Col. Richard Traber (Dick) BATSON

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  • "Nancy, I am so sorry for your loss. Will see you soon, ..."
    - Betty Shanahan
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    - Christie Kirkpatrick
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Passed away peacefully at home on March 10, 2014 at the age of 92, with his wife by his side. Dick was born on June 24, 1921 to Roscoe and Getty Batson in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His father, Roscoe Batson, was a graduate of West Point, Class of 1911. Roscoe served in the Field Artillery and in the Department of the Inspector General. Dick's grandfather, Traber Norman, was also a West Point graduate in the class of 1892. As an "army brat", Dick spent most of his childhood and youth at Army Posts in the United States. He entered West Point in 1939, directly from High School. During his first class year, Dick served as a Cadet Captain, a Training Officer of the First Regiment, a member of the Cadet Honor Committee, and was the Cadet Hockey team manager. He graduated second in his class in January 1943, choosing the Corps of Engineers for his career. After a brief officer orientation course at the Engineer School at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, he was assigned Platoon Leader and later Company Commander in the 301st Engineer Combat Battalion of the 76th Infantry Division. The Division first trained for combat in Maryland and Wisconsin and subsequently was sent to the European Theater of Operations. For his ETO actions, Dick earned the Bronze Star. After the defeat of Germany, he was transferred for a short time to the 105th Engineer Combat Battalion of the 30th Infantry Division in training combat for the Pacific Theater. From March 1946 to April 1947, he was Declassification Officer, in the Manhattan District, at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The work involved administering the removal of classified information from scientific and technical material developed during the atomic bomb project. He was then transferred to the Pentagon where he served as Special Assistant to General Groves, the Chief of the Manhattan District who was heading up the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project. From June 1948 to July 1949, Dick attended the California Institute of Technology, where he earned a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering and met his future wife Nancy, a professional singer! From July 1949 to August 1951, he served in Alaska as Special Assistant to the District Engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who was in charge of military and civil works construction. From August 1951 to June 1952, Dick attended the Advanced Course for Army Engineer Officers at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. During his Christmas vacation, he traveled to Pasadena, California, where he married Nancy Jane Roberts, who came back to Virginia with him. From June 1952 to July 1956, Dick and Nancy were stationed at West Point, where Dick served as an Associate Professor of Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics. After attending the Command and General Staff College, Dick then commanded the 8th Engineer Combat Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, in Korea from August 1957 to October 1958. During that time he was sent on a six-month special assignment as Advisor to the newly formed Burmese Defense Academy. He then returned for a three-year tour at the Pentagon where he was the Director of Research on the blast and shock effects of nuclear weapons, Defense Atomic Support Agency. While working at the Pentagon, Dick and Nancy's son, Thomas, was born in 1960. After one year as a student at the Army War College, Dick earned a Masters Degree in International Affairs. Dick was then sent to Europe where he served as the Engineer for the Fourth Logistical Command in France and then as the Commanding Officer of the Kaiserslautern Engineer Depot in Germany. From July 1965 to July 1968, Dick was the District Engineer of the New York District, where he supervised the expansion construction of West Point as well as other military construction projects in New York and New Jersey. This included beach erosion construction, navigation facilities, and flood control. For his work, he was awarded the Legion of Merit and the New York Port Authority Medal. Dick then returned to Korea, serving for a year as Engineer Group Commander for the I Corps. He returned to Virginia in 1970 to serve out the remainder of his 32 years of military service. He served as Deputy Director for the Institute for Water Resources. This Institute was newly established by the Army Corps of Engineers to seek the improvement of its civilian water resource projects through research and technical training. For his work there, Dick was awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster to the Legion of Merit. Upon Dick's military retirement, Dick and Nancy moved to Northern California where Dick worked for eight years as a Project and Senior Engineer for Brown and Caldwell, an engineering firm specializing in design and construction of state-of-the-art regional water and sewage related facilities. Subsequently, he worked for two years as a consultant on engineering and construction claims for the law firm, Lempres and Wulfsberg. Dick and Nancy built a country home on a mountain ridge with a panoramic view of Santa Rosa. Dick loved the beauty and diversity of Sonoma County, enjoying many jaunts in the area and to San Francisco, Las Vegas and elsewhere in the West. They took several fishing trips to Alaska and Canada and traveled extensively abroad. Dick and Nancy also enjoyed vacationing and spending time with Tom and his family. Dick adored his grandchildren, teaching them chess and offering grandfatherly wisdom. Nancy's purchase of a horse to ride in the adjacent Annadel State Park mushroomed into many things "horsey". They began raising and showing prize Missouri Fox Trotter horses. This, in turn, led to their help in establishing and later presiding over a Gaited Horse Association for Northern California and Nevada. Dick was a devoted family man. He greatly enjoyed dining out with his wife and family in many of the fine restaurants of Sonoma County. He also enjoyed playing bridge, reading historical novels, listening to classical music, and watching sports, especially golf. He had a keen sense of humor, always seeing the bright side of life. His fortitude and strength to "carry on" was always present, even in his final days. His greatness and zest for life will be enormously missed. Dick was preceded in death by his older brother, Douglas Batson, and his sister-in-law, Dr. Lois Roberts. He is survived by his beloved wife Nancy, his son Tom, daughter-in-law Lynette, grandson Steven, and granddaughter Jessica, all of Santa Rosa. Family and friends are invited to attend Funeral Services, Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. at the Church of the Incarnation, 550 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, followed by a graveside committal service at Santa Rosa Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation, in Dick's honor, to Church of the Incarnation. DANIELS CHAPEL OF THE ROSES FUNERAL AND CREMATION SERVICES 707-525-3730
Funeral Home
Daniels Chapel of the Roses
1225 Sonoma Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95402
(707) 525-3730
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Published Online in the Press Democrat from Mar. 15 to Mar. 18, 2014
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