Richard T. Todd

December 3, 1942 - April 3, 2023

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Richard T. Todd,  who passed away on April 3, 2023.

Dick always liked to say he was lucky, but everyone who knew him knew that in reality it was his stellar intellect, quick wit, and hard work ethic that drove his success.  

He was born in Chicago, IL on Dec. 3,1942 to Jeanne and Harold Todd.  "Dickie" was the baby of the family, with two older brothers, Pete and Art, and an older sister, Jeanne.  When he was six months old his family moved to Washington, D.C. where Dick spent most of his childhood. After graduating high school in 1960, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force.  His four year tour of duty took him to the Philippines and Vietnam, finishing out his military service at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, OK.  

After the Air Force, he worked various jobs such as “making snow” at Chadds Peak Ski Resort and digging water wells in Pennsylvania.  He even tried boxing, but after several fights decided it was a ridiculous way to make money.  Proud that in all his fights he went the distance, he reminisced that during his last match all he could think was, “Eventually this guy’s gonna get tired of hitting me!”  After becoming eligible for the G.I. Bill, he enrolled at the University of Delaware where he pursued a degree in engineering.

To anyone who knew him, engineering as a career path is no surprise.  As a boy, he got his start taking apart things around the house like the family toaster, and interesting items from his brothers’ bedrooms.  He made his own radio at fourteen; in his twenties he helped a friend build a sailboat.  He was never so happy as when he was building, or trying to fix something.

While in college, Dick earned his pilot’s license with instrument rating, and at one point owned a Cessna 170.  These credentials served him well as his first job out of college was with a company that specialized in airplanes.  He wrote autopilot programs for them and also flew as a test pilot.  

Continuing in engineering, he worked on various projects: a nuclear power plant, a geothermal project, and in nuclear waste cleanup.  In fact, you can see one of the projects he helped build as you head west on I-80 from Salt Lake City, the 1,215 ft. Garfield Smelter Smoke Stack!

In the later part of his career, he concentrated in non-ferrous metals:  gold, silver, and copper, taking his skills (and family) overseas; working from sea level on Admiralty Island, St. Croix, and Sulawesi, to mining projects soaring at heights of 14,000 ft. in Irian Jaya and Cajamarca, Peru.  

He met his wife, Pamela, while working in Utah at Kennecott Copper Mine.  After a few months of dating, he was transferred to a gold mine in Alaska.  He sent Pamela tickets to visit and proposed to her in nearby Juneau.  

They were married on a Hornblower Tour Boat in the beautiful San Francisco Bay.  Their daughter, Audrey was born soon after and before her first birthday she had a passport to join her Dad on his next adventure, the Grasburg Gold and Copper Mine in Tembagapura, Indonesia.

The family set up homes in four different overseas locations, Audrey truly earning the moniker, “Third Culture Kid.” By the time Dick retired he was very tired of traveling, telling them he would never get on an airplane again!  However, several years later they did manage a vacation to Hawaii without having to sail or swim! 

Dick was a voracious reader, and was fluent in Mandarin Chinese.  He spent several years studying classical guitar, “Gymnopedie 1” being one of his favorite pieces to play.  He loved a wide range of music from Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto No. 3” to Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.”  Oh, and anything by Chet Atkins!  Then there were the more absurd songs he would randomly break out singing, like “My Boomerang Won’t Come Back” and “The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane.”  He also loved the brilliant satire of Tom Lehrer songs: “Who’s Next,” “Lobachevsky,” and “The Elements.”

Dick had a photographic memory, you wanted him on your team if you were playing Trivial Pursuits.  He also had a wicked sense of humor, like the time he convinced (a very young) Audrey that he had invented basketball!   He loved dining: lingering over a wonderful meal with family and good friends, ever the connoisseur of wine, beer, and good scotch.  

Dick leaves behind Pamela, his partner of 35 years, his daughter Audrey, his loving mother-in-law, Carol, and an extended family of brothers and sisters-in-law: Judy Paley, Claire Markovitz, Jeanette Thomas, Sonny and Rhonda Thomas, Rebecca Thomas & Artem Kakadiy, and many loving nieces and nephews.

Even in the end stages of the lung disease that took his life, he continued to look about for things to take apart and put back together.  If there is an afterlife, and it is in need of an engineer, it now has a good one!  

Come join us for a Celebration of Dick’s life on Saturday, July 01, 2023 from 6-8 pm at Starks Funeral Parlor, 3651 South 900 East, Millcreek, UT 84106.  

Guests are encouraged to use the parking and entrance on the north side of the building.  In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Wikipedia.