Dick Oliphant says his life was not a ‘juicy tidbit’ kind of life

INDIAN WELLS — One of the desert’s best-known and highly respected developers and quintessential gentleman, Dick Oliphant, has authored a book that is now available on Amazon. The 296-page paperback book sells for $19.99.

According to Amazon, “Building California’s Coachella Valley: The Life and Times of Richard R. Oliphant” is the autobiography of Richard R. Oliphant, a leader in construction and development in California’s Coachella Valley for decades. Dick Oliphant is an entrepreneur, business leader, philanthropist, educational promoter, and a former city councilman and mayor of Indian Wells, California.

In 2017, the Desert Sands Unified School District Board of Education voted unanimously to name the newest elementary school in the district after Richard R. Oliphant. The new school, which will house 600 pupils, will be open for the 2018-2019 school year. It replaced the Dwight Eisenhower Elementary School.

Uken Report (UR) asked Oliphant a series of questions.

UR: Why did you write the book and what was your motivation?

Dick Oliphant: Looks like you need to read my book.  In the Forward I explain my reason for writing the book.  The main reason was, I was pushed by friends and encouraged to do so.  I ignored it for a long time, but when COVID hit, I suddenly had time with nothing to do.  A first in my life.  So I sat down and for the next two years, I sat at the keyboard and wrote.

UR: How long did it take you to write?

Dick Oliphant: I spent two years, off and on, typing the book.

UR: Can you provide a synopsis of the book?

Dick Oliphant: The book is my full life story.  It follows my way at all ages as I grew and became involved in business and charity work.  It traces my life in Iowa City, Iowa then to Tucson, Arizona.  We finally had good reason to move to California.  We moved first to Palm Springs, then to Indio, followed by Palm Desert and finally Indian Wells.  It traces my career and my involvement with politics.  It identifies many of the organization I founded or helped found.  Being a 61-year resident of the Valley, I had the opportunity to be part of its growth and had some influence on that growth.

UR: When and where did you write it?

Dick Oliphant:  I wrote the entire book on my home computer.

UR: As a tease for readers, can you give us a peek into a juicy tidbit?

Dick Oliphant: My life was not a juicy tidbit kind of life. Many people have not realized I started with the Dept of Forestry as a firefighter volunteer in 1963 and served to 1993. During that time, I became an EMT and was the first Fire Chief of Indian Wells.

UR: Did you have any help?

Dick Oliphant: When I finished writing it, I hired a professional editor to read and correct it.  He did a great job and did not change any of my writing style.

UR: Where do you live?

Dick Oliphant: I live … in Indian Wells, in a house I built for Jan 51 years ago.

UR: How old are you?

Dick Oliphant: On Sept. 23, I celebrated my 90th birthday.

UR: What is the key takeaway from this book? There are several takeaways, depending on who is reading it.  There is a lot of history of the city, the Valley and my life in Iowa.  Different people find different interests.

When and why did you move to the Coachella Valley? Jan and I moved with our five children to the Valley in September 1962, 61 years ago.

UR: Do you consider yourself an expert on the Coachella Valley? Why or why not?

Dick Oliphant: Certain parts of the Valley, I probably have as much knowledge of as anyone else.

For whom is this book intended? I wrote it for my family. As you will see in the book, I have a large family and it keeps getting larger.

UR: Anything you would like to add?

Dick Oliphant: Thank you, Cindy, for your interest in my book.  I hope you enjoy the read.


Image Sources

  • Dick Oliphant book: Illustration