Cmdr. Nicholas D. Ricco, USN ( Ret. )
June 19, 1932 – May 4, 2019
Retired U.S. Navy Commander Nicholas D. Ricco Sr., 86, who was also known as a generous husband, father, business leader, entrepreneur and philanthropist, died Saturday, May 4.
He was born in New York City in 1932, attended Fordham University, enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1952 and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in September 1953 as a Navigator-Bombardier. He was assigned as an instructor to Strategic Air Command B-47 pilots and Air Force navigators from 1953 to 1959 at James Connally AFB. Educational requirements made a career in the military uncertain for those officers with minimal college experience so he returned to civilian life and attended the University of North Texas from January 1959 to January 1961. He obtained a BBA with Banking and Accounting as minors while supporting a family of five and continuing to fly with the Air Force Reserves.
In the fall of 1962, American General Insurance Company offered Ricco a managerial position when personal resources had become strained so he put graduate school on hold. In 1963, the Navy recruited Captain Ricco, a U.S. Air Force senior navigator and instructor, due to his aviation skills and the appointment as Navy lieutenant led to exciting new career fields and education. He was the first non-pilot in the Navy and Naval Reserves to be appointed as Executive Officer and Commanding Officer of Naval flying squadrons and other naval operational units as well and he was the first Naval flight officer appointed to a Naval Officer Promotion Board. He attended numerous ASW and related schools and achieved a high level of Naval skills as a tactical coordinator on P-2 and P-3 aircraft tracking and cataloging Russian submarine forces and averaged 90 days per year on active duty and flew thousands of hours serving his country during the Cold War. He retired from the Ready Reserve as a Commander in 1974. His 24 years of military service included one year in the 107th Infantry Regiment of the Army National Guard of New York while underage. He loved storytelling, helping others, Veterans Day parades and served as a past National Director of the Navy League of the United States. He created special financial and recognition awards for military members in the Southwest and on the East Coast of the United States.
All of those activities were concurrent with his insurance, real estate and finance businesses. From 1971 through 2003, Ricco also built or acquired 45 buildings and other properties while helping to raise a family. In addition to his devoted widow, Anna, the family includes 6 children, 16 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild. His widow, their children and grandchildren have all participated in family-owned businesses, community projects and the Navy League.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Salvatore and Maria Ricco and sister Marie Finochio of New York. Survivors include his widow, Anna, children Vincent and (wife) Alicia Ricco, Kenneth Kleinman and (wife) Suesie Roppolo, Lisa and (husband) John Sutter, Nanette Ricco, Nicholas Jr. and (wife) Susan Ricco, Sam Kleinman and (wife) Deborah Gershon; grandchildren Sarah Idlett, Stephanie Beckwith, Jason Victor, Jayne Ricco, Alexander Ricco, Emily Ricco, Gwendolyn Ricco, Madelyn Ricco, Kateann Kleinman, Taylor Ricco, Austin Ricco, Anna Ricco, Avery Ricco, Herschel Kleinman, Samantha Leef and Sabrina Roppolo; great grandchildren Nicole Idlett, Ansleigh Ricco and Judge Ricco; great-great grandchild Carmen Idlett.
Cmdr. Ricco developed the largest personally owned insurance agency in the State of Texas by virtue of acquisitions and production and that company, Diversified Insurance Services Inc. had grown to 63 employees before sale and his partial retirement in 1991. He also built a subdivision in the Rockport, Texas area. Cmdr. Ricco participated with his full vigor in many community and civic activities. For example, in 1965, he served as President of the Carrollton Civitan International and as Lt. Governor of Civitan International for the State of Texas. He and his group spearheaded the formation of a state supported special education program in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD with only a small class of unevaluated children served by only one caring teacher in a temporary building. The district subsequently became a model for special education in the Texas education system.
