Memorial – Richard E. Read (11/11/1931 – 6/25/2021)

Dick Read’s earthly journey of 89 years ended on June 25, 2021. Along that journey, he was a mentor, teacher, engineer, inventor, and technology pioneer. Most of all, he was a husband to Jeanne until her death, father to Kenneth and Laura, grandfather and great-grandfather. In his later years, his journey would take him to the back pews in the sanctuary at Cincinnati Friends Meeting, where he would become a member in 2018.

Quiet, reflective, and reserved, a man of few words, Quaker worship suited him, sharing with us his memory of singing in church when he was younger, “but now I like the quietness,” he would tell us. We would not often hear his voice during worship, but there was never any doubt when Dick arrived at or left Meeting. There would be the unmistakable sound of his Honda motorcycle, which he drove to Meeting as weather would allow, the motorcycle he began to ride in 2011 at the tender age of 80. He had ridden many years before with the abandonment of a young man, which led him thinking the better of it and stepping away from a motorcycle until he became a mature senior citizen.

Dick was born in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and grew up in Indianapolis. Following service in the U.S. Air Force, he graduated from Purdue University, with a degree in Electrical Engineering, specializing in analog and digital design of computers. Upon graduation he took a job at Cincinnati Milling Machine Company, later to become Cincinnati Milacron. He received his M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati.

Over the years, Dick joined several startups, including Compact, which created some of the first personal computers. He wrote specifications, designed, and built an advanced home alarm system. He designed and built a monitoring system to prevent machine tool failure from damaging a large astronomical mirror that rivaled the Hubble Space telescope. He had five patents issued in his name. He and his wife founded JR Computer Control, which built guest ticket monitoring systems for amusement parks, as well as breathalyzer interlocks.

His final career was as a college professor, teaching at Gateway Community and Technical College until he was 78 when he officially retired. Before that, he taught at ITT Technical Institute where he was program chair and an instructor in the CAD and Electronics programs. He was a member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, IEEE, and the Blanchester Chamber of Commerce. He was a member of Toastmasters, where he won numerous awards, and again, despite his shyness, enjoyed speaking and singing, in addition to woodworking, hiking and collecting antique phonographs.

With all his professional achievements, Dick is most remembered for his kindness. Despite his personal shyness, he served as a founding member of Leadership Clinton County. He was a founding board member of Interfaith Hospitality Network. At age 87 he slept in a common room on a simple cot and shared food with homeless families. That sense of community and communion with others is one of the things that led him to membership at CFM, telling us “I
think what we do in the community, the way we do things with and for the community is what we should be doing. I’m really glad to see us so involved.”

Along with his family and friends, we at Cincinnati Friends will remember him as the man who always wore shirts with a pocket, wherein there would always be some pens and pencils and a set of three-by-five index cards. There were no mathematical notations or scientific thoughts etched on those cards. There was something that meant more than all his professional achievements. On those cards was information about his grandchildren and great-grandchildren – their names and birthdays so he would never forget what was most important to him – kept always there in the pocket of his shirt, so very near his heart.

We who knew Dick Read more by the sound of his motorcycle than his voice may now think of him not only as the quiet and reserved Quaker who sat in a back pew every Sunday, but in light of a quote from Kurt Vonnegut that his sister Sandy Reiber had shared with him on Facebook.

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you will believe it to be a beautiful place.”

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