Dick Frederick was my dad’s cousin, who is therefore my first cousin once removed. Cousin Dick was one of my favorite relatives.
Dick had a distinguished military career. I have not been able to find documentation of his service, but as a Purdue University grad, I believe he was at least a Major or perhaps a Lieutenant Coronel. After the service, Dick initially worked at Elkhart Stationary Company, a family business founded by his father Clayton Frederick and uncle Vard. Later Dick joined the United States Postal Service where he worked until his retirement.
Dick was a man of many hobbies and interests; including aviation, history, handicrafts, model building, genealogy, painting, fly fishing, and geology to name just a few. Attached is a newspaper article written about Dick’s model airplane collection he made from scrap pieces of wood, cellophane, bamboo, pins and beads.
Dick took flying lessons and reportedly had fifteen hours of solo flying although I was not able to determine if he actually had a pilot’s license.
During the 1950s Dick and his wife Mary used to spend weeks with my mom and dad at their summer place on Candlewood Lake in Connecticut. They weren’t just guests however, because they took over all the food preparation, housekeeping, and household maintenance. Dick was an excellent cook, and there wasn’t any home project Dick couldn’t handle.
Dick, born in 1910 lived an active life into his 90s. Sometime in the 1980’s I was researching family history and planned to visit the Elkhart Indiana library which had one of the countries better known genealogy collections. I called Dick who lived in Elkhart to ask if he could pick me up at the Elkhart airport and provide transportation to and from the library. He was happy to do it. When landing that day, I spotted 75-year-old Dick in his aviator sunglasses casually leaning against his red sports car on the ramp.
After my library visit, Dick took me to lunch at his Elks Club. What an experience. Every patron and waitress in the club knew Dick and came over to our table to trade wisecracks and share greetings. I thought, what a wonderful thing it is to bring that many smiles to so many with your presence.
When we returned to my plane at the airport, I said, “Dick, why don’t you climb in and we’ll make a couple circuits around the field.” He was delighted. After a few minutes of flying, I said, “Okay, Dick. You’re going to make the landing and I’ll back you up on the controls. Just keep a light grip on the yoke.” I did all the radio communications, power settings, and nudged us onto final approach. A few feet off the ground, I suggested when to flare while helping from the right seat. It was a churp, churp, greaser of a landing and Dick wore a smile that would probably take two weeks to erase.
I loved that guy.