Richard Bowman Degener, age 75, of Holland, Ohio, passed away July 24, 2013. He was born December 2, 1937, the eldest of two children to the late Richard and Eileen Degener in Detroit, Michigan. He was raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, graduating from Grosse Pointe (South) High School in June, 1955. He attended The University of Michigan where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1959 and Masters of Business Administration in 1961. He was a member of Chi Psi fraternity, as was his father before him. Following graduation, he enlisted in the Air Force Reserve and upon completion of his active duty joined Federal-Mogul Corporation in December, 1961, pursuing a career in manufacturing management. He relocated in 1962 to Greenville, Michigan where he met and married Mary Beth Nelson (in 1963) who preceded him in death in 1987. They raised three children, daughters Tammy and Sally and son, Richard.
In 1988, Richard married his childhood sweetheart, Joycelyn Marie (Head) Georlett, shortly thereafter relocating from St. Louis, Missouri to Holland, Ohio where Dick joined Libbey-Owens-Ford (Pilkington). The couple were initially members of Trinity Episcopal Church, and then Sylvania United Church of Christ where his wife, Joycelyn, served as ordained clergy.
Dick's professional career included three employers, all associated with the automotive parts industry, retiring after nearly 50 years where his final assignment with Pilkington PLC was as Chief Operating Officer of the North American and European automotive replacement markets, employing 5,000 Pilkington employees. During 1997-1999, he commuted monthly between Henley-in Arden, UK and his permanent home in Holland, Ohio, retiring in mid-1999 to care for his beloved acreage in Springfield Township.
Dick served on the boards and as a member of numerous business and social organizations over his years in the Detroit, MI, Greenville, MI, Lancaster, PA, St. Louis, MO, and Toledo, OH, most recently including The Toledo Country Club and the National Glass Association during his time in the Toledo area.
Dick was a lifelong power boating enthusiast, racing outboards for several years on the American Power Boat Association circuit and contributing to the sport in a variety of ways. Upon relocation to the Toledo area he restored his racing hydroplane from the 1960's, donating it to the National Motorsports Hall of Fame. He also restored a copy of his first automobile, a 1954 Oldsmobile, Super 88 convertible with which he and Joycelyn competed for several years in the Antique Auto Club of America and in a variety of other sponsored events around the U.S. and Canada, winning numerous awards. He was a long time supporter of several Toledo charitable organizations including Cherry Street Mission, Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo Symphony, and Maumee Save-A-Pet.
Richard is survived by his wife, The Reverend Joycelyn Degener, and by his only sibling, Sally (Degener) Hickman of Adrian, Michigan, as well as by his daughters, Tammy Weick of Mt. Dora, Florida and Sally Ford and her four children (Mary, John, Jack and Bradley Ford) of Appleton, Wisconsin.
A Memorial Service celebrating his life will be held Saturday, September 7, 2013, at 2 p.m. at Sylvania United Church of Christ. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials be made to a
or to the charities suggested online at
Arrangements by Walker Funeral Home 419-841-2422.
Published in Toledo Blade on July 28, 2013