Richard Saum on Liberty Ridge, Mt Rainier (Marc Soltan photo)

Celebrating the life of
Richard 'Dick' Saum 1944-2000


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Memories from the March 2 Memorial Service:

Some of Richard's Favorite Poems:

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By Lane Kerkering:

It is a sad day that brings us all here together, but such a special time and what a great opportunity to have the chance to share our thoughts and memories of Richard Saum. Richard. Now, I knew him as Dick, not as Richard.

To me Dick was both a co-worker and a friend. You learn a lot about a person after working with him day after day for many years and I can tell you for a fact that Dick was not a morning person; you did not want to plan any early morning meetings. Dick has also been known to attend meetings when food was being served and then sneak out at the first opportunity. He was, however, intelligent, thoughtful, and patient. He would explain phase angle calculations, or interferometers, or the various scan algorithms without once reminding you that he had had the same discussion with you before or making a comment that it was something that you should already know. He not only put up with, but also was an active participant, in all of the tasks that go along with working in a small office. We miss him. The office is a different place without him. Dick was a calming presence and a knowledgeable engineer. At one time I would have described Dick as a smart, sensible guy, but that was before I heard about the birthday bungee jumping expedition. Then I figured out that he was just plain nuts! But I was wrong. That wasn't the co-worker Dick, that was the adventurer Dick.

The adventurer Dick traveled, climbed, and hiked with his life-long friends all over the world. Dick and his group of adventure friends are awe-inspiring, not only in the trips and adventures that they have been on together, all of the climbs and hikes that they have accomplished, but in the way they care so much about each other. Seeing them and the support and love that they gave Dick these last few months is something that I will never forget. Mark and Connie, Herb, Eve, Libby and Steve - my heart aches for each of you.

Someone once wrote "I should like to spend the whole of my life in traveling abroad, if I could anywhere borrow another life to spend afterwards at home." And I believe that was how Dick felt. As much as he loved the adventures, his real love was home. Dick's home wasn't Santa Barbara, his home wasn't a place at all, his home is named Mary. And at home he wasn't even Dick at all, he was the Dickster. It was Dickster that watched the Bill's games and helped to raise Liza and to cherish Chyrelle. And while no house is ever without its shares of tears, Dickster's and Mary's is a house that is so full of sunshine and light and love. This is because together, Mary and Dickster had each found their perfect soul mate. Two people so incredibly right for each other that when you look at one you see the perfect reflection of the other. And that is still true now, with you Mary, I can see him now.

I asked Mary once what name Dick preferred Dick or Dickster and she told me the name he liked was Richard. Richard. Back to what he started out as when Ann and Art were blessed with the twins and this whole adventure got started. Just meeting Richard you knew that he was blessed with a warm and happy family. Ann and Art you must be so proud. Richard was such a reflection of his family's love. I think that from Ann and Art he got his intelligence and he grace. With you David, together, you both got such a love of travel, adventure and camaraderie. What terrors you must have been together. And after meeting both of Richard's sisters, you Jeannie and you Christine, I know that growing up with you is where Richard got his sweetness and gentleness.

But no matter if it was Dick, Richard, or Dickster that we knew - all of us here love you and miss you and are praying for you now.

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By Arden Kysely:

This is a good place for remembering Dick. He loved to climb, to be on top of a rock, or a hill or a mountain. Dick taught me the basics of rock climbing on the boulders of Painted Cave Road, patiently showing me how to play the game of strength, balance, and tenacity--the same qualities he exhibited in his daily life.

Last year, just about this time, Dick and I rode the Solvang Century, a 100 mile bicycle ride around the Santa Ynez Valley. He had made a remarkable recovery from his first surgery and was eager to be out there putting his body to the test and experiencing life. As the miles wore on and took their toll on us, the rain and sweat mixing on Dick's brow didn't dampen his smile. He cranked out those 100 miles like he'd been down with a cold instead of major surgery. At the end, if you'd suggested that he'd accomplished something extraordinary, he would have shrugged off the compliment.

Dick had a quiet sense of humor, but I think he laughed harder on the inside than he let on. I used to run into him at the gym, where he'd be doing pull-ups by his fingertips to strengthen his hands for climbing. Later he'd stroll by as I was struggling to finish a set on the weight bench, a sly grin on his face. "One more good one," he'd always say. Then he'd saunter off to the next machine, leaving me laughing and unable to complete that last repetition.

