Please join us to visit with family and friends and celebrate Dick’s life beginning at 11:00 am, Friday, December 27, at Springdale Presbyterian Church, 425 West Kemper Road, 45246. A funeral service will take place at the church starting at 12:30 pm, followed by interment in Oak Hills Cemetery, Springdale, Ohio.
Richard Henry Lee
Richard (Dick) Henry Lee of Cincinnati (Springdale) Ohio was born July 30, 1922 in Deposit, a small town on the west branch of the Delaware River in New York.
At the age of 11, Dick’s family, which included his father Charles Russell Lee, mother Hazel (nee Beagle) Lee, brother Bus and sister Joyce, moved to a small farm where they had room for chickens, a garden and a milk cow. The family later moved to a larger farm about 25 miles north of Deposit where they raised dairy cows and also kept chickens, pigs and had an apple orchard.
Dick found this to be a seven-day-a-week job that started at 4:30 am and to his regret, it eliminated any opportunity for him to participate in high school activities. To the disappointment of his parents, Dick left the family farm shortly after graduating from high school in 1940. He began working at the Bendix Aviation Company in Sidney, NY.
While living in Sidney, Dick took flying lessons and ground school courses and obtained his solo pilot’s license. He also became engaged to Freida Margaret Brush of Gulf Summit, NY.
Dick entered military service in December, 1942 and married Freida while stationed at Charleston Army Air Force Base in South Carolina. He was eventually sent overseas and served in the 15th Air Force, based in Italy. As a Staff Sergeant, he was the plane’s armorer and his fighting position was the lower ball turret gunner on B-17s and B-24 four-engine bombers. He flew on 37 combat missions into Austria and Germany and was awarded five Bronze Stars, an Air Medal with two Bronze Clusters, and other service ribbons and commendations.
He often spoke about his time in the service and kept detailed scrapbooks. His grandchildren loved to hear him tell the story of when his crew were the guests of the Tuskegee Airmen at their base in Italy. The famous airmen were often assigned to escort bomber groups such as Dick’s in and out of enemy territory, and on one occasion when Dick’s plane was damaged and unable to make the return trip to their own base, he said the Tuskegee Airmen were gracious hosts to his stranded bomber squadron.
Dick was honorably discharged from service in October, 1945 and returned to New York and his wife, Freida. Their first child, Richard Lee, Jr., was born in 1946.
After his military service, Dick held a variety of jobs, including butcher and assistant hotel manager. He opened a home furniture store with his uncle in Deposit. This turned out to be a short-lived venture, but it gave him the experience he needed to be hired as a salesman for a larger furniture outfit in Binghamton, NY, the Georgia Hanks Company. He had found his calling.
Dick had a successful career as an office furniture salesman, holding accounts at companies including Procter & Gamble, General Electric and General Motors. Throughout his career, Dick and his family moved from New York to Cincinnati, then to Chicago and Detroit, and finally back to Cincinnati permanently in 1969.
He retired at age 60 and then became an independent realtor, selling real estate and managing his own rental properties. He fully retired at age 66.
During his retirement years, Dick and Freida enjoyed traveling from coast to coast to visit family and see the country. They often stayed at the Stardust Casino in Las Vegas, where Freida loved to play the slot machines.
Having never attended college, Dick had a passion for learning and took nearly every course offered through the University of Cincinnati’s Lifelong Learning Institute. One of his favorite courses was Wine Appreciation. He took it more than once and was an A-student.
In 2000, Freida passed away and Dick was diagnosed with cancer of the bladder. To his doctor’s surprise, Dick beat the cancer and became a counselor for others with the same diagnosis. He also served as a volunteer for Hospice of Greater Cincinnati where he was a companion for hospice patients. He was dedicated to this work and went out of his way to bring comfort and joy to his patients. For example, when Dick learned that one of his patients - who had no family nearby - enjoyed playing cribbage, he went out and bought the game and learned how to play. He also built a crystal radio for another patient and tested it in his front yard, to the surprise of his neighbors.
Besides his family, Dick’s second great love was fishing. He especially enjoyed fishing in local farm ponds with his daughter, Patricia. He was a firm believer in being a good steward of the Lord’s resources and loved to share his catch with others. His fish fries were a family favorite.
According to Dick, there were three great tragedies in his life: the death of his baby granddaughter, Elizabeth (1980); the death of his second son, Barry (which occurred on Dick’s 66th birthday, 1988); and the death of his wife, Freida (nee Brush, 2000).
But Dick treasured life and greeted each day with a blessing and a smile. His theme song was “What a Wonderful World,” sung by Louis Armstrong. He continued to travel and fish and developed a very special friendship with Judith Holden, a fellow widow from church. Dick and Judy had regular date nights and enjoyed going to concerts, plays and Bengals games together. It was a joy to his family to see him so happy in the relationship he had with Judy.
On the occasion of his 90th birthday, Dick wrote these words:
What have I learned in these 90 years? One most important thing stands out above all else: I’ve learned that material possessions - houses, cars, “things,” jobs and positions, wealth or lack of it, etc., are not very important after all. The love of our Heavenly Father, and the love between us - our spouses and our families and children and friends - are the most important things in life. And don’t any of you ever forget it!
Dick was devoted to his church and was a long-term member, usher, elder and deacon of Springdale Presbyterian Church. He loved all of the wonders and beauty of nature and God’s world, including wine, martinis, a nice steak and sharing the company of his family around the dinner table. He loved life, his Lord and his family.
Dick passed into the Lord’s hands just before 7:00 AM in Springdale, Ohio on December 14, 2019. He was 97 years young. Dick was active and independent almost to the end of his great life.
Dick is survived by son Richard (Karol) Lee, Jr. of Irvine CA, daughter Patricia Reichle of Morrow, OH, and son Charles (Wendy) Lee of Mt. Juliet, TN. He leaves eight living grandchildren: Deborah (Matt) Rupard and Cynthia (Chris) Carbajal; Paula (Kirk) Smith and Clifford (Molly) Reichle, Cherise Lee and Shannon Lee; Spenser Lee and Jack Lee. He also leaves six great grandchildren: Ryan, Landon, Hazel, Fischer, Nolan and Carolyn. He left this world knowing he was about to be blessed with a seventh great-grandchild, Madeleine. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews.
To Dick and Karol, Pat, and Chuck and Wendy, Dick wrote:
Please don’t cry, I can see
That you are sad, but please don’t be.
I had to go
I haven’t left you, not really
And in time, you’ll be with me
So for now, please be strong
You’ll be fine, you’ll get along
Remember me with joy, not pain
Until we’re together once again.