiss, 1954-2013
Richard Leo Twiss, Tayoate Ob Najin “He Stands with his People,” passed from this life and into the next, February 9, 2013 in Washington, DC encircled by his wife, Katherine, and sons Andrew, Phillip, Ian, and Daniel. Richard was 58.
Richard was born on the Rosebud Reservation, South Dakota among his mother Winona (Larvie) LaPointe’s people, the Sicangu Band of the Rosebud Lakota/Sioux. Richard's father, Franklin (Buster) Twiss (deceased) was Oglala from the Pine Ridge Lakota/Sioux Reservation also in South Dakota.
Until age seven, Richard lived in Rosebud, a town of 600, on the reservation. In 1961, Richard’s mom moved the family from the reservation to Denver, then Klamath Falls, and eventually to Silverton, Oregon where Richard attended the third through twelfth grades. Richard’s mom ensured they made regular summer visits back home in order to stay connected with family and culture.
After graduating from high school in 1972, Richard moved back to Rosebud to attend Sinte Gleska, “Spotted Tail” College. It was here that he became involved in the American Indian Movement. During this tumultuous time Richard strengthened his connection with relatives, and deepened his appreciation for Lakota culture.
Richard wandered for a while, ending up on the island of Maui in Hawaii, where late one night, alone on a deserted beach, Creator responded to Richard’s desperate prayer, making Himself known to him. From that night in 1974 until his passing, Richard was on a spiritual journey to live a meaningful life as a Lakota follower of the Jesus Way.
Richard met and fell in love with Katherine Kroshus, of Vancouver, WA, wedding her in 1976. Richard’s proudest legacy is his four boys: Andrew (Diana), Phillip, Ian (Toni), Daniel, and grandsons, Ezra and Leo.
In February 1997, Richard and Katherine founded the non-profit ministry of Wiconi International. Through Wiconi, Richard and Katherine touched the lives of many thousands of people. Richard also co-founded NAIITS (North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies); he was chairman of the board for My People International, a member of the CCDA (Christian Community Development Association), and co-founder of Evangelicals4Justice. In 2011, Richard earned his doctorate, a D.Miss. from Asbury Theological Seminary. Until his passing, Richard continued his teaching career through the NAIITS program, Portland State University, and other institutions of higher education.
Richard authored a number of books, pamphlets and articles over the years. His first book, One Church, Many Tribes, reached many people with the message of an inculturated faith in Jesus.
Richard’s mother Winona LaPointe, sisters Elaine & Laurie LaPointe, nieces Stacy (Mark), Melissa (Tony), Jana, and their children remain to continue his memory. His brother Tom passed before Richard in 2010.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Wiconi International that will allow the continuation of the work to which Richard and Katherine had committed their lives. A public Celebration of Life service will be held on Sunday, March 10; further details will be published later.
In the Lakota tradition, there is no word for goodbye. Instead, we say,
“Toksa ake (We’ll see you again), son, husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend!”