SERVICE: A Memorial Service will be held at 1pm Wednesday, April 15 at Highland Park United Methodist Church in the Sanctuary. A private interment will take place prior to the Memorial service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Frontiers of Flight Museum, Dallas; the Sammons Center for the Arts, Dallas; or a charity of choice.
MEMORIALS: Dick was born November 27, 1920 in Dallas. He attended Bradfield Elementary, Highland Park High School and SMU. After listening to the radio broadcast of Charles Lindbergh’s Trans-Atlantic flight, he knew he wanted to fly. He cleaned and tended airplanes at Love Field to earn money for flying lessons. At age 13, he piled pillows on the pilot’s seat of a Fleet biplane and took off on his first solo flight. Over 75 years later, he was still flying.
After graduating from Highland Park HS in 1938, he and a friend headed to southern California to seek their fame and fortune. Dick had won an audition for a singing position with the Hyman Charninsky Orchestra (the radio orchestra for KRLD) and, he had traveled, briefly, with another orchestra. He had met and become friends with Phil Harris and Glenn Miller. He had written several songs during this time and had sold one, “Dream”, to Miller for $150. While Miller liked the melody, he did not care for the lyrics and had them rewritten. That “new” song became “Moonlight Serenade”. Although Dick’s music career was short-lived, he did do some stunt flying in several films, including “Captains of the Clouds”, starring James Cagney. But the Hollywood life was not to be and he returned to Dallas. There, in 1940, he met and married Ethel Gensur from Cleveland, OH.
As the winds of war were gathering, President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the US was woefully short of qualified pilots. He initiated the Civilian Pilot Training Program to alleviate that problem. Dick enrolled in a government sponsored flight refresher course at SMU in order to qualify as an instructor in that program. He was subsequently assigned to Cimarron Field, Yukon, OK. His first bunch of cadets were from England and those first graduates returned home to fight in the Battle of Britain. After WW II, he joined United Airlines as a co-pilot. Then, he went to National Airlines as the youngest commercial Captain in the US. When National’s pilots went on strike over wage demands, he returned to Dallas and went to work for his father, H.M. Cree, Sr. as a Manufacturers’ Representative for automotive parts, along with his brother, Bert. When their father died in 1957, Dick and Bert took over the business, growing the operation from two sales people to nine and changing the company name to Cree and Cree, Inc., with Dick serving as President. The company is still in operation today. During his nearly three decades with Cree and Cree, Inc., Dick was an active member of the Automotive Booster Club, serving in local, state and regional officer capacities.
During his time with Cree and Cree, Dick recognized the greater efficiency of traveling their extensive territory by airplane. So, he and Bert invested in a Piper Comanche 250. Eventually, he became owner of 5 Star Enterprises, a Cessna Aircraft dealership located at Addison Airport, which he operated for over 25 years.
After Ethel’s death from cancer, Dick was introduced to Mary Anne Williams, a single mother raising a family of five: four boys and a girl. A perfect match for Dick’s family of four boys and a girl. They were married January 12, 1968 and the family of eight (Dick’s two older sons were already on their own) took up residence in Greenway Parks. Thus began the union that has lasted more than 47 years. Together, they have raised two families, welcomed sons- and daughters-in-law into the fold, spoiled 20 grandkids and doted on four great-grandchildren. They have circled the globe on a SuperSonic Transport, flown a hot air balloon over the vineyards of France, spent time in Wyoming and Arizona, given their time and support to numerous charities and organizations --- and, enjoyed waking up every morning to each other’s smile.
Among his many honors and awards, Dick was recognized by the FAA with the Wright Bros. Master Pilot Award for 50 years of continuous flight. He was a member of the 25 Investors Club and a long-time member of Dallas Country Club.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Mabel Wilson Cree; his father, H. M. Cree, Sr.; his wife, Ethel Gensur Cree; his brother, H. M. Cree, Jr.; and his granddaughter, Katie Rose Williams.
SURVIVORS: In addition to his loving wife, Mary Anne and his many friends and business associates, Dick is survived by his children: Richard W. Cree, Jr. and wife Carole; David W. Cree and wife Trudi; Lee V. Williams; Stephanie Ann Cree; Charles A. Williams; C. Christopher Cree and wife Carla; Elaine Myers and husband David; Bruce W. Williams; Brian Paul Cree and wife Shelly; and Brian Eliot Williams and wife Kim; twenty grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.