RIP – Richard Tingen

RIP – Richard Tingen

By Dale Hoyt Palfrey

Richard Tingen 2021


It is my sad task to apprise Ojo del Lago readers of the untimely death of Richard Oscar Tingen, the founder of this long-standing publication and a close personal friend of mine.  He passed away Sunday, January 3 at age 76, spending his final days in a Guadalajara hospital where he was under care for various health issues.

Richard’s death leaves a deep void for his family, his cherished amigos, business associates and the community at large. He will stand out in memory as an astute entrepreneur, a pioneer in the lakeside real estate sector, an early Canadian settler here, a devoted family man and as jovial and engaging an individual one could ever hope to meet.

He was born March 14, 1944 in Ontario, Canada, the only son of five children raised by Max and Margaret Tingen. As a young man he worked with his father in a Canadian turkey breeding farm until the family relocated to Mexico in the early 1960’s.

While vacationing in Mazatlán in 1968 he met his future bride María del Refugio (Cuca) Velarde. Following their marriage the couple settled in the Chapala area where they brought up three offspring, David, Wendy and Samantha.

Tingen’s first line of work here was an account executive at the Allen W. Lloyd investment company, where we first crossed paths. He made a career change in 1976 when he and his wife opened Chapala Realty, now an affiliate of the Coldwell Banker chain. One of the area’s first real estate outfits, it has maintained leadership in the field to this day.

Chapala Realty was born in a former ice cream shop, located on Avenida Madero, across the street from Chapala’s plaza. As the business grew, the office moved into its current headquarters, a historic building situated just around the corner on Avenida Hidalgo. A few years later a branch office was established in Ajijic. 

In 1983 September, Tingen published the first edition of El Ojo del Lago, an eight-page English language periodical showcasing Chapala Realty listings, fleshed out with feature stories about local history and profiles of the area’s prominent artists and authors written by the late June and Cody Summers. When the couple retired, I was privileged to briefly fill their shoes. Others came aboard as editors in subsequent years as the magazine grew in size and scope. Now produced under the management of Tingen’s son David, El Ojo was recently passed on from long-time editor Alejandro Grattan-Dominguez to the capable hands of Victoria Schmidt.

Aside from his invaluable roles in Chapala Realty and El Ojo del Lago, Richard racked up numerous other lifetime achievements. He was instrumental in introducing bilingual education to lakeside back in 1975 as one of the founding families and partner of my late husband Wayne Palfrey in the now defunct Oak Hill School.

Some years later he invested in the launch of The Art House of Chapala, an enterprise dedicated to producing and marketing giclée prints of photographs and fine art reproductions.

And in yet another brilliant entrepreneurial stroke, Richard partnered with David, Wendy and husband, chef Ricardo Laredo, to open Ajijic Tango, now ranking as one of lakeside’s most popular and successful restaurants. His children say he was Tango’s guiding light in providing top customer service and fine-tuning its fabulous menu.

Semi-retired in recent years, Richard chose to take up a relaxed beachcomber life at the rustic beach front palapa he built on the Pacific coast between Boca de Iguanas and La Manzanilla. The beautiful bay had been the family’s favorite get-away spot since the 1980’s when Richard planted a trailer at Boca de Iguanas. Undeterred after the trailer was swept inland and destroyed by a tidal wave that hit there in 1995, he began the planning and construction of the seaside paradise he happily occupied until his health began failing over the past year. It is fitting that it’s the spot his descendents have chosen to lay his ashes to rest. 

Richard was preceded in death by both of his parents. He is survived by his younger sisters Megan Tingen of Chapala, Margot Surgent of North Carolina, Mary Ann Tingen of Texas, Louise Minges of Florida, as well his wife Cuca, the couple’s three beloved offspring, respective spouses and eight grandchildren.

Family and friends will eventually celebrate his life at a memorial service to be scheduled once the Covid-19 health crisis subsides. As they bid him a fond Adios, all will forever keep his charming personality, irrepressible sense of humor and enchanting laughter close to heart. 

Descansa en Paz, querido Ricardo.


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