On March 4, 2013, a beautiful soul passed to his next life. Richard Dreher, 96, has reunited with his great love of 75 years, Gracie. Richard will be dearly missed by everyone who knew him, especially his family.
One of six siblings, Richard was born in Toledo on July 22, l916, to Fred and Catherine Dreher. Three of his ninety-year-old plus siblings survive him, brother, Harold; sisters, Margie Stirling and Elaine Venier. Sister, Irene Keith and brother, Henry predeceased, as well as his beloved Gracie. Also left to cherish his memory are sons, Dennis (Connie) and Douglas (Carol); grandchildren, Michele Myles, and Spencer, Stacey, and Krissy Dreher; as well as five great-grandchildren, Jai, Janu, Ryan, Andrew and Lijah.
Richard graduated from Scott HS in 1934 where he captained the football team earning All City honors. He excelled in industrial arts and engineering which would shape the rest of his life. He had to pass on a scholarship to Toledo University to help support his family. During the Depression, he worked in a cabinet shop, as an athletic instructor at Auburndale Elementary, at Swayne Field chasing down foul balls (one he had signed by Walter Johnson) and as head usher at the Avalon Theatre. Two noteworthy events occurred at the Avalon; he talked a man, intending to rob the theatre, out of his gun, and he met Grace Mercereau, his future wife.
In February, 1941, Richard enlisted in the Army Air Force. Upon completing basic training at Kelly Field in San Antonio and graduating with honors from the Flying Fortress School in Seattle, he returned home to marry Gracie. They spent his military career together in Phoenix and Roswell. He refused the offer to enter officer's training school and left the Service as staff sergeant in 1945.
Richard opened his own cabinet shop with intentions to start a garage building company, as there was none in Toledo. However, he was never a financial risk taker and didn't want to spend long hours away from his family. He was hired by Comte construction and soon became their lead superintendent. He built many churches in the area with his crowning achievement being the construction of Gesu Church in 1958. Richard continued his 30 year supervision career with Ruihley and Kuerten, Bostleman and retired from The Douglas Company. Richard was never a "leisure suit" superintendent. He could often be found wheeling concrete or having lunch on a nail keg with the rest of the workers. In 2005, he was awarded a "gold union card" for fifty years of continuous membership from the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners.
Richard's life was never one dimensional nor did he allow less than his best effort in any of his endeavors. He was president of Wernert PTA and the Whitmer Athletic Boosters and on the West Toledo YMCA Board, where he helped start the "Y" dances in the late 1950's, organized the Christmas tree sale to provide memberships for needy children, restored buildings at Camp Storer, and served as a delegate at the International Y's Men's conferences in Europe.
Many local charities are well aware of Richard's tireless work. In 1993, he was awarded the JC Penney's "Gold Rule" award and received a letter of commendation from the White House. He was nominated several times for volunteer of the year. He spent countless hours working at, to name a few, Mobile Market, Northwest Ohio Rehabilitation Center, Epilepsy Foundation, Luther Home of Mercy and Wildwood Metro Park. In his spare time he transported "old" people to various appointments.
Richard found time to be an award winning gardener and working with Ohio State University. He raised everything from rabbits and chickens to fruit trees, grapes and nearly every imaginable vegetable. By 1990 he began supplying local markets with his perfect raspberries. His garden led to his making his own wine, which won state awards.
In his "spare" time, Richard hooked rugs, did wood crafts, made various Christmas decorations and numerous other crafts.
In 2002, when Gracie's health began to fail, they moved to Alexis Gardens retirement apartments. He lost his beloved several months later. Often called the "Mayor of Alexis Gardens," Richard continued his volunteer ethic by making repairs, assembling furniture, serving tea, gardening and making perspective residents feel welcome.
Friends may pay their respects at Foth-Dorfmeyer Mortuary, 3815 Sylvania Ave. on Sunday, March 10, 2013, 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. or Monday, 9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. with services to follow at 11:00 a.m. Interment Toledo Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio,
, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or the West Toledo YMCA. Online condolences may be left for the family at
Published in Toledo Blade from Mar. 8 to Mar. 9, 2013