Dick Schleicher : July 7, 1934 – January 13, 2016

SAN DIEGO – Captain Richard J. Schleicher, USN (ret.) was born in Baltimore, MD on July 7, 1934 to Richard L. Schleicher and Marie Rose Fraatz. He died on Wednesday, January 13, 2016.

Dick grew up in Inglewood, CA, and earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Villanova University. His 30 year career in the U S Navy included command of the nuclear powered submarine USS Tecumseh SSBN 628 and command of the Service Schools at the Naval Training Center. He served as Chief Staff Officer as well as Center Commander until his retirement in 1987. He served as president of the Naval Submarine League Pacific Southwest Chapter.

Captain Schleicher taught chemistry and physics for five years at the Navy’s Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection and Training followed by four years as Director of Education at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. He played a major role in California Operation Lifesaver, promoting safety around railroad tracks, and was president of the Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society. He was a member of the NTC Foundation during the transition to Liberty Station. He served St. Charles Borromeo parish as school board president and chairman of the finance council, and was Grand Knight of Point Loma Council 3947, spending many Sunday mornings serving pancakes.

He organized college fair representation among the San Diego Alumni for the past 17 years, resulting in an average of 13 students attending Villanova from San Diego County each year.

He leaves his wife, Margaret, of 51 years, and son Ray, daughter­ in-law Lori, and four grandchildren, Liam, Damien, Gemma and Gavin.

A funeral Mass will be held at St. Charles Borromeo Church on Monday, January 25 at 11:00 a.m. preceded by a Viewing at 9:30 and a
Rosary at 10:20. Military honors will be rendered on the church patio following the Mass. Burial will be at the Miramar National Cemetery at 10:30 on Tuesday the 26th.

Anyone wishing to send Margaret a card or note, here is the house address:

3232 Elliott Street
San Diego, CA 92106

After receiving the news of Dick’s passing, the disbelief, finding and searching for the words to express to a friend for over the past 32 years was not difficult. Putting them down and not getting emotional was the hard part. My story goes back to the year 1984 at a SFMO Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mike Martin and I attended the convention hosted by Bryan Moesley and other fellow Santa Fe modelers who would forge out a grand organization through the years. I remember Dick coming over to Mike and I and introducing himself and we were impressed by his knowledge and gentleness in expression. At this time the west coast group called the SFMA, the Association of Santa Fe Modelers held their own get-to-getters and with that looking to expand the interests, formed The Santa Fe Railway Historical Society. Mike Martin along with John Berry, Loren Martens, Pete Meyn, Larry Occhiello, Charlie Slater, Don Steen and myself went to work on the Publication called “The Santa Fe Route”.

At this time, Dick was very interested in being part of the team and came on board when Directors changed rolls or dropped out. Dick became Secretary of the Society and at the same time his involvement with the SFMO which became the Santa Fe Modelers Organization was elected to Secretary as well. This kept Dick pretty busy working both groups and performed his duties with upmost care in keeping the business ends separated. However, at times we found ourselves at odds at each other in what was being printed in the two publications.

It was during this time, Dick was the liaison in working on a solution to bring the two groups together as one and produce a magazine that would cover both the Historical and Modeling aspects of the Santa Fe railroad. This process did not take place in a smooth matter but over time and continued negotiations finely came to an agreement. The wedding of the two groups came to pass at Dick’s home in San Deigo and through all the reasons for or against we all shook hands and out of the hard work came the Santa Fe Railway Historical & Modeling Society. With Dick’s hard work and leadership it became one of the best Societies publishing a great magazine where historical and modeling articles could be published in one.

As the years rolled by, Dick moved up in Board positions and I followed him where he became President and I had the privilege to serve under him as Vice President. Though I never served under him in the military service it was though I was an officer under his command. He served with direction and distinction and the Society continued to grow. His direction and dedication caused the ship mates to achieve goals and just have a good feeling about what we were doing to promote the Santa Fe Railroad not to just its members but to the public. His involvement in other railroad groups as an educator helped the Society to be recognized across the spectrum.

When the Board held meetings which was twice a year, one at the annual Convention and one in the winter time it was always a treat to be hosted by Dick in San Diego. Our meetings would last for three days and at the end of each day Dick would have something planned for us to see around the area. He was a great tour guide and had wonderful stories to tell of his adventures around the country. As always questions would arise about his time as a Submarine Captain to which he would reply, “ Yes, we were under water for great lengths of time but I can’t remember where”.

