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Richard Saxer


1928 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Richard Saxer Obituary
(News story) Richard Saxer, a retired Air Force lieutenant general and Toledo native who made regular return trips to northwest Ohio during and after a 33-year military career, died Tuesday in Maple Knoll Village retirement community, Springdale, Ohio. He was 88.

He'd been in declining health after breaking a hip in August, his daughter Ann said. General Saxer and his wife, Marilyn, lived in Springboro, Ohio, near Dayton, since the mid-1990s. He'd spent time most summers since childhood on the Lake Erie shore, first at Lakeside, Ohio.

"For all the moving around we did, we considered that home," his daughter said. The past 20 years, he and his wife had a place at Marblehead.

He closed his military career in 1985 as director of the Defense Nuclear Agency, which oversaw the Defense Department's nuclear programs. He had a master's degree in aeromechanics from the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and a doctorate in metallurgical engineering from Ohio State University.

When he was promoted to brigadier general in 1977, The Blade reported that he designed and developed an integrated nuclear weapons loading system for the tactical air command. He'd also serve as project officer for nuclear safety studies of Air Force weapons systems and developed Wright-Patterson's graduate-level materials engineering program. He received a Defense Superior Service Medal for his part in developing re-entry systems for Minuteman and Trident weapons.

"He loved the business of nuclear weapons development and loved supporting the nuclear triad," said his son, Robert, a retired Air Force colonel. "He was a man of intense loyalty, few words, and great leadership. He had a phenomenal reputation."

The son of Gertrude and Albert A. Saxer, Richard K. Saxer was born Aug. 31, 1928, and grew up on Royalton Road in West Toledo. At DeVilbiss High School, from which he graduated, he was a 15-letter athlete. He went to Bowling Green State University, where he played sports and majored in physical education.

"He loved math and science," his son said, and imagined himself a high school coach and math and science teacher. He also had a family history of military service, with uncles in World War II and grandfathers in World War I. He wrote a letter of application to the U.S. Naval Academy and learned in 1948, as his second year at BGSU ended, that he was accepted. His formal appointment to the academy came from then-U.S. Rep. Homer Ramey (R., Toledo).

He spoke later of leaving by train, Annapolis bound.

"It was the pivotal moment in his life and changed everything," his son said.

At the academy, General Saxer received varsity letters in track and junior varsity letters in basketball. His senior year, he was a midshipman mustering petty officer. He received a bachelor of science degree in 1952 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Force. His academy graduating class included future astronauts Thomas Stafford and James Lovell.

Early on, General Saxer was in Albuquerque performing nuclear safety studies and testing. He served in what was then French Morocco and did a tour of duty in Vietnam during the war to deal with landing gear and other aircraft challenges, his son said.

His own education continued, with studies at the Armed Forces Staff College and Industrial College of the Armed Forces and a management program for executives at the University of Pittsburgh. And he was an educator, teaching at the Air Force Institute of Technology and the Air Force Academy.

"He loved to be a professor," his son said.

He had Defense and Air Force Meritorious Service medals.

Two grandsons also were service academy graduates - Kevin Mott, now a Marine Corps veteran, and Casey Mott, an Air Force veteran.

"We've always felt a strong pull for public service, and he was very committed to that," his son said.

In retirement he served on corporate and other boards. He was a former chief executive of Universal Technology Corp.

Surviving are his wife, the former Marilyn Mersereau, whom he married July 19, 1952; daughters Jane Mott, Kris Eisentrout, Ann Ford; son, Robert Saxer; nine grandchildren, and a great-grandson.

Memorial services, to be held at the U.S. Naval Academy, are pending.

This is a news story by Mark Zaborney. Contact him at [email protected] or 419-724-6182.
Published in Toledo Blade on Oct. 22, 2016
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