November 29, 1943 – May 10, 2018
Dick Noble, age 74, passed away on Thursday, May 10, in Lincoln, Nebraska surrounded by family and friends.
Born in Cohoes, New York, his first television appearances as a singer began at approximately age seven. He spent his pre-teen and teenage years in Rutland, Vermont where his quick wit, irreverence, and broadcast acumen delighted his peers (likely bewildered their parents) and quickly became legendary.
After attending high school at Mount Saint Joseph Academy in Rutland, he joined the United States Navy. Over the years, family and friends have been captivated by his artful storytelling about the life of a sailor and his adventures in underwater swimmers’ school in Key West; entertaining children as “Sparky” on television in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; traveling with Bob Hope’s USO tour and bringing it to life on the radio; meeting Pope John Paul II at the Vatican; teaching broadcast courses in Japan; and, sharing his voice, his intellect, his passion for music, and his humor with thousands of sailors and service members around the world. While in the Navy, he served on the USS Forrestal (CV-59) for a period of time and also studied broadcast journalism and media, earning a Bachelor of Arts from Butler University and a Master of Arts from Boston College. Among his naval duties was an assignment to the Radio Television Department at Defense Information School at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, where he was a senior instructor. Later, as a Senior Chief Journalist, he was assigned to the Public Affairs Division of the Allied Forces Southern Europe Command, a NATO multinational military command in Naples, Italy.
Upon retiring from the Navy, Dick returned to Vermont where he owned and operated commercial radio stations until such time as he moved to Nebraska. After arriving in Lincoln, Dick became the general manager of KZUM -- a not-for-profit community radio station known for its distinctive and eclectic programming format and its previous mission to increase cultural and ethnic awareness. During his tenure with the station, revenues nearly tripled and the station secured multiple grants to support HIV and AIDS Awareness public service campaigns and non-English language programming in an endeavor to support Lincoln’s immigrant and refugee populations and provide them with news and important health and community service information. In all, the station was broadcasting in Arabic, Bosnian, Chinese, English, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Dick was elected to serve the maximum of two terms as chair of the Board of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters before retiring from KZUM. He then turned to other forms of community service including volunteer work with Lincoln’s public and private schools, the Cable Advisory Board, and as a Human Rights Commissioner. He was active politically and worked to support candidates who shared his values and ideals -- most important among them: free speech, diversity and inclusion, gender equality, human rights, and civil rights. Dick recently renewed his interest in building model trains. He also loved photography and had an uncanny ability to see things that the rest of us might not even notice. He had a passion for writing, loved a great debate, and solved many of the world’s problems over breakfast or fine booze. And of course -- if you hadn’t noticed, he loved to talk. He made friends everywhere he went and always left an impression. He didn’t just want to share his stories, he wanted to hear everyone else’s. One of his favorite hobbies was traveling across the country and around the world collecting more stories to share. Oh yes, and there was baseball -- lots and lots of baseball.
Dick was preceded in death by his mother Frances Gardner; father Stephen Noble; brothers Alan Noble and Stephen Noble; sister Jean Smutco; brothers-in-law, Joe Smutco and John Rappa; and sisters-in-law, Marge Delaney and Gail Noble. He is survived by his wife Donnette Noble; children and grandchildren, Theresa (Jamal) Strayhorn – EJ, Evan, Aaron, and Amanda; Jeffrey (Vicki) Noble – Tyler, Emily, Jordan, and Robbie; Jason (Elissa) Noble – Blake and Ella; Sarah (Ramsey) Young – Rowan and Ayla; Sean (Rachel) Sweeney; mother Bea Noble Jasmin; sister Tootsie Noble Rappa; brother Jack Delaney; sister-in-law Patsy Noble; many cousins, nieces, nephews, la famiglia Bigliardo, shipmates, and dear friends all over the world. Dick believed as Mary Oliver did when she offered instructions for living a life -- “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” Dick was kind, generous, compassionate, respectful, and creative. He was a loving, remarkable, one-of-a-kind husband, dad, grandpa, son, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend. As he would say, “Mai sopra di te. Mai sotto di te. Sempre con te.” Never above you. Never below you. Always with you.
