Dick's love for Alaska began in a Milwaukee, Wisconsin high school as he listened to a guest speaker extol the varied adventures of the pure wilderness found in the Territory of Alaska. In 1948, as an 18 year old, Dick and a buddy pooled their fortunes to purchase a 1938 used bakery truck to make the journey north. Thus began their one-month trip via the Alaskan Highway to Fairbanks, Alaska. Five months of adventure, gold mining, hunting, fishing and real "Alaskan" work convinced Dick a college education would be needed to support a lifetime Alaska habit.
Dick earned a Bachelor's of Science in Fish and Game Management from Oregon State University in Corvallis. In 1962, he earned his Master's Degree in Marine Biology from the University of Hawaii. He became Dr. Rickard R. Straty in 1969 when he completed his PhD from Oregon State University in Fisheries and Oceanography.
Dick's profession was indeed his ticket to a lifetime in Alaska. In 1956 the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in Seattle, WA, transferred all biologists engaged in fisheries research to downtown Juneau. By 1960, these offices were outgrown and the entire staff was relocated into their new facilities at the Auke Bay Fisheries laboratory. Dick's career culminated in his acceptance of the position, Investigation Chief for the laboratory's Marine Investigations Program. However, secretly, or not so secretly, he loved fieldwork best. Dick is best known for his investigations involving the migrations of Bristol Bay sockeye salmon.
Dick enjoyed overseas travel and enjoyed many and varied trips abroad, work related and personal.
He retired in 1986 from the Auke Bay Lab and spent the next nine years...(What do you think-fishing!) operating a charter fishing business with his wife Geraldine Straty.
His lifetime fishing dream came true in 1976 when he landed a 50 pound 5 oz King Salmon and took FIRST place in the 30th annual, Bicentennial Golden North Salmon Derby!
Dick died at home September 19, 2012, after a yearlong battle with cancer. By longstanding personal request, Dick's ashes will be scattered over Telaquana Lake, AK - the site of his wilderness cabin hunting retreat and very favorite place in the world.
Dick is survived by wife Geraldine Straty, brother Gerald Straty, daughters Jill Atlas and Joy Shier, son-in-law Patrick Shier, stepchildren Bern, Wendy, Albert and Coreen Savikko, grandchildren Aubrey (Atlas) Bartolo, Ben and Elizabeth Shier, Stephen and Holly Shier, Natalie Shier, Cassie Veasey and Alexis Kast, nieces Gail and Lynne Straty, and great-grandchildren Agatha, Ethan, Seth and Tabitha Shier.
A Celebration of Dick's life will be held Monday, October 1, 2012 from 5:00 – 8:00 PM, at Douglas island Pink & Chum Hatchery (Dipac). In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be given to Hospice of Juneau.