In writing Dick’s obituary, I have been in touch with many people; some of his relationships go back almost 60 years. Many of the people I have had the pleasure to speak with have known him for lifetimes longer than I have, and I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge them in their grief, and express my deepest condolences to them for their great loss.
I like to think of Dick as a benevolent, supportive advocate and mentor of all things Main Street WIRE and Roosevelt Island. The WIRE was his baby, and no matter how much he wanted to at times, he wasn’t going to retire until he knew it was in good hands. When he first started mentoring me for the role, he wrote to me that, “It has always seemed that finding a direct replacement for myself could be problematic, because the paper and I are such a fit.”
The WIRE is the most public example of Dick’s tremendous impact and reach, and as steward of that legacy, the responsibility weighs heavily. Dick saw something in me that, at the time, I didn’t know was there. I think that was the magic of Dick – his ability to advocate powerfully but patiently, never pushing, never making it about him. In his quiet but compelling way, he enabled me to grow into the role.
To me, he was larger than life; he seemed invincible. My kids called him “the newspaper man,” not because they didn’t know his name, but because that’s what he was. I have been asking Dick since the beginning if I could profile him for the paper. He always said, “Not until I’m dead.”
Dick was brilliant and intuitive. He could also be cantankerous and impossibly inscrutable, but he remains one of the finest, kindest people who have ever graced the Island. He was a fighter who rooted for all of us. He was a loyal friend, yet many of his small kindnesses never made their way to the front page. He brought the community together in countless ways that he never made public.
We discussed life in general throughout our time together. We discussed issues that I was having, and all the little things that make up a life. Having the ear of an experienced person to listen and respond is something that is irreplaceable, and he took the time to give thoughtful direction and advice.
And while I will miss him as a mentor and friend, I look forward to always hearing his voice in my head. I’m comforted by the knowledge that his accomplishments are enduring and will continue to exemplify the very best of Roosevelt Island.
But he was more than that. To the people he touched, and there are many of us, he changed our lives, and in some cases, he made our lives.
He will be sorely missed.