Richard Wickboldt, Brother of a Cadet Lost on the Marine Electric, Crosses the Bar

Posted: October 13, 2016 in Contemporary Commentary

“Crossing the Bar” by Tennyson

Richard Wickboldt, one brother among four who sailed in the American merchant marine, died recently  in Michigan. His brother,  George, 24, died on the Marine Electric. Another Wickboldt son, Steven, was killed in 1982 in an explosion aboard the ship Golden Dolphin.
After George’s death, his parents, having lost two sons to the sea and having two sons still at sea,  asked Richard to leave the merchant marine, which he did, but as noted below answered an emergency call from SUNY in 2014 to man a training cruise.

My sincere sympathies to the Wickboldt family.

No obituary information is yet available, but here is Bill Halloran’s remembrance.

This from Bill Halloran
Class of 1982,
SUNY MARITIME

I have sad news to pass along. I received correspondence from the Wickboldt family that Richard Wickboldt, SUNY Maritime class of 1976, had suddenly passed away last weekend. Rich lived in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife and daughter. The family was in the process of planning for a service to be conducted in Ann Arbor MI this weekend. The family indicated that they will eventually arrange for another service in New York sometime in the future and they will let me know the details at that time. That is all I have to report at this time.

I recently went out to dinner with Richard, the night before his 40th class of 1976 reunion, on Thursday September 29th. All was well, he was busy with work, planning for his daughter’s college next year, and caring for his parents in NH with frequent visits.

My Memories of Richard Wickboldt
My name is William J. Halloran Jr.. I was George Wickboldt’s classmate at SUNY Maritime College from 1978-1982. I first met Richard Wickboldt way back in 1979 during our MUG SUNY Maritime College training cruise when he was the “much feared” Watch Engineer. I distinctly remember being in the lower engine room on watch with George.  Both of us were in our boiler coveralls, drenched in sweat, face to face, wavering from the intense heat and the roll of the ship. I asked George if the rumor was true……was “that guy”…. the Watch Engineer his brother?? George just stood there with a sort of a half smile & half grin and said “yeah”. For some reason, I then felt a bit safer minus the fear but still somewhat “on guard”. Richard had the reputation of being “the Sgt. Stryker type” of the engine room (as played by John Wayne – Sands of Iwo Jima). Richard was flunking some of the upper class men for their watch grades on cruise. Watch Engineer Wickboldt news stories among the cadets would spread like wild fire daily on the ship.

After a very long period of time, we crossed paths again, as shipmates for three months during the SUNY Maritime College Summer training cruise in 2014. On a very short notice (few days till departure) we both answered an emergency call from the school to fill MT slots on the ships billet. We reunited in the officers mess upon reporting on board for duty. We worked together training the cadets- Richard was an Engineering Training Instructor & I was the Watch Engineer. We were task masters of the engineering cadets keeping in step with the traditions of the school as we had known them to be. That was our reference point, plain & simple. The irony was that the modern day SUNY Maritime was not what it was back in our day, so we were in shock just as much as the cadets were from us. There were many twists and turns making the cruise very interesting, challenging and rewarding for the both of us. We both got along well like brothers who never were separated. Our minds thought alike in many aspects. Connected without the cord. For jokes, laughs, etc…everything. Rich’s mind was as sharp as ever pertaining to all things engine room. We shared together many sea stories, life experiences, opinions, we learned from each other……and from the cadets. We also met many different alumni, officers and ships staff whom added to the great training endeavor.

Rich enjoyed very much being out to sea again. It was definitely his calling. That life style fit him well…..and he had missed it so much. His sea going career (1976-1983) occurred at the end of a great era for shipping-out in a much different world from the present day.

I’m glad I answered the telephone on the day I got the call from Conrad Youngren and the push from my wife “to go” on the 2014 training cruise. Initially I had replied no. Since the cruise; we had our lil’ reunions, kept in touch on the phone and exchanged email. We texted often.

In retrospect, the greatest gift for me is – I now know what the experience would have been like to have had an older brother by being Rich Wickboldt’s shipmate for the last two and a half years. And I will miss him as such.

See pages 5 & 7
http://www.fsmaa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/2014_Mariner_SUMMER_sm_web.pdf

Comments
  1. MICHAEL CARR says:

    Robert,

    I truly enjoy and appreciate reading your well worded, articulate, and cerebral posts. Thank you for providing good journalism.