Dick attended all the Society conventions over the years and was chairman on the San Diego one along with Larry Occhiello riding shot gun. As a team it is hard work pulling off one of our conventions but Dick and Larry seemed to handle it quite well.
As the years went on, Dick stepped down as President and I moved into his positon. Even though he was not a Board member, Dick kept in touch and offered guidance and suggestions to the new Board members. You can’t ever say that Dick was not active as the years pass along, he had so many irons in the fire I just don’t see how he did it. I feel the military training was a guiding factor.

My memories of Dick will last a long time to come and I feel so enriched to have knowing him as a friend and fellow modeler. His knowledge of the Santa Fe is on the same level of others who have passed before him. I am sure he that he was not finished being a contributor an educator and historian. His service to his country and to the Society has made us all richer.

God Bless you Dick, it was my pleasure to have known you these past 32 years. You are truly the words, An Officer and a Gentleman………………………..

Steve Dunham

Harry James Briscoe : September 15, 1917 – January 12, 2016

Harry James Briscoe
Harry James Briscoe

Harry James Briscoe, 98, of Topeka, Kansas passed away Tuesday morning January 12, 2016 at Stormont-Vail Hospital.

Mr. Briscoe was born in New London, MO on September 15, 1917, the youngest of three sons of Harry C. and Mollie B. Johnson Briscoe. He graduated High School in New London in 1935 and attended Chillicothe Business College in NE Missouri where he learned basic business principles, penmanship and shorthand. In 1937 he joined the Santa Fe Railway in Slaton, TX as a stenographer and began what would be his life’s work, culminating in Topeka, 45 years later. The career was interrupted by military service from January 1942 through June 1945. Among other assignments, he was Chief Yeoman on the USS Flaherty in the North Atlantic during World War II.

Early in his Santa Fe career, Harry met Mary Catherine Brown from Olpe, KS. On Sunday, December 11, 1941 Harry and Mary were at Union Station in Kansas City when the bombing of Pearl Harbor was announced. On hearing that news, Harry quickly made two important decisions. He decided to immediately join the Navy, and he asked Mary to marry him. They were wed on a week-end leave on June 6, 1942 in St. Louis, MO. Following a Cardinals baseball game that afternoon, Harry returned to his base and Mary to her job in Topeka. So began a 65-year adventure that would last until Mary’s passing in May of 2007. Harry and Mary had four children; Mary Kay, who died in early childhood, Harry J. (spouse, Jane Ann Dumm) of Houston, TX, Molly Anne (spouse Don Morris) in Riverside, Ca., and David L. (spouse Cynthia Marie Edstrom) in Newton, KS. Harry had two grandchildren, Jennifer Kay Briscoe Rosser and Matthew James, both married and in Houston, TX, and two great-grandchildren, Catherine Jane Rosser and John Briscoe Rosser.

Harry Briscoe’s Santa Fe career was an exceptional journey of contribution and achievement with moves to eleven different locations in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois and California. In 1973 he was transferred to Topeka as General Manager of the Eastern Lines. He retired from the Santa Fe in 1982 and in 2005 wrote a book, “Watching the Trains Go By”, to chronicle his exceptional career, and the railroad business of the twentieth century.

Throughout his life, Mr. Briscoe was very active and diversely involved in community activities. He was a life member of Rotary International and received the Paul Harris Fellowship award. During his time in Topeka, Briscoe was a board member or officer with The Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce, the Governor’s Task Force on Effective Management, the Governor’s Task Force on Water Management, the Memorial Hospital, the Kansas Association of Commerce and Industry, the Saint Mary’s College President’s Council, The First National Bank of Topeka, the Employee’s Benefit Association, and the Independent College Fund. He was a Trustee with the Kansas State Historical Society during the building of their permanent museum and complex, and he was instrumental in securing the locomotive that is the centerpiece of that facility. He was an active supporter of the Overland Station renovation and development, and much of his personal collection of Santa Fe memorabilia is on display in the museum there. In 1983 he was recognized as a ‘leading citizen’ in a Proclamation from the Mayor of Topeka. He was a member of the West Side Christian Church.