I saw Dick's perseverance in action when he got interested in triathlons. He had just enough swimming skill to keep his head above water when he started, but did that stop him? If you knew Dick, you know that nothing stopped him. He persisted through many tough workouts at the UCSB pool. He learned to swim better, he trained hard on his bicycle, and he ran the race he had set his sights on. No fanfare, no hype-- just a lot of Dick's sweat on the pavement and a gleam in his eyes at the finish line.

Dick and I shared an interest in the outdoors, and he would sometimes invite me along on his adventures--often with little advance notice. I got the impression that he'd wake up on Thursday with the idea for a ridiculously strenuous hike, then leave Friday after work, probably walking the first miles in the dark of night. I never climbed Mt. Whitney or hiked the Zion narrows with him, but he showed me his favorite hike up Cathedral Peak, and together we explored the local backcountry on our mountain bikes.

Looking for the right words to describe Dick, I leaned on my favorite thesaurus. Starting with the word fortitude made my search a short one. Listed beneath it were words like constancy, determination, endurance, heart, and stamina, among others. These were the qualities that stood out whenever Dick tackled a challenge. But they tell only half the story. You also need words like gentle, bright, generous, and compassionate to round out any description of Dick Saum.

A week from now I'll be riding the Solvang Century again. I haven't been riding my bicycle as much as I should to get ready, but with the courageous example that Dick set for me last year, how can I fail to finish? And don't worry, Dick--I'll make it one more good one.

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By :

Most of the Richard's friends on the West coast knew him as Dick, but when we were growing up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, he was Richard and I was his twin brother.

Richard was always causing some kind of trouble and it started as early as age 2 1/2. Our mother had taken our sister Jeanne to see the doctor, and Mom mentioned that she had twins who did not talk at 2 1/2, and all they did was drool and make strange noises. The doctor replied "Sure sign of mental retardation." Our mother was so shocked that she didn't know what to say - one mentally retarded child was a tragedy, but two! Later she learned that twins often learn to speak late. Why should we bother, when we had all we needed without communicating with adults!

Richard's next problem adjusting to society came in grade school where both of us were accused of cheating since we had exactly the same grades, and even our mistakes on tests were the same. It was decided to move us into separate classes to stop this immoral behavior. I don't think we had a clue what was happening at the time, and it did not bother us to be in separate classes. But when we learned about it later, it seemed ridiculous. The identical grades we were getting were C's or worse, and why would we be stupid enough to cheat by copying each other's wrong answers!

Outside of school Richard also found time to get into trouble. There was an undeclared war going on with the neighborhood family of grouches, and it escalated when one of these kids arranged to have a letter sent to us announcing "The 500 ball point pens engraved with your name are ready, so please pay for them before delivery." Richard and I came up with a response on the day after Christmas. We placed a classified ad in the local newspaper announcing "Best Prices Paid of Used Christmas Trees" and included the neighbor's phone number. The response was so great that the newspaper had to publish a retraction on the front page the next day. Even after many years, we still get comments on this prank.

Just before Richard and I graduated from high school we decided to attempt the perfect crime. Late one night before graduation, we took a fertilizer spreader out to the lawn in front of the high school and laid out the graduation year in big letters with fertilizer. The next morning we went up to the top floor of the high school and we could see it very plainly. The principal went ballistic and asked the fire department to come out and hose down the lawn. Then he announced that the class gift would have to be used to re-seed the lawn, and furthermore, he knew exactly who was responsible! Only the Saum twins could have committed such a dastardly deed. The next week the grass came back with a vengeance due to all the fertilizer.

After that, Richard did not get a letter of recommendation to go to college from the principal, but Richard went on the Michigan State where he was on the Dean's List the first year, and later went to graduate school at Princeton.

People often ask me what it is like to be a twin, and I respond that the best feature is having someone who has identical interests. Any time I came across something particularly interesting, I always knew that Richard would feel exactly the same about it. That is how I will miss him most, every time I want to tell him about something special. And that is how he will always live in my heart.

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By Jeanne Wine:

David has already told some stories about life in the Saum Family. Our family was a lot like a 50's family TV "Leave it to Beaver", but more eccentric. David and Richard were always busy with science experiment like building telescopes in the basement or setting off model rockets. Richard was a great older brother. I admired him greatly. He was one of the smartest people I have ever met, and a sweet and gentle person.

