Richard Henry Hamel was born in Davis and spent his entire life engaged in livestock production and farming in the Sacramento Valley. Rich and his brothers represented the second generation of the Hamel family born in America. Their grandfather had emigrated from Germany in the 1850's to Placerville in search of gold. In 1867 he established ranching and livestock enterprises near Davis that still exist.
In 1948 Rich, Fred, and Lester Hamel bought the Forney Ranch in Sacramento County. Rich bought out his brothers in 1952 and founded the Oak Meadow Hereford Ranch that became well known throughout the West. Rich, his wife, Marie, their son, Richard, and his wife, Sue, operated the ranch until it was sold in 1973 when Rich reluctantly retired.
Always active in livestock, farming, and community organizations and activities, Rich served as president and director of the California Hereford Association, was an original director of the California Beef Cattle Improvement Association, served for many years as director of the Sloughhouse Soil Conservation Service, and was an active member of the California Cattlemen's Association.
Rich received the Ford Almanac "Farm Efficiency Award" for cow-calf production in 1966.