We’re here today to mourn the passing but also to honor the life of Richard Adler, beloved husband, brother, father, grandfather and cherished friend. It isn’t a platitude to say that Dick’s passing has spared him a lot of suffering and agony. But we are saddened that this has happened and this is all very hard.
Dick was born in the Bronx on October 5, 1932, the son of the late Benjamin and Sarah, the younger brother of Alvin, who has always been a wonderful brother, and we mourn with Al and Vita on this sad day. He graduated Morris High School and eventually obtained an Associate degree in Civil Engineering from SUNY Delhi. The graduation was in June but it was in the snow.
The stories about how Dick met Joyce are just charming; his cows liked to wander and graze and he followed them to where she lived. When he would come knocking on her window at 6 o’clock in the morning, her father would say: “That meshuganneh is here again.” They had a small wedding in Monticello 1953 in the rabbi’s house. Eventually they moved to North Haven and they have lived for forty years on Pool Rd. They would have been married sixty years in December.
He worked for the Connecticut Dept of Transportation for 32 years, retiring as a records examiner/auditor in 1991. He helped to build Route 84 among other important projects.
In 1967, Dick and Joyce had Marcie and she has been the light of their life. Marcie had a great father who taught him many things like long division but much more than that; he taught her about life. Her friends behaved when they slept over because they were so scared of him; they didn’t know he was just a big pussycat. Dick and I talked about Marcie the other day. We both wondered if anyone ever had a better child.
Dick was a wonderful grandfather to Keith and Eliana. And I want to say to the kids: He loved each of you and he knew how much you loved him. Keith, he loved how you worked with his tools in the garden or how you worked with him in the yard; He loved that you enjoyed helping him.
There are many wonderful memories. But perhaps the happiest are the two Disney cruises.
A very special day in Dick’s life was Ellie’s Bat Mitzvah ceremony earlier this year. You should have seen her grandfather’s face that morning. I’m not sure anyone was ever prouder of anyone or anything. He would refer to Ellie as “the little Rebbitzin,” which means the little rabbi. This was his way of saying what it meant to him that Ellie has such a strong identity.
Dick was a good father-in-law to Kris and there was a real closeness; if you would have seen Kris’s face when he saw Dick yesterday, you would know what he meant to him.
Dick was a good brother-in-law to Adele.
Dick Adler would do anything for anyone if you asked him. He was a member of the Northeast Volunteer Fire Assoc. Company #5. He was active in the North Haven senior center. He sang in the Chorus and even played Mah jongg.
He was the Girl Scout cookie man for twenty years. This was a huge job. He cleaned out the garage in the spring to bring in 5000 cases of cookies. He had a Lifetime member card from the Girl Scouts that said that he was an adult. It was the only organization that would state that he was an adult. Everyone else understood that he was just a big kid. Connecticut Trails Council gave him the highest national volunteer award.
Sometimes his humor could have a little edge on it, or even be a little cynical. But he had a great sense of humor, right to the very end. I went to see him Sunday afternoon at the hospital. I had no idea that it would be the last time I would see him, especially because he was in fine form. We were bantering back and forth and frankly, he was finnier than I was. As I was leaving, I told him not to take any wooden nickels, and he said, “With the price of wooden nickels being what they are today, I certainly won’t go near them.” I’ve been telling people not to take wooden nickels for thirty years. That was the best answer I ever got.
At the end, Dick wasn’t scared or worried for himself; he was just tired. But he was always worried about Joyce. On a day that I saw him recently after he had received some very bad news about himself, all he talked about was Joyce. Isn’t that what love is, to worry about the one you love more than you worry about yourself?
I am trying to talk about Dick Adler with words, but I can’t figure out how to transmit his essence. I know a lot of people, hundreds of not thousands, and to me, he was not like anyone else; he had his own personality. There were no games, no pretensions; everything was up front and on the table. And for me, this was always refreshing, like a breath of fresh air. Not even twenty-four hours before he died, he was still completely himself, and I’m happy that he died still very much himself.
To Joyce, Marcie, Alvin and the whole family, we wish you G-d’s comfort at this difficult time. He was a righteous man. And he was a good guy. May he rest in peace. Let us say Amen.