I will always think of Rich Villella as a very good friend and also a good wargamer. I met him, first, at Campaign Headquarters, in the mid 80s when I was a shop clerk for Joe Legat. Rich and I spoke a couple of times about different wargaming topics, which led to conversations about girls, music and a number of other topics. Eventually, he got around to inviting me to wargame with the Williamsburg crowd that gamed (in those days) at a training building of Colonial Williamsburg.
I started attending those gaming sessions (weekend nights) a couple of times here and there (work and school permitting) and Rich was always a gentleman (as were the rest of the club). Rich always inspired me, in those days, not only with his expansive knowledge of military history, but also his welcoming friendliness; his eagerness to share a game with someone new; and his open minded approach not only to game ideas, but to any sort of conversation topic. After that, for a couple of years (while I was still working at the hobby store and an undergraduate) I would do a number of contract painting projects for Rich. It was always a good relationship, for not only would I get to paint new topics, but I would also benefit from Rich's knowledge of history. After college, I saw Rich on occasion on weekend game sessions, when I lived in Williamsburg, and continued to see him from time to time.
A few years back I heard that Rich had retired, and we saw each other again (after some time of sporadic contact). It was as if no real time had passed in between - we took up our friendly relationship and conversations on historical topics (mostly Ancient warfare, Napoleonic history, and more esoteric things, like Garibaldi and the Reunification of Italy). Just earlier this year, Rich hosted a Napoleonic game at the Hangar, which I played in eagerly (using Rudy Scott Nelson's rules - which Rich introduced me to years earlier, and which I still enjoy playing). I was glad for the experience. Just before the first Williamsburg Muster (our local convention - of which Rich was totally supportive, and served on our committee), he ran a French Foreign Legion game, which was a lot of fun as well.
Then, just a few days ago, I received the dreadfully sad news that Rich had passed away. The wash of sadness still hasn't left me. The world will be a much hollower place without my friend Rich in it.