Richard Dunham Beldon passed away on August 8, 2012.
Richard was an important person to all of us. And he was important to each of us in unique and personal ways; as husband, father, grandfather, brother, father-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle and friend.
We each miss Richard in the context of the individual relationship we had with him. And, we all miss him for the wonderful qualities he exhibited as he lived life so fully.
September 7, 1960 is the day Dick and I met. That's the day we reported to Colgate University as freshmen and moved into East Hall. I never imagined on that day the many rewards that were ahead for me on the path we would share over the next 52 years.
Some thought at the time that we looked alike with short, light colored hair. Taller and more athletic, Dick was a football player, a scratch golfer and a Colgate glee club member. I was the pudgy one.
Our families both have a long history with Colgate University. Dick's Dad Jack, his uncle Dunham and his brother Jack all graduated from Colgate. And brother Jack was a Colgate senior our freshman year. Eight of my cousins graduated from Colgate and my cousin Dave Allen was a Colgate junior that year. Dick and I both received invitations to join Jack Beldon's fraternity, Beta Theta Pi. However, we were both swayed, each by different influences, to join Theta Chi and thus became fraternity brothers.
I mentioned that Dick was a scratch golfer. When we met I didn't know what "scratch" meant since I had never met anyone who played golf that well. Over the years we played golf together many times. I won only once! And that was when Dick was recovering from the effects of chemotherapy and we played on my golf course. Oh, yes! Dick said he had a great day!
While we were Theta Chi pledges I learned all about Dick's honesty, integrity and patience. Pledges are given many assignments, all seemingly designed to make life miserable. Most of us would dodge any task or take any possible shortcut to avoid these tasks. But not Dick. If he was supposed to do something, he did it! While the rest of us moaned and groaned about pledging, Dick never complained! And what was most amazing to me was that Dick always got through the BS more easily than the rest of us! I later asked Dick if his experience at Naval Officer Candidate School was similar to fraternity hazing and he told me he approached it the same way and got the same positive result!
Dick and Patter were married in 1964 in Newport, Rhode Island while he was in Naval OCS. I was honored to be the Best Man at their wedding. Following Officer training, Dick was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy and he and Patter were stationed at several East Coast locations. I remember visiting Dick and Patter when they were stationed at the Philadelphia Naval Yard. Both Kim and Wendy were born by then and Dick was so proud of his beautiful little girls! I remember during that visit, that Dick requested and received permission to take me, a civilian, to see the battleship New Jersey which was in dry-dock being refitted for service in Vietnam.
The Navy life was not for Dick and after completing his active duty responsibilities, he left the Navy to join General Electric and sell timesharing services. I knew about GE Timesharing and the BASIC programming language because I had used them extensively at Dartmouth. A GE executive, also on Dartmouth's Board of Directors, had negotiated the trade of GE's latest computer system for software development help. Timesharing was a new concept at that time and I think Dick was very innovative in successfully applying and selling GE time sharing service to solve client's common business problems.
GE transferred the family over a short period of time from Gaithersburg, MD to Rochester, NY, back to Gaithersburg and then to Buffalo. At that point, Dick and Patter decided to stay put and raise their family in upstate New York. Dick moved into the technology recruiting business with Robert Half. As a recruiter, his caring, his loyalty and his integrity enabled him to serve both clients and candidates well, and all prospered.
I think we all have many happy memories of life in that beautiful home in Buffalo on Wellingwood Drive. Esther and I visited there in 1985. During our visit, we were introduced to Niagara Falls and Buffalo Wings. On the Maid of the Mist, the crew issued rain slickers to protect us from the spray of the Falls. Actually, we found that those slickers were already wet, and smelly too! Since one size fits all, we laughed so hard as Esther disappeared after putting on her yellow vinyl hoodie.
It was from the Wellingwood Drive home that we left for Kim and Robert's wedding in Cazenovia. On another visit we left from that home for Wendy and Brian's wedding in Buffalo. And I think it was in that home that Betsy introduced us to Peter. It was also there that we last saw "The Boys", two Bonita fish that Patter caught on Padre Island, TX while they joined Esther and me on our honeymoon. Yes, our friendship had deepened by then. Dick patiently searched all over Padre Island for packing materials and ice to get those beautiful fish back to Buffalo where they were to be mounted. We looked like the Beverly Hill Billies traveling with boxes of fish packed in dry ice tied onto the rental car. Well, they made it! After some years in the freezer, I heard that those "Boys" surprised the B-jeepers out of some unsuspecting New Yorker who found them floating in a roadside pond.
It was also in the Wellingwood Drive home where Dick and I sat in the sun room playing with Tyler; it was there that he worked on his Osbourne computer; and it was in this home that he asked me to drive him to the Joe the Barber to get his hair cut before beginning cancer treatment in Buffalo. Dick was brave! He fought for so long and endured so much. While he didn't share much of his challenges with me, I think we all know how difficult his battle with cancer was. Dick was loyal! I think his loyalty to all of us was a prime factor in his will to fight the disease.
With his recovery, Dick and Patter moved to Cleveland with PSI and then on to Walgreen's.
His pride in his daughters and his sons-in-law grew exponentially as the grandchildren grew. Jack, Gretchen, Coleman, Andrew, Peyton and Kirsten, Papa was so proud of all of you and each of your accomplishments. I know that you will treasure your Camp Nana Papa memories always.
It's impossible to describe a person in a single word. So I chose several that describe essence of Richard to me;
Honest and Honorable
With Highest Integrity
These qualities describe Richard for me. Each of you are free to add others.
Yes, Richard was important to all of us and we will miss him in many, many ways. But I am certain he is with us today and enjoying your company right now from a much better place.
Dick, we love you!
© William Hawkins 2024