Richard Urrizaga grew up in White Pine County, starting in kindergarten and graduating in 1968 from East Ely Grade School. He graduated in 1972 from White Pine High. He played year round sports, even after high school, which included fast-pitch softball, flag football and basketball for the Nevada Northern Railways team.
He married Holly Davis and they had three children, Qwyntun, Angélique and Alicia.
Growing up, Urrizaga worked for his father, John Urrizaga, at John’s 66, which at one time was located at 12th and Aultman. He also spent his weekends in Spring Valley, with the sheep, helping his uncle, Raymond Urrizaga.
“I used to listen to the old herders and their stories of conquering a new frontier and yarns of the old country,” he said. “It was out there I learned much about the livestock industry. That, coupled with my parent’s deep involvement and dedication to the Ely Basque Club, laid the groundwork for ‘The Outlaw and the Pocket Watch.’”
At the age of 21, he broke in as a craps dealer at the Hotel Nevada and in 1976, just in time for the Bicentennial, he helped reopen the Bank Club. This launched a career in the gaming business, working casinos all over northern Nevada.
He learned to deal, not only craps, but 21, and roulette, as well and worked at the Commercial Hotel and Red Lion in Elko, Cactus Pete’s in Jackpot, The Stateline, Silversmith and Nevada Crossing in Wendover.
When asked why he never headed south to Vegas, he said, “I enjoy watching the seasons change. I was attracted to the business, sucked in by the roar and neon, not to mention being paid quite well for playing a game for a living. However, the lure of the night and lifestyle that accompanied it, eventually began to take its toll. Many, many wrong decisions were made by me and it seemed I was constantly bumping heads with law enforcement.”
Richard attended the College of Southern Idaho, where he realized he may have some skills as a writer.
“One of my English professors, Ken Bingham, told me that my writings teetered on literature. I did not know if I could write a book but felt I may be able to complete a chapter, so I began. I took the story of my grandparent’s pilgrimage from Spain, to the United States, blended it with the pride that comes from being Basque and growing up in Nevada, mixed it all with a colorful adventure, and I ended up with ‘The Outlaw and the Pocket Watch.’
“To season it, I threw in the unforgettable first love and the conflicts that have plagued the human race since man first crawled out of a cave. I did move some of the familiar sites to accommodate the needs of the story, a person that has grown-up in White Pine, or Elko County will realize this. And though the characters and story are all a display of a very vivid imagination, I did try to demonstrate the diversity of life that thrives in the Great Basin, human and beyond.”
“The Outlaw and the Pocket Watch” is actually the 2nd book Urrizaga has written, but the first published. He plans on releasing “The Protocols of Zomaga”, the 4th book, next. Then “Check with Your Travel Agent, First.”
“I feel the first book needs a complete overhaul, so please be patient,” he said.
Richard resides now in southern Idaho, which he says is dangerously close to northern Nevada.
“But, I will always be a Nevadan at heart,” he added.
Richard lives in Hagerman, with his wife Sandy and focuses most of his energy on her, so he says, and “Oh Yah, my art and writings.”
“The Outlaw and the Pocket Watch” is available on Amazon Books, Barnes& Noble, eBooks and iBook, plus.