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………………………..