    V/r

    CW4 Michael W. Carr US Army Watercraft Master (Ret) muddiver1977@gmail.com Cell: 772-888-5207

    >

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  2. To Robert and all who read this:

    I am Richard’s sister Karen. Thank you for your kind and comforting thoughts of sympathy.As with all things unplanned and unexpected in life, the family is still in reeling from Richy’s untimely death. He was given a beautiful ceremony in Ann Arbor and we hope to have a ceremony on the east coast where we can place some of Richard’s ashes into the sea he loved so much. For those interested, below is the eulogy I read at his ceremony. We hope to find a way to honor Richard and a life well lived in the near future.

    Richard Wickboldt was born to Kathrina and Richard Wickboldt Sr. on March 27, 1954 with a twinkle in his eye that never left him. Richard did not know it at the time, but he was to become the oldest child of six children. He was to become the big brother, the protector, the consoler and the champion of causes for his siblings Stephen, George, Janet, Paul and myself. And little did Kathrina and Richard Sr. know that one day he would become their strength, their advocate and one of the most devoted sons a parent could have.

    Thus began his journey in life. As with many journeys, Richard would have hills to climb and bumps to navigate along the road. He would also, however, encounter many paths to enjoy, embrace life to the fullest and find the happiness he so deserved.

    From his long distance bicycle rides with his brothers, to fishing down on the local pond with his buddies the family never knew what to expect next. Richard was not given a middle name at birth, but it easily could have been “Shenanigans.” Richard was known about town for his antics. Richard’s High School Principal, Mr. Noyes, pronounced as Mr. NO YES by Richard and his best buddy, Reason being that if Mr. Noyes said NO they believed it meant YES! I distinctly remember seeing Richard and one of his friends running down the hall with Mr. Noyes in hot pursuit – most likely for one of their innocuous pranks that kept the school a lot more interesting for the rest of us.

    On March 6, 1982 Richard’s faith in life was tested when our brother Stephen, a merchant marine, was killed due to an explosion aboard the SS Golden Dolphin. It was at this time, Richard was called upon to be the older brother and loving son to help the family understand how something so tragic could happen. His fortitude and strength helped our family to heal. But no one could predict that this role would be tested even further when our brother George, a maritime cadet, was killed on February 12, 1983 aboard the SS Marine Electric in one of the most tragic and significant maritime disasters in modern history.

    After these two devastating tragedies, the average person would have given up on life and no longer recognize the goodness that life has to offer. But not Richard. He endured and chose the path of continued love and kindness to all around him. And that was a good thing, because that path led him to Shari. I remember well the day the two of them met. It was Mother’s day. He was in NY and we were taking our Mother out to eat. Shari and Richard would soon find themselves as lifelong partners and soon thereafter came Richard’s happiest moment in life, the birth of his daughter Chiarra to whom he passed on the “twinkle” in his eyes. Now more than ever he had a reason to be happy. His life was fulfilled. Richard walked down the next path of life and chose to create a wonderful magical life here in Ann Arbor with his wife Shari and daughter Chiarra.

    In the words of Richard’s Naval senior officers: and I quote “His superior performance in this endeavor produced a top-notch finished product. His military appearance and bearing are of the highest caliber. Wickboldt has an excellent command of the English language. He speaks in a clear concise manner and writes exceptionally well and has demonstrated the desire and ability to assume positions of additional responsibility. He is most strongly recommended for promotion and retention in the naval service.”

    In the words of our father Richard Wickboldt Senior, “Richard was the best sailor of them all.”
    We will miss you Commander Wickboldt. Love you Richy.

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    • Robert Frump says:

      Beautiful remembrance. (I also was the high school prankster and that gave me a broad smile). Thank you for sharing. (And sorry I am late to reply ; I’ve been down with some health problems.).
      Please accept and send on to the family my best wishes and respect.

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      • No worries, all good things take time 🙂 Thank you for sharing my story. Hope your health problems are a thing of the past and all goes well moving forward. I will pass along your message to the rest of the family and please know your kind words touched my heart.

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  3. rfrump@aol.com says:

    bob have lost your email addy so hope this gets to you…is everything ok? haven’t seen a post in days….was wondering how suze was doing. and if she was still getting treatments…take care know how long the process can be…the 13 weeks I had radiation was the pits…laying on a unpadded table even for 15 minutes was agony….the chemo wasn’t as bad..at least was sitting in pretty comfortable chair, tv and a view of the old golf course pond they had left when the hospital was built… be safe…and know you can always email me and swear, cry, or roar…oops! that’s trump running….gentle hugs….

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