Richard Edward Nowicke
February 6, 1932 – March 11, 2018
Richard Edward Nowicke February 6, 1932 – March 11, 2018
Richard E. Nowicke was born February 6, 1932 in Detroit, Michigan to Edward Nowicke and Alice Mary Renowden. His beloved brother John H. “Jack” Nowicke was born in 1934. The family lived in Detroit on Wykes Avenue with extended family members before moving to the home they built on West 9 Mile Road in Southfield. One houseguest who lived the basement on Wykes was not to be mentioned, and was possibly hiding from the Purple Gang.
Richard attended John Grace elementary school in Southfield, Michigan, and Redford Union High School, in Redford, Michigan. As a youth he enjoyed activities in Cub Scouts with his brother. Their mother Alice was the pack’s den mother and she continued to display some of their projects even after they were grown. The boys learned to hunt, fish, and swim, as well as fix cars from their father, Edward.
Richard excelled academically and in sports as a letterman in both football and track. He even served as a gossip columnist for his high school newspaper. Over several summers, Richard worked as a life guard at the FDR-CIO Labor Center Camp for Children (sponsored by the UAW-CIO Recreation Department and the Michigan CIO council) which was located a few miles North of Port Huron. At camp, he met the family of George Romney, then an executive at Nash-Kelvinator, who sent his children to this union camp for blue-collar workers.
After graduating from Redford Union he worked at Ford Motor Company for a time before he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. His first and only ship was the aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Shangri-La (CVA-38). He served as a damage control specialist, with occasional forays into serving as an M.P., and making furniture for officers. While serving in the Navy, he was introduced to Mary Hope Mitchell, the sister of his friend, James B. Mitchell, a fellow damage control specialist on the U.S.S. Philippine Sea (CVA-47, a sister ship to the Shangri-La). Richard and Mary were married in San Francisco in 1954. Their apartment was close to the Embarcadero and the ferry to Treasure Island where he was based.
When his duty station changed to San Diego, they lived near the San Diego Zoo, and could hear the lions roaring at night. They liked spending time in Balboa Park, just as they had enjoyed the Golden Gate Park when they lived in San Francisco. Richard assured Mary that washing and waxing his car was the most fun one could possibly have in a state park.
After his Naval enlistment was complete, he joined Mary (and by that time, Carole) in Southfield. They build a house on Gable Inn Road in Utica, Michigan and lived there until moving to Romeo in 1965. He started at Fisher Body as a wood model maker. By the mid-1960s, computerization was coming to General Motors and he first learned an obscure programming language called “INCA,” followed by FORTRAN and COBOL for computerized control of model making. He brought home brass-colored plastic punch tape and paper punch cards and made festive holiday decorations with them. At the end of his career at Fisher Body, he controlled a 5-Axis milling machine which was used to cut designs for glass (“glass blocks”) in automobiles.
At home, his carpentry skills came to good use in additions and modifications to the house, barn, and garage, and other wood projects. His children came to know the decibel levels of many power saws and were often asked to hold the ends of boards. He even applied his woodworking skills to Christmas trees—they never had quite the level symmetry he desired, so he would cut branches, drill holes, and rearrange them to suit his aesthetics.
He experimented with brewing and bottling beer and root beer, and making dandelion wine. Some of the bottles exploded. He would make gallons of sauerkraut in huge stoneware crocks in the basement. The fermenting sauerkraut was no secret to anyone entering the residence. The canned sauerkraut was delicious and was also known for its explosive properties. He grew a huge garden, maintained an orchard, and raised turkeys and rabbits. He loved plowing and mowing with the 1948 Ford 8-N, and 1965 Power King tractors.
He took advantage of plans that General Motors offered to always have luxury automobiles for his commute. In the early 1960’s he bought a Morgan Plus 4 that had been wrecked at Watkin’s Glen and restored it. The children loved riding in this convertible as well as the Morris Minor. One memorable drive was the time that a pheasant flew up in the air in front of them and was impaled on the hood ornament of the Mercury.
