Friday, March 19, 2004

Richard H. Fletcher, 88, avid swimmer

Great-granddad stayed active

By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COLLEGE HILL - Richard Hooker "Dik" Fletcher, former vice president of R.B. Witte & Son Construction Co. in Westwood, died March 5 at Llanfair Retirement Community in College Hill. He was 88.

"He was one of those people who believed everybody is equal," said his daughter, Maryl Fletcher De Jong of Oakley. "He believed everybody had a basic human worth that needed to be respected. I saw that in his construction work. He would work side-by-side with his workers. He didn't mind getting his hands or body dirty."

A native of Worcester, Mass., Mr. Fletcher was a relative of Union Gen. Joseph Hooker, who is buried at Spring Grove Cemetery.

He moved with his family to Oakley when he was a boy. He graduated from Withrow High School in 1934 and the University of Cincinnati, where he received a degree in civil engineering, in 1939.

Mr. Fletcher swam competitively in high school and college and was voted most valuable swimmer at UC.

During World War II, he served as an engineering instructor for the Navy.

When he reached his 50s, Mr. Fletcher resumed swimming in masters competitions, taking many national titles. He ranked in the top 10 nationally in the 800-yard freestyle - his specialty - in 1998, according to his daughter.

Among his many hobbies were gardening - he provided fresh, organic vegetables for his family - beekeeping, scuba diving, canoeing, backpacking, primitive camping and flying. He received his pilot's license at 53 and flew a 4-seater Cessna until he was 71.

Three years after he retired in 1983, he and his wife, Mary Fletcher, moved to Melbourne Beach, Fla. They returned to Cincinnati in 2001.

In addition to his wife and daughter, survivors include two other daughters, Lucy Stucky of Battle Creek, Mich., and Marty Mihaly of Cleveland; a son, Douglas Fletcher of Colerain Township; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

The funeral was private. Mr. Fletcher's remains were donated to the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

Memorials: Anatomy Research Fund, Department of Anatomy, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, 231 Bethesda Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45267; Llanfair Retirement Community, 1701 Llanfair Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45224; or Vitas Hospice Care, 11500 Northlake Drive, Suite 400, Cincinnati, OH 45249.

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