Richard John (Dick) Wooley, 91, a lover of life, his beloved wife, his cherished family and friends, plus a long succession of doted-on dogs, died Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014.
His life began on Nov. 17, 1922, in Elsie, Mich., where his father owned the town store, “Wooley's Hardware.” He and his childhood buddies had many an adventure in the local environs, which we cannot recount without glasses of wine to fuel them, but which his daughters called “Daddy Stories.” He graduated in Chemical Engineering from Michigan State University (it made him very proud to see them win the Rose Bowl championship last month).
He met Esther, his dear wife of 68 years, at United Chromium Inc. of Detroit, and was transferred to Los Angeles, Calif., where they had their first home and raised two daughters. He vastly improved every business he worked for, including his own, Spence Electroplating Co. He was president of the National Electroplater’s Association and the Power Squadron, a boating enthusiasts’ club. Weekends and summers were filled with days at the beach and deep-sea fishing with family and friends.
Dick and Esther moved to Sun Valley in the 80s, and his Hemingway period began. There they created a beautiful home and cultivated great friendships which have lasted decades and weathered many a crazy fishing and hunting trip. Dick loved to shoot with the guys at the Gun Club, and pursue pheasants in the wilds with his German shorthairs. Annual trips to the Green River were huge highlights. Marlin fishing expeditions to New Zealand with his godson were especially treasured events. The years were punctuated with trips to Europe, Mexico and Hawaii and to visit family in the North and Southwest.
Sundays you’d find him at St. Thomas, and Friday nights he held court at the Pioneer. When it came time, his caregivers taught him the patience we were never able to, and he learned the lesson with grace and humor. He will be remembered by all who met him, even briefly at Atkinsons’, for his larger than life presence, his gruff humor and acerbic wit, his wisdom, and his unmistakable moustache. His wild style of dress matched his wild personality and love of the wild. We will miss conversations over wine, scotch or margaritas more than we can ever say. One of his favorite sayings was: “Live life to the fullest and you’ll have no regrets.” So hop to it; as Dick used to admonish: “If you’ve been hooting with the owls, you can’t go soaring with the eagles.”
He is survived by his wife, Esther, of Hailey, Idaho; his daughter Cynthia and her husband Alan, who live in Albuquerque, N.M.; his daughter Susan and her husband Vernon, who reside in Tucson, Ariz.; and granddaughter Kylee, who is attending college in Scotland.
A service for him will be held at St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Sun Valley Road in Ketchum on Feb. 20 at 4 p.m. A reception will follow at the home of Tim Gardiner at 26 Deer Creek Road, near Hailey. In lieu of flowers, donations will be accepted in his honor at St. Thomas Episcopal Church or the Wood River Animal Shelter.