TBDBITL Alumni Club

The Best Damn Band In The Land - The Ohio State University Marching Band Alumni

Richard John “Dick” Speir

July 8, 1926 - February 19, 2022

Richard J. Speir, 95, passed away peacefully at Stein Hospice Care Center, Sandusky on Saturday, February 19, 2022.

Richard was born in Sandusky, Ohio to Chester and Florence (Schmidt) Speir on July 8, 1926 and was a lifelong area resident. He was a 1944 graduate of Sandusky High School and joined his classmates for regular reunions for many years. He met his beloved wife Mary Zuelzke in 7th grade playing in the junior high orchestra. They were married in 1948 and were happily married for more than 66 years prior to her passing in 2015.

He enlisted in the U.S. Navy after graduation and was accepted to the Naval School of Music in Washington D.C. and was then stationed in the South Pacific. He was a proud Navy veteran and participated in the Honor Flight in 2013. After World War II ended, he attended The Ohio State University graduating in 1950. A highlight of his OSU years was playing the trombone in the marching band (TBDBITL) and performing at the Rose Bowl. He returned to Columbus every fall until age 85 to march with the alumni band and was a founding member of the Erie County alumni band. He also earned a Master’s Degree from Case Western Reserve University in 1959.

Richard began his teaching career in 1950 and was recognized for 68 years of service as a teacher and administrator in the Sandusky City Schools. Students in his math and science classes as well as musicians in the marching and dance bands remember him as a favorite teacher who shared his enthusiasm for learning. In 1967 he was named director of the Supplementary Education Center and the Sidney Frohman Planetarium. He worked full time until 1987 and then operated the planetarium on a part time basis until recent years offering educational programs for area students and the community. He was elected an honorary fellow of the Great Lakes Planetarium Association in 1986. Dick and Mary were world travelers visiting Europe several times and cruising around South America when in their 80’s. They also traveled with the OSU Alumni Band to Alaska, Hawaii, Ireland, and Japan. Family vacation favorites included scenic road trips in the western United States and a summer in San Diego where Dick studied at a summer institute.

Music was a vital part of their lives from attending concerts to performing in and directing a variety of bands. You could find Dick playing his trombone in the Gary Spayd Combo, the Erie County OSU Alumni Band, North Coast Concert and Big Bands, Vacationland Band, Dana Dorsey Band, and Firelands Symphony Orchestra. In these pursuits Dick and Mary made lifelong friendships that enriched their lives.

Dick joined Mary in membership in St. Stephen United Church of Christ and both were active and much loved members of the congregation. A highlight of Dick’s long tenure as choir director was a trip to perform in many German cities and to participate in an international choir festival in Salzburg, Austria. Dick also served as Council President, played bass guitar in the Praise Band, and was a tireless volunteer for the church.

Dick held many part time jobs through the years including the Post Office and Pelee Island ferry. He served as a driver for Serving Our Seniors and was a recipient of the Men and Women of Excellence Award in 2017. He was an active member of the Senior Men’s Fellowship and enjoyed creating power point presentations to entertain the group. He was a longtime member of the Perseverance Masonic Lodge #329, F. & A. M.. Other hobbies and pastimes were creating beautiful landscapes and gardens at his home, sailing around Sandusky Bay with the first mate Mary on the “Little Dipper” and enjoying the company of their basset hounds.

Dick will be remembered as a gentleman with a generous spirit who was a devoted son, brother, husband, father, and grandfather. When his children or grandchildren purchased a new home, he was right there with his painting supplies and tools. His grandchildren loved their funny Grandpa with the “squeaky kisses”. He was the family photographer and enjoyed gathering the family for evening slide shows. He was an excellent leader, a lifelong learner, and a man of many talents who was respected by his colleagues and loved by his many friends.

Richard is survived by his daughters, Linda (Robert) Carino, Norwalk and Barbara Speir, Sandusky, his son Tom Speir, Sandusky and grandchildren, Dana (Josh) Jones, Julie (Frank) Sirse, Christa (Brent) Bronner, Kyle Speir, Deanna (Tad) England, and Rachel Speir and eight great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister Marilyn (Paul) Rempes and a niece and nephews.

Friends may call on Thursday, February 24, 2022 from 4 to 7 PM in Toft Funeral Home & Crematory, 2001 Columbus Avenue, Sandusky. A memorial service will be held at St Stephen United Church of Christ, 905 East Perkins Avenue at 11 AM on Friday, February 25, 2022 with Pastor Jerald Fenske officiating. Inurnment will follow in the church columbarium.

Memorial contributions may be made to the OSU Alumni Club of Erie County, PO Box 245, Sandusky, Ohio 44870 (Memo Erie County OSU Alumni Band), St. Stephen United Church of Christ, 905 E. Perkins Ave, Sandusky, Ohio 44870, or Stein Hospice Services, 1200 Sycamore Line, Sandusky, Ohio 44870. Condolences may be made to the family by visiting toftfuneralhome.com.

Dick was a member of the marching band from 1947 through 1949. He played Trombone in R-Row.