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Lost to COVID-19: Veteran and former NASA employee Richard Fry was 'just a regular guy'
Akron Beacon Journal - 12/28/2020
He was a lover of classic movies who shared his knowledge with four grandchildren who cared for him while they worked at Laurel Lake during the last few years of his life.
But there was something he wouldn't talk about: The classified projects he collaborated on while working for NASA.
Richard B. Fry, Sr., 88, of Hudson, died Nov. 15, from COVID-19.
His death came 10 days after family was told of his positive test, said daughter-in-law Mary Fry.
More: Read profiles of others we've lost to COVID-19
Fry spent his career as an aircraft mechanic, starting with the Air Force during during the Korean Conflict at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. He left active duty in 1955, after having earned a Defense Service Medal, a Good Conduct Medal and an honorable discharge.
He then had a 30-year career with NASA at the NASA-Glenn Research Center by Cleveland-Hopkins Airport.
As an aircraft mechanic, he was part of a team that tested airframes in the wind tunnel there, said Mary Fry, who noted he wouldn't discuss his work.
"I've heard all the stories about how he would just smile, because he couldn't talk about what exactly he was doing," she said. "He worked on stuff he couldn't talk about."
He was an only child. Fry was married to his wife, also named Mary, for nearly 50 years before she died in 2005.
His daughter-in-law said he was well cared for, as her four children all worked at Laurel Lake and had the opportunity to grow closer to him there.
"He had an encyclopedic memory of all the old movies – he just loved movies. My husband grew up loving movies," she said.
She said his grandchildren who worked at Laurel Lake would watch old movies with him.
Richard and his wife raised their family in Medina, where he was active in the community. He grew a beard in 1976 at age 44 during the Medina Bicentennial and kept it for the rest of his life – another 44 years.
"He was everybody's buddy," she said. "He was just a regular guy."
He was the father of six, grandfather of 15, and great-grandfather to 13 children.
At Laurel Lake Retirement Community, "they treated him like a king," the family said. He was buried with military honors at All Saints Cemetery in Northfield Center.
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This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Lost to COVID-19: Veteran and former NASA employee Richard Fry was 'just a regular guy'
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