Harry was an engaging and jovial participant at the great many events common to a large extended family. He enjoyed fishing, quail hunting and bird-dog training, and spent his free time teaching those pastimes to his two sons and his grandson, and sharing them with many relatives and friends.

Harry Briscoe was preceded in death by his wife, Mary C., his daughter, Mary K., and his two brothers, Robert C. and Jesse B. Briscoe. He is survived by his immediate family and an extensive extended family, primarily in Kansas and Missouri.

The family wishes to thank the entire staff at Brewster Place in Topeka for their kind and sincere attention during his recent years as a resident there, and also to Curtis Holderbach for his kind attention as a personal care-giver and companion.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Monday, January 18, 2016 at West Side Christian Church.  A reception and lunch will follow the service.  Private family graveside services will be held.

Memorial contributions may be given in Harry’s memory to the Capper Foundation, Midland Hospice or to the Salvation Army sent in care of Brennan-Mathena Funeral Home, 800 S.W. 6thAvenue, Topeka, Kansas 66603.

Online condolences and fond memories may be left at www.brennanmathenafh.com

David Briscoe
1805 Firebox
Newton, Kansas 67114

Lee Gustafson

Lee Gustafson
Lee Gustafson


While unloading his vehicle at the Southern California Santa Fe Mini-meet on February 6, 2016, Lee collapsed. He was rushed to the hospital where he died.

Lee was a long-time member of the Society and assisted with the Western Archives. He was a regular contributor to various book projects and was generous with his time, photos and archives.

Lee co-authored two books on the Coast Lines Depots published by Omni Publications in 1991 and 1996.

Lee Gustafson was born in Illinois and his family moved to Santa Monica when he was only fourteen months old. He liked to consider himself meeting the qualifications for being a Southern California “native”. He was raised in the areas of Mar Vista and Culver City, both of which were served by Pacific Electric. His initial interest in traction goes back as far as he can remember. As a six-year old, he and his mother rode PE’s 5050 Class “Hollywood” cars to Venice & Santa Monica and Los Angeles Transit Lines “W” car line to Los Angeles. After graduating from high school, he attended Santa Monica City College and began working for the Culver City post office as a substitute clerk and letter carrier.

Lee’s first experience with the Santa Fe was in late 1961 when he and one of his neighborhood buddies decided to ride their bicycles (with a Brownie box camera hung around the handle bars) from Culver City to Inglewood via Pacific Electric’s (ex Santa Fe) line to that city. It was there that they encountered the 1888-built depot with zebra-striped Alco switchers parked nearby.

Finding an old broken AT&SF marker lamp in the trash bin next to the tool house was like discovering a buried treasure that day. It was this experience and others like it, that sparked his interest in collecting rail-road artifacts and photographing depots and trains that continues to this day.

In 1965, Lee entered the U.S. Army, spending most of his time stationed in France. Upon separation, he returned to working for the post office where he eventually advanced to various management positions.

Lee soon found himself devoting more and more time capturing on film the slowly vanishing railroad depots and other facilities. His interests turned to the historical and architectural aspects of California’s rail-roads. He began traveling with a friend over much of the United States on back roads to various towns and out-of-the-way places to photograph depots and trains, amassing over 12,000 prints and digital images.

Over the years Lee has amassed a substantial collection of railroad research material and memorabilia, including an extensive collection of employee timetables and rail-road engineering department drawings. Having some experience in cartography and drafting, he has created published drawings and maps pertaining to railroad depots and history. His research material includes multiple file drawers and cabinets of railroad historical information, mostly pertaining to western states railroads, and particularly Southern California. In 1998, he began utilizing spreadsheet and database programs to record newly acquired information and data on various railroad localities and subjects.
Besides being involved with the Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society, Lee is a member of the Railroad Station Historical Society, Pacific Railroad Society, Orange Empire Railway Museum and the historical society of that “other railroad” that operated extensively in California.

Lee has co-authored two books with his good friend and publisher Phil Serpico on Santa Fe depots in the state of California and has assisted other authors by providing historical information and photographs of various railroad subjects.

After more than thirty-six years of service, Lee retired in 2000 from the United States Postal Service, as post-master of Malibu. He had two adult children and resided in west Simi Valley since 2003.