He also was a proud University of North Texas alumnus and supporter. In addition to his BBA, he earned a master’s degree in journalism from what is now known as the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism. He and his wife, Anna, served as mentors to hundreds of students over the years, including those in the UNT College of Business Professional Leadership Program and the Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism. They endowed the Ricco Ethics Scholarship Awards to encourage and promote ethics among students in all of UNT’s schools and colleges. They actively supported the UNT Health Science Center and particularly enjoyed the emergence of the “new” UNT Dallas campus. He also was a mentor to the Naval Civilian Cadet Corp of the Dallas ISD Middle School system. Cmdr. Ricco also was a long-time member of the UNT Mayborn School of Journalism Board of Advisors and the UNT College of Music Advisory Board. The Dean’s Suite in the UNT College of Music was renamed the “Nicholas and Anna Ricco Dean’s Suite” in 2018. Cmdr. Ricco was awarded the UNT Distinguished Alumni designation in 2003 and again in 2007. In 2015, Cmdr. Ricco was awarded the prestigious Mayborn Medallion for his fine work, dedication and commitment to his alma mater. Cmdr. Ricco also was a long-time champion for the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.
Anna and Nick became friends of the Fort Worth Aviation Museum where Nick served on the museum’s board of directors. The Riccos were presented with the annual Wings Award for their contributions to preserving the aviation history of North Texas. The museum’s U.S. Navy A-4C “Skyhawk" bears his name.
The family wishes to thank Pathway Hospice, Home Care Book, and the many other medical professionals who cared for their “Poppy”.
Visitation will be Wednesday May 8 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Rhoton Funeral Home, 1511 S Interstate 35E, Carrollton, TX 75006.
Interment will be Thursday, May 9, at 10 a.m. at the Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery, 2000 Mountain Creek Parkway, Dallas, TX 75211 with full military honors.
Following the interment, a memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 2400 N Josey Lane, Carrollton, TX 75006.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the National Kidney Foundation, or the University of North Texas campus of your choice.
- Visitation Wednesday, May 8, 2019
- Graveside Service Thursday, May 9, 2019
- Funeral Service Thursday, May 9, 2019
Cmdr. Nicholas D. Ricco, USN ( Ret. )
May 12, 2019
Nick married my Mother, LaVerna while he was stationed at Connelly Air-force Base in Waco Texas.
He raised my brother Clayton and me throughout our early life into our teens before divorcing.
He has always been an inspirational figure embodying a strong work ethic and a desire for knowledge.
He has add a powerful impact on the hopefully positive side of my brother Clayton and my personalities.
We will miss him greatly!
May 9, 2019
My thoughts and prayers to Anna and the family! Sandy Batchelor
May 8, 2019
Nick was one of my all-time favorite people from 1972. We shared many life experiences and business partnerships over the years. He was a mentor and advisor for many of my projects. Always a great benefit to me and seemed to bring satisfaction to him.
All family members must be very proud to have had Nick guide and assist when needed.
I may have never had a better friend.
May 8, 2019
My condolences and prayers to the Ricco Family.
May 8, 2019
Dear Anna and Family,
Grace and I send our deepest sympathy to you and your family. Nick was a dear friend and was "bigger than life itself". He was a consummate Entrepreneur and was passionate and unrelenting in the pursuit of his goals. He had high integrity and the best character. His reputation was impeccable and he was revered by everyone he met. His word was always his bond. We remember, with fondness, the trip to Hawaii and and ride on an atomic submarine. No mountain was too tall for Nick. Nick was proud of touching so many people's lives with his generosity. He won at everything he tried in his career-military, education, philanthropy and life itself. in recent years, Nick and I had some wonderful luncheons and sharing war stories. I will miss him dearly. Again my deepest sympathy to you and your wonderful family. He was very proud of all of you and adored his lovely Anna.
We send this note to you with love and warmest regards,
May 8, 2019
MAY THE LORD GIVE YOU AND FAMILY PEACE AND COMFORT AND TRANQUILITY. GOD BLESS AND SHALOM
May 7, 2019
Sorry for your loss, will be thinking of the family during this time. Novel