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Richard Pletcher

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Richard Pletcher Obituary
Richard Pletcher


Richard Pletcher, 80, of Ames, died September 12, 2015. A Celebration of Life Memorial Service will be at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, September 19 at Collegiate Presbyterian Church in Ames.

Richard H. Pletcher was born in Elkhart, Indiana on May 21, 1935, the son of Raymond Harold Pletcher and Annabelle Mary Pletcher. Richard graduated from Purdue University with a Mechanical Engineering degree in 1957. He married Carol Robbins on June 9, 1957 in Elkhart and the couple promptly departed for active duty in the U.S. Navy in California. Richard proudly served as Ensign and Ltjg for 3 years with amphibious forces in the Pacific.

After military service, Richard attended graduate school at Cornell University where he received the Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees. He worked as a senior research engineer at United Aircraft Research Laboratories in Hartford, CT from 1965-1967, and then joined the faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University. He was active in several technical societies including the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). He was a Fellow in ASME and an Associate Fellow in AIAA. He received awards from Iowa State University for both teaching and research. Richard received the ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award in Science in 2009. He was an associate editor of the Journal of Heat Transfer and served on the editorial advisory board of Numerical Heat Transfer. Richard conducted basic and applied topics in fluid dynamics and heat transfer. He served as principal investigator for numerous research grants from sponsors such as NSF, NASA, the Army Research Office, Allison Gas Turbines, John Deere, Department of Energy, Air Force Office of Scientific Research and served as a consultant to industry and government. He gave many invited lectures throughout the world. He authored or co-authored over 80 journal articles and several books, the most notable of which was Computational Fluid Mechanic and Heat Transfer, a textbook that survived three editions over a 30 year period. It was one of the first texts available in that emerging field made possible by the digital computer. He served as major or co-major professor for 33 doctoral students and 17 master's students. Richard was an active member of Collegiate Presbyterian Church, Town and Country Kiwanis, and an avid fan of ISU women's basketball.

Richard loved his family, Brittany dogs, hunting, fishing and computational fluid dynamics.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Carol; his son, Douglas (Judy) Pletcher of Edina, MN; his daughters, Laura (Byron) Olson of Edina, and Cynthia (Todd) Cisneros of Ankeny; his grandchildren, Cortelle and Samantha Pletcher, Bennett and Blake Olson, and Mason and Madeline Cisneros; his sister, Judy Floyd of Gardner, KS; his sister-in-law, Doris Kistler of Baton Rouge, LA; and many nieces and nephews.

Richard was preceded in death by his parents.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Collegiate Presbyterian Church, Israel Family Hospice House, or Iowa Brittany Rescue. Condolences and photos may be shared at


Published in Des Moines Register on Sept. 15, 2015
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