Former Sanibel Vice Mayor Richard Walsh passes
Richard (Dick) J. Walsh, 84, formerly of Chicago and recently of Sanibel and Fort Myers, and Bridgman, Mich., succumbed to a staph infection after vascular surgery on Jan. 16, 2011.
He leaves his wife Flo, and eight of their nine children: Kyra (John Kilbourne), Beth (Robyn Naramore), Kate, Ellen (Bruce Ackerman), John, Sarah (Pierre Klatt), Abra (Philippe Baup), Hannah, and his beloved grandchildren Ariana Ackerman and Gabrielle and Mathieu Baup. He also leaves his brother Gerald M. Walsh, and sister Grace (Roy) Ryberg, and his many loved nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Richard J. Walsh Sr. and Mae Utting Walsh, sisters Dolores Knutson and Pat Guentner (Jack Guentner) and his son, Richard J. Walsh Jr.
Dick graduated from Amundsen High school, De Paul University, and the University of Michigan Law School, Class of 1952. He served in World War II in the Army, marching through France, Germany and Belgium. He helped protect the Bridge at Remagen in Germany, then marched on to Berlin at the end of the Battle of the Bulge.
After Law School, Dick joined the Chicago law firm of Norville and Dent, which later became Walsh, Case, Coale and Brown. He practiced law passionately for 42 years, specializing in corporate and labor law.
One of his many lifelong interests was politics. He served as Democratic Precinct Captain in the 19th Ward of Chicago, President of the Board of the Catholic Adult Education Centers and President of the Board of the Catholic Interracial Council, holding these positions for 10 years in the ’60s and ’70s. He also served on the Board of the Powhatan Cooperative Association, the Weko Dunes Homeowners Association, and the Harvard St. George School in Chicago.
Dick was devoted to preserving the natural environment. As co-chair of Hope for the Dunes in Bridgman, Mich., he successfully lead the organization that was instrumental in preserving 247 acres of pristine sand dunes for posterity.
Dick co-chaired the grassroots organization “McSPOIL” on Sanibel, which successfully denied access to fast food restaurant chains on that barrier island which is so unique in preserving its natural environment. Dick enthusiastically served on Sanibel City Council with intelligence and honor for four and a half years. He served as both Vice Mayor and Councilor.
Dick loved his family, books and reading, libraries, sun and beaches, travel, talking on the phone, and his friends who were loyal and legion.
A memorial service will take place on Thursday, Jan. 20 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Mastique Club House at 12701 Mastique Beach Blvd. in Fort Myers (on John Morris Road near Summerlin Road). Another memorial is planned for Chicago, at a time as yet to be determined. The burial will be private.
Contributions may be made to the Sanibel Public Library or the Bridgman Public Library.