On April 21, 2018, we lost an exceptionally good man, good for so many more reasons than he was our excellent BFAHS 1961 Class President.
The impressions I have of Dick suggest that we spent much time together, but reflecting back, I realize how few times we actually did share, and all of these were group settings. So how could I feel so certain that my assessments are based on enough knowledge? In the same way that any of us ‘knows’ another—based on our personal perceptions during times together (including emails) and based on inferences we draw from times together, from reports from others, and from what a person has done in their life. Stated this way, it may not sound like much of a basis, but I feel strongly that I have it right: Dick was a really good guy who lived life fully and well, while projecting humility regarding himself and caring regarding others.
Dick was an unassuming guy who did not stand out in the obvious ways of star athletes or of performing artists or of geniuses or of highly extroverted people. Yet, he was very popular and often chosen to lead.
Very friendly, freely engaging with others, having a genuine smile, always readily forthcoming, Dick seemed truly interested in the person he was talking to. He listened to them, and only spoke of himself if prodded.
Dick also had a great sense of humor, but he was not one, seeking attention, to take the floor to entertain others with his wit.
He was deeply religious, but, barring a spiritual discussion, you wouldn’t know it from him. Whether religion or any important issue, it’s not that Dick did not hold strong views, but in any everyday discussion with friends, he was not one to push himself or his views on anyone.
Just by hanging around Dick in a group could enrich your life. He supported everyone and never introduced negativity of any sort. You came away just feeling better knowing that here was one of those people who somehow manage to be the glue of society.
In all settings, his manner made those around him feel comfortable. Not through obviously outstanding specific skills, not through blind ambition, but through his way with people, Dick conveyed the idea that he would get the job done while caring for the people doing it. Dick’s rise in the business world demonstrated that he did have the right set of skills.
Finally, a characteristic not often included in this kind of memorial: Dick was brave. I base this assessment primarily on his volunteering to fly US Navy helicopters on important defensive missions. Many of our citizens are unaware of how many of our military are killed just in training exercises. Conducting actual military operations is dangerous work in general; flying Navy helicopters entails considerable risk of harm. Yes, he was brave, but when I was quizzing Dick on what he did in the Navy, he did not say a word about the danger involved.
Without fanfare, Dick served his country, his community, our high school class, his friends, and his family for whom he was a beloved husband (to his wonderful wife, Ruth), father, and grandfather. His is a life lived that I so admire.
I am sad that my friend, Dick Partington, is gone. And I’m sad that the world has lost such a man.