Tonnesen, Richard N.

June 9, 1940 - February 4, 2014

Richard Niles Tonnesen of Richardson, Texas was born in Dubuque, Iowa, June 9, 1940 and passed away peacefully February 4, 2014 at the age of 73.  A memorial service will be held at the First United Methodist Church of Coppell on Friday, Feb 7, 2014 at 10:00 AM with a reception immediately following.

Richard was preceded in death by his father, William Andrew Tonnesen and his mother, Rose Marie (Riedi) Tonnesen. He is survived by his loving wife of 53 years, Janet Ann (Fischer) Tonnesen, two children, son Steven (Cindee) Tonnesen and daughter Diane (Greg) Walter and two granddaughters, Lauren and Katie Walter.

Richard joined the Naval Reserve Training Center as he began his senior year in high school in 1957.  Richard graduated from the University of Dubuque in 1962 with a Bachelor Degree in Physics. He attended US Naval Officer Candidate School and received his commission as a United States Naval Officer in August, 1962.  He served 3 years active duty in the Navy, serving on the island of Adak, Alaska and at a Naval Facility Base in Ferndale, California. After resigning his commission in 1965 he came to Dallas, Texas and worked for several years at Texas Instruments. While in the Navy he became very interested in computers and learned he had a special knack for programming computers. He subsequently worked for Raldon Home Developer, writing programs for their accounting and construction scheduling and development. Later he worked for Harris Communications, Harris Adacom, and retired from Open Connect in 2001.

Richard was a gentle, quiet, softly spoken man with a keen sense of humor and an unquenchable interest in science and history.  Richard’s interest in electronics and mechanics and his desire to own his own computer in the early 70’s led him to design and build a piano roll reader and piano roll perforator and write the programs to run the equipment. What started out as a hobby became a part-time business (mostly a labor of love) of punching paper piano rolls for collectors of various types of player and reproducing pianos.

Richard was diagnosed in 1998 with Parkinson’s Disease and the progression of the disease made it difficult to maintain the equipment and 30 years after punching its first piano rolls, the Custom Music Rolls perforator ceased production in Richardson.  The machinery now resides in San Antonio and is still producing paper piano rolls.

The family would like to thank the staff at Presbyterian Village North for the loving care they gave him during the past 15 months.  He was loved.  He will be missed.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to


Arrangements are under the direction of:

ARIA Cremation Service & Funeral Home
19310 Preston Road, Dallas, Texas 75252
214) 306-6700

9 replies on “Tonnesen, Richard N.”

Charlotte Webberman says:

Janet and family,

I hope the memories you cherish about Richard serve you as an abiding source of inspiration.

May God comfort you as only He can with His consolation and peace.

Celeste says:

Janet, while I am saddened to hear the news of Richard’s death, I am happy to know that he and my father are playing piano rolls in heaven together! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Love, Celeste

Jennifer Cody says:

It was a pleasure to work with Richard at PVP, and I am so sorry to hear of his passing. We’re all thinking of you in this difficult time.

Pamela Cogburn says:

What a wonderfully interesting man! So glad he was part of the PVP family. My thoughts & prayers are with you & your family at this sad, difficult time. Blessings to you all.

Sidney Blum says:

To Janet & Family:

It is with sadness that I just read today, Feb. 16th. of Richard’s passing. Richard and I went back to grade school at Fulton and Janet to Senior. I knew Richard as a quiet and most
intelligent person – an exceptional person. You all have my most sincere condolences – I know he will be missed by all! As a fellow U.S. Navy veteran I say ” Anchors Away ” and God’s Speed Richard!

Sidney Blum

Brenda Holder says:

It was a great joy to know Richard.
He had a very kind and loving heart. He is greatly missed!!

Ken Snodgrass says:

It was with deep regret that I read about the passing of Richard. Janet, you and Richard were two of the most wonderful people, I had the pleasure of knowing. When we would get together, it seemed as though time had not passed. I felt so special when you two visited me, when I spent a few days in Dallas. May God bless you and your family

Jim & Judy Arlen says:

Hi Janet, Just a note to let you know how sorry we are to hear about Rich. When you would come back to Dubuque it was always great to see you and Rich. We always had fun at Family get togethers. Judy and I will keep you and your family in our prayers.

Pat Frederick Alvestad says:

My deepest sympathy to you Janet. My memories of Richard go from kindergarten at Fulton through graduation from U.of Dubuque in 1962. We were good friends and classmates all those years, and I count you as a good friend also. God bless you and your family.

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