Richard went to Princeton for graduate school. While he was there I graduated from college and went to Boston to find a job. When I couldn't find one there, Richard invited me to come to Princeton to visit him. I came down and got a job in Princeton at Educational Testing Service. At that time, Princeton students and professors dined together in an imposing gothic dining room in their academic robes. Richard snagged me a robe and I ate many meals there with him. I always wondered why I didn't have any luck meeting guys there. I later learned that people always saw Richard and me together and did not know I was his sister.

I have a clear memory of a family vacation almost 20 years ago at Sunset Beach in North Carolina. Richard and I were walking together on the beach and he told me that he had met a special woman that he wanted to be with. If you know Richard you know it is rare for him to be so revealing of his emotions. I knew that he had met the love of his life

Her name was Mary.

How Richard handled his illness tells a lot about the person he was. He had his first surgery in December, 1998. The rest of the family wanted to come out to California, but Richard did not want us to make a fuss over him. The rest of us gathered at my house in North Carolina as we had planned, and we were very concerned and upset. Richard called us on Christmas Eve and told us he had gotten a flight to North Carolina on Christmas morning. We had a very special Christmas with him. We asked him if his doctor had said it was OK to fly. Richard said that he had not asked him.

During that visit, Richard told me that the doctor had told him he had one year to live. We talked about what he should do in that one year. As we talked it was clear that Richard lived his life with no regrets. He had no unfinished business or scores to settle with family or friends, and he wouldn't change any thing about his life. He did spend the last year having many special times with Mary and the family and pursuing adventures such as skiing hut to hut in the alps, and hiking in Maine, and working at Comtek.

All the while, I never heard Richard complain, feel sorry for himself or be angry. He was very centered, at peace with himself and life, almost Zen-like.

These last few difficult months…Connie says…we've all become better people because of Richard. There has been a special kind of caring for Richard and for each other.

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By John Cummings:

By a devious route I received a copy of one of your e-mails talking about Dick's illness. I was surprised and very saddened to learn of it. I have fond memories of enjoyable times with Dick, primarily on TDY at Litton AMECOM.

I remember he coerced a bunch of us to go to an Ethiopian restaurant in DC. We finally understood why the Ethiopians were starving; even they couldn't eat their cuisine. Weird stuff, including steak tartar that seemed to seeth and expand in the bowl. Dick never asked us back.

I remember one evening Dick, Jim Caprio went to a restaurant together in College Park. It was busy so we had to wait outside. Jim and I were talking together and Dick wandered away. Next we knew he had scaled the front wall of the restaurant to the delight of the other patrons. He invented the "climbing wall"!

I remember climbing the gorge walls of the Potomac with him one Sunday. We also watched some other climbers doing Australian rappels down the walls. He told me of the time he had climbed El Capitan; I think he also spent the night on the face nestled down in a hammock!

I remember going with him to a spa north of College Park. I was always amazed by his strength, but, of course, that went hand-in-hand with his rock climbing.

I remember he drove Comptek management up the wall when he insisted on taking strange trips, like to Peru, instead of going home after every three weeks of TDY.

I remember an unpleasant for all performance appraisal Jim Caprio and I gave Dick at Litton. We told him he was the heir apparent to Jim's technological crown, but he would need to apply himself more (instead of flying off to Peru and etc.). But then Dick wouldn't be Dick!

I remember Dick invented a PRI estimation technique that Jim and I told him would add another decimal to the known speed of light. We all got a good laugh out of it.

I remember him sitting in meetings looking very pensive and then coming out with a suggestion in his inimitable way.

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Libby Whaley

He'd push it to the limit, hiking up the trail,
That's Iron Man Dick in search of his grail.
The peak afforded an exceptional view,
A rock-strewn ridge climbed by few.
But Dick was there, whether blue skies or fog,
And when all alone he would take off and jog.
So with a gusto for life, and an admirable will,
He climbed the mountain, and the time would stand still.

Whenever I joined him, he'd slow down his pace,
Never complaining, such integrity and grace.
He'd load up his pack with rocks, water, or sand,
That's Iron Man Dick, what a hellova man.
We'd walk and talk about what came to our minds
Amazing me with his intellectual finds.
Sometimes we'd venture to peaks far and wide,
Sometimes we'd paddle with the outgoing tide.
Whatever he did he gave his all-around best.
That Iron Man Dick was seldom one to rest.

