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John Langeland Risk, 70, of Durham, N.C., Army veteran, died Saturday, April 28, 2018, at Duke University Hospital, of complications following heart surgery. He was born March 16, 1948, in Muskegon, Mich., to Richard and Frances (Langeland) Risk, and moved to Tulsa, Okla., with his parents later that year. He spent his childhood in Tulsa, graduating from Will Rogers High School in 1966.

He received a B.S. in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University and an M.B.A. from the University of Tulsa, specializing in portfolio analysis. He served in the U.S. Army as a claims adjuster, in Missouri and Germany, during the Vietnam era, being awarded the Army Commendation Medal. Following military service, he was a benefits counselor for the Veterans Administration in Tulsa.

While pursuing additional studies at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, he was involved in research concerning mergers and acquisitions, and co-author of “Toehold Acquisitions of U.S. Corporations,” presented at the 1983 annual meeting of the Financial Management Association. He taught Investments and Business Finance at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. John was also an entrepreneur, in computer sales, as a stock broker and in other marketing ventures.

He married Gayle Dula Brett, a registered nurse, in 1999 and they lived for many years in their dream log cabin in the woods, in Pittsboro. They were in the process of moving to Durham at the time of John’s death. They had spent 22 years together.

John was an avid chess player, a member of the Asheboro Chess Club, participating in regional tournaments and playing matches over the Internet. He was rated by the U.S. Chess Federation.

He and Gayle were longtime active parishioners of Chapel of the Cross, Chapel Hill, both serving as ushers. As a volunteer, John supervised the parking lot on Sundays and, for many years, ran the parish’s annual “ABC Sale” fundraiser. He was also active in Boy Scouts, as committee chairman and assistant scoutmaster of the parish’s Troop 9, hosting many troop campouts on their acreage in Pittsboro. 

He is survived by his wife, Gayle, of the home; daughter Julia Risk and husband Tony Hood, of Durham; son Brian Risk and daughter in law Meredith Gringle-Risk, of Durham; brother Richard (“Dick”) Risk and wife Carroll, of South Pasadena, Fla.; sister Catherine (“Cathy”) Siegel, of Hanford, Calif.; two grandsons, Otto Hood and Maxwell Risk, and three granddaughters, Gwendolyn Hood, Daphne Risk and Lucille Risk, all of Durham; stepsons Tony Brett and wife Mary, and Bryan Brett, of Durham; nieces, Amy Lysinger and husband David, of Tulsa, and Lori Siegel, of Seattle; nephews, Robert Risk, of Tulsa, and William Siegel and wife Natalie, of Hanford; extended family, Andrew and Amanda McGrane and their children, Ryan, Samantha and Myles (“Smyley”), of Pittsboro; and three dogs and a cat, of the home.

A memorial celebration will be held at 2 p.m., Wednesday, May 16, at Chapel of the Cross. His ashes will be scattered in the church’s garden. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Chapel of the Cross or Thompson Child & Family Focus, Matthews, N.C.  www.americancremationservices.net.


John Risk
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  • Monday, April 30, 2018
    Our staff will continue to keep your family in our prayers. We thank you for allowing us to serve your family.
    ~ American Cremation Services, Inc.
  • Monday, May 07, 2018
    My mother who is 89 saw Johns obituary in Tulsa news paper. She told me about being neighbors to John’s family around 1960 when they rented a house on Yale street. Our condolences to your family.
    ~ David Robb   Tulsa, OK
  • Sunday, May 20, 2018
    Prayers for the family as we know that John will be dearly missed. Sorry for your loss.
    ~ Isaac Risk and Tara Middleton   Tulsa, OK