In lieu of flowers, Dick’s life and legacy can be honored with a memorial in his name to one of the following entities:
- Bright Lights Summer Learning Adventures (Lincoln, NE)
- KZUM Community Radio (Lincoln, NE)
- Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago, IL)
WSYB Christmas Fund (Rutland, VT) Opera House
67 Merchants Row , Rutland , VT 05701
- Celebration of Life Wednesday, May 16, 2018
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Katherine and John Checkley
May 17, 2018
Blessings Nettie, and Heartfelt Sentiments to Dick's entire family.
Memories: Dick was one of the many fine instructors at the Defense Information School admired by peers and held in high regard by students including the young Kathy Schoenlein and John Checkley. He guided us and we learned a lot. Almost six years later we returned to DINFOS, married and a bit nervous. Dick was there to greet us, make the appropriate introductions and make sure we were comfortable as we would be joining an impressive group of instructors who were led by Dick and several other senior staff. One thing hadn't changed over those ten years -- his confidence, generosity, and that wonderful smile.
During that tour in Indianapolis in the 80's he introduced us to Wrigley Field, the Cubbies, and a delightful season- ending weekend with the Cardinals in town. We ate well, shared plenty of laughs, and came away with a richer understanding of how worldly this Noble fellow was.
John was fortunate to meet Nettie and catch up with Dick several years ago in Chicago. Dick recommended a deep dish pizza at the Exchequer. Dick and John ignored their diets for that evening, while Nettie knew her morning run would allow her to continue enjoying every meal...guilt free. John left that meal thinking "what a lovely couple....and Dick still has that smile of his."
Kathy got to know Dick again on Facebook and it offered her a chance to truly appreciate his gifts. He was witty, urbane and a proud supporter of civil and equal rights. His posts on Facebook were profound and often funny.
His voice will be missed.
May 15, 2018
Dick and I began instructor training together 43 years ago in 1975 at the Defense Information School, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis (Lawrence), Indiana. He was a JO1 Navy Journalist and I was a new Department of the Army Civilian. We both were assigned to the Radio TV Department. Our friendship began following the first 10-minute presentation assignment in the instructor training course. He went first, finished on time, did good … real good. There was applause. I delivered my assignment about two or three presentations later. I went 10 minutes too long. As I was sitting down next to Dick, he began shaking his head and smiling with a little bit of a laugh. He leaned over and said to me, “good material but your timing is terrible. In broadcasting, we can’t have that. When we fix it, you’ll be good.” And we did fix it. And I did get good. And we became good friends. From Ft. Ben, to Naples, Italy, to Lincoln, Nebraska … in person, in writing, in photos, over the phone … such a good friend and such good memories. Always giving, caring, learning, smiling, interested. Nettie – Sarah – Dick’s/your dad’s updates were his graceful way of guiding us to carry on. Godspeed to all. To Dick Noble’s life, thank you!
May 15, 2018
Dear Nettie and all of Dick’s loving family,
I know there are no words to comfort you at this time but I want to make sure you all know there are so many of us thinking of you during this difficult time.
Dick meant so much to many people. His legacy will continue with all the grandchildren he loved so dearly. Dick’s curiosity and wisdom spread like a wildfire. I feel privileged to have come across him in my life. He lived life “big” and I will always try to emulate his open heart and humanity he had for all people. This earth has lost a champion of human kindness.
May 14, 2018
I am sorry I never got to know Dick, or you, for that matter. And it's awkward as hell to express condolences to someone you only know as the sister of the man I've been with for over 12 years. I know from personal experience, however, that families aren't perfect, and that life is messy, so I don't ever think in the wake of current circumstances this is ever a time but to say I am sorry for your loss.
Elaine F. Smith
May 13, 2018
Donnette was in a couple of my classes at Doane College and because I teach political science Dick invited me to the radio station to talk about the 2000 Presidential campaign on air. I recorded the show and was embarrassed by how many times I said "and uh". Dick was too much of a professional to make that mistake, but he didn't criticize me, he invited me back a couple more times. He was always kind, inquisitive, and smart. He asked me to predict the outcome of the election the day before it happened and I said "I think it's going to be really close." Because of that fortuitous prediction he invited me back to talk about the outcome of the election. When I took a job in Long Island New York I invited he and Donnette over for dinner before I left. They always seemed so happy. I was happy they had found each other. Upon returning to Lincoln my wife and I were pleased to get together with them. They were as happy 14 years later as they were when they first got together. We're going to miss Dick. Our condolences to Donnette and all of Dicks family. He was a great guy who gave a lot. I think he felt like he got a lot back.