In Memoriam: Richard Vance Mead (1918-2014)


Richard Vance Mead died in the early hours of December 13, 2014, in La Jolla, Calif.  Dick joined Scripps Institution of Oceanography in late 1948 and served as a marine technician until 1982 in the Marine Life Research Program (later the MLR Group), under MLR directors Roger Revelle, John Isaacs, and Joseph Reid. Dick sailed on several UC and NOAA vessels, including Crest, Baird, Scofield, Black Douglas, E. W. Scripps, E. B. Scripps, Hugh Smith, Oconostota, Agassiz, Jordan, Washington, Argo, Horizon, New Horizon, and Melville.

Dick was a native of Evanston, Ill., born in 1918, graduate of Princeton summa cum laude, and U.S. Navy lieutenant during World War II, serving on a landing craft at Normandy on D-Day. He served as a marine technician at Scripps Oceanography and lead marine technician in the Data Collection and Processing Group, MLRG.

Dick and his wife, Pat, have two children, Vanessa and Susan. Dick’s future son-in-law, William (Bill) Flerx, then of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA, spent many days at sea together with Dick on research cruises. Nine years passed by before he met Dick’s daughter Vanessa, at sea on a Scripps cruise. Vanessa and Bill were married a year later and a new relationship began that has lasted over 29 years. They live in Seattle, Wash., and have two daughters.

Dick loved camping and never passed up an opportunity to sleep under the stars and sit by a campfire. We’ll miss the times we sat by his fireplace and traded limericks. He could not pass up a round of the card game Euchre while the messenger was tripping a Nansen bottle cast. A Nansen bottle was a water and temperature collecting device, deployed in a series down a cable from the deck of the ship. It actuated by being “tripped” by a brass messenger that clipped onto the cable, tripping one, releasing messenger two, tripping two, actuating messenger three, etc.  A typical 600-meter cast took about 3-4 minutes to complete, the same time it took to play one hand of Euchre. Once all tripped, the thermometers on the bottles had to “soak” for 4 minutes, allowing for another hand of Euchre.

Dick was a very good grandfather and had a large hand in raising his two granddaughters, Lindsay and Kelsey.  Dick’s widow, Pat, continues to live in their La Jolla home.

We miss you, Dick.

Prepared by William Flerx and George Hemingway

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