Then as time would have it, time would not stand still,
And slowly but surely he couldn't make it up the hill.
Yet in his dreams he's run, and in his dreams he'd climb,
And the views in his memory were incredibly sublime.
And as time would have it, Dick was stolen away.
And as he took the big free fall, there was no belay.
He'd lived life with a zest for adventure and thrills,
Always running and climbing and hiking the hills.
And so he's moved on, took a walk o'er the bridge.
Now, whenever I look upon that rock-strewn ridge
I think of Iron Man Dick, what a hellova guy,
And I remember how hard it was to say goodbye.
Yet in my dreams we walk, and in my dreams we climb,
And we talk about plans for our next peak in time.

By Libby Whaley

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By Connie:

Dick my friend
my buddy my pal
What will I do
now that you are gone

What will I do on Mon/Fri
Who can I talk to 
on top of Cathedral
Where will I hike

How can I climb
without my partner
all eager and quick
When Dick my good
bright companion is gone

(apologies to May Swenson)

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O young Lochinvar is come out of the west,
Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
And save his good broadsword he weapons had none,
He rode all unarm'd, and he rode all alone.
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.
He staid not for brake, and he stopp'd not for stone,
He swam the Eske river where ford there was none;
But ere he alighted at Netherby gate,
The bride had consented, the gallant came late:
For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war,
Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar.

So boldly he enter'd the Netherby Hall,
Among bride's-men, and kinsmen, and brothers and all: 
Then spoke the bride's father, his hand on his sword, 
(For the poor craven bridegroom said never a word,) 
"O come ye in peace here, or come ye in war,
Or to dance at our bridal, young Lord Lochinvar?"

"I long woo'd your daughter, my suit you denied; -- 
Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide -- 
And now I am come, with this lost love of mine,
To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine.
There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,
That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar."

The bride kiss'd the goblet: the knight took it up,
He quaff'd off the wine, and he threw down the cup.
She look'd down to blush, and she look'd up to sigh,
With a smile on her lips and a tear in her eye.
He took her soft hand, ere her mother could bar, -- 
"Now tread we a measure!" said young Lochinvar.

So stately his form, and so lovely her face,
That never a hall such a gailiard did grace;
While her mother did fret, and her father did fume
And the bridegroom stood dangling his bonnet and plume;
And the bride-maidens whisper'd, "'twere better by far
To have match'd our fair cousin with young Lochinvar."

One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear,
When they reach'd the hall-door, and the charger stood near;
So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung,
So light to the saddle before her he sprung!
"She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur;
They'll have fleet steeds that follow," quoth young Lochinvar.

There was mounting 'mong Graemes of the Netherby clan;
Forsters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they ran:
There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lee,
But the lost bride of Netherby ne'er did they see.
So daring in love, and so dauntless in war,
Have ye e'er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar?
By Sir Walter Scott (1808)

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I hope they never get a rope on you, weather.
I hope they never put a bit in your mouth.
I hope they never pack your snorts
into an engine or make you wear wheels.

I hope the astronauts will always have to wait
till you get off the prairie
because your kick is lethal,
your temper worse than the megaton.

I hope your harsh mane will grow forever
and blow where it will,
that your slick hide will always shiver
and flick down your bright sweat.

Reteach us terror, weather
with your teeth on our ships,
your hoofs on our houses,
your tail swatting our planes down like flies.

Before they make a grenade of our planet
I hope you'll come like a comet,
oh mustang--fire-eyes, upreared belly--
bust the corral and stomp us to death.

From "Nature Poems Old and New," by May Swenson. Published by Macmillan.

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Body my house
my horse my hound
what will I do
when you are fallen

Where will I sleep
How will I ride
What will I hunt

Where can I go
without my mount
all eager and quick
How will I know
in thicket ahead
is danger or treasure
when Body my good
bright dog is dead

How will it be
to lie in the sky
without roof or door
and wind for an eye

With cloud for shift
how will I hide?

From "Nature Poems Old and New," by May Swenson. Published by Macmillan.

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The Wayfarer

The Wayfarer,
Perceiving the pathway to truth,
Was struck with astonishment.
It was thickly grown with weeds.
"Ha," he said,
"I see that no one has passed here
In a long time."
Later he saw each weed
Was a singular knife.
"Well," he mumbled at last,
"Doubtless there are other roads."

From "The Collected Poems of Stephen Crane". Published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

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In The Desert

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said: "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter-bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."

From "Black Riders and Other Lines". by Stephen Crane (1895).

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