He was a voracious reader and purchased shopping bags full of books from the Friends of the Library’s book sales, read them, and re-donated them. He loved music. When he was in the Navy he taught himself to play guitar and concertina. He built a large cabinet for a stereo, installed high-end components and enjoyed classical music, opera, musicals, jazz, and folk. There were at least two if not three albums of music from “Peter Gunn.” He worked with Art Quatro at Fisher Body, and owned Suzi Quatro’s first recording with the “Pleasure Seekers.” He turned up the stereo’s volume and rattled with the windows with marches and bagpipe recordings. He was not as successful with self-tuition of the bagpipe, but he loved watching all of the pipe bands in the Peach Festival Parade.
In the later 1960’s he became interested in radio-controlled airplanes and enjoyed belong to a club in Romeo, making and flying planes with his friends. An early retirement from Fisher Body allowed him to engage in many hobbies as well as help take care of his elderly parents. By the 1990’s, he had transferred his interest from radio-controlled airplanes to radio-controlled boats. His well-made watercraft won prizes for workmanship as well as performances in radio-controlled boat competitions.
He married Judith Anne Beech, in Rochester, Michigan in 1993. She predeceased him in 2013. After her death, he became a member of the Rochester Lions Club and a wholehearted volunteer for their fund-raising efforts for Leader Dogs for the Blind. He power-walked daily in Rochester’s parks, keeping tabs on the ducks until peripheral neuropathy made walking difficult. He became an enthusiastic member of a gym on Rochester Road, and frequenter of the Greek diner next door to it. He loved going to Lipuma’s for Coney dogs.
Richard died in Rochester Hills on March 11, 2018, having been in failing health for the past two years. He leaves behind his daughter, Carole Nowicke, of Bloomington, Indiana, his son Richard B. Nowicke (Cheryl), of Beverly Hills, Michigan, his son Craig (Linda) Nowicke of Tampa, Florida, grandchildren Alex Nowicke of Fenton, Michigan, and Tonia Nowicke of Tampa, Florida, his nieces Kristine Nowicke Walker, Debra Nowicke-O’Brien, Nancy Nowicke Greenman, and nephew John Nowicke. For those wishing to make a donation in his memory, the family suggests Leader Dogs for the Blind.
- Mary Hope Mitchell, Wife
- Judith Anne Beech, Wife
- Carole Nowicke, Daughter
- Richard (Cheryl) B. Nowicke, Son
- Craig (Linda) Nowicke, Son
- Alex Nowicke, Grandson
- Tonia Nowicke, Granddaughter
- Edward Nowicke, Father
- Alice Mary Renowden, Mother
- John H. "Jack" Nowicke, Brother
- James B. Mitchell, Brother-in-law
- Kristine Nowicke Walker, Niece
- Debra Nowicke-O'Brian, Niece
- Nancy Nowicke Greenman, Niece
- John Nowicke, Nephew
- Leader Dogs for the Blind
- Visitation Friday, March 23, 2018
- Memorial Graveside Service Saturday, March 24, 2018
Richard Edward Nowicke
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March 20, 2018
Uncle Richard you will always be remembered as a kind man, warm hearted, and love to eat at our family functions. He will always be very dear to me and I am glad to call him my Uncle. He always had a smile on his face, I am glad to be a part of his family. Now you can antique with Aunt Judy and you both will never get tired. You were a great brother to my mother and father (Curtis & Martha Carnes ) and Uncle Mike (Mike Beech).
With love your niece,
March 17, 2018
Uncle Richard was a great man. I've often thought that Grandpa had great skills with both wood working and metal. It seemed like Uncle Richard inherited Grandpa's skills in wood working while my dad inherited his skills with machinery.
I remember how generous your father was in helping care for Grandma as she aged. Whenever we would visit he would proudly show us the progress he had made on his most recent model boat. His work was so meticulous and inspired me to give my all to projects I work on.
With deep regrets I will not be able to attend Uncle Richards funeral. However my absence should not diminish the sincerity of my thoughts to you as you endure this great loss. Uncle Richard leaves a part of him in all whose lives he touched - and after reading his obituary it is clear that this world is a much better place because of all those who had the privilege of knowing him.
Cousin John Nowicke