Richard “Dick” Sawyer died May 19 at Nortern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center. Dickie was born on leap year day in Milbridge in 1940 to Phil and Madeline Stanley Sawyer. After graduating from Milbridge High School in 1958, Dick, with the guiding hand of his mother to lead him, enlisted in the Air Force in 1959 and stayed in until 1984. He married Karen ‘Kay’ Burton of Blue Hill in 1963. His son Rick was born in 1964.
In 1967, he served in Vietnam. He was awarded the Purple Heart from wounds received in action on Feb. 18, 1968, in Tan Son Nyguyen AB, RVN, during the Tet offensive. A doctor told him if he had been inhaling instead of exhaling, the shrapnel would have punctured his lung. Dick had nine lives and went on to have more adventures.
After Vietnam, he returned home first to recuperate at Chelsea Naval Hospital and on to Brooklin to finally meet his 6-month-old son Tim. He was greeted with a homecoming party that many remember to this day. By the photos and the stories, it is a wonder any of them made it out alive.
One of his next assignments was a three-year term in Alaska. He bought a truck with a camper on back and drove from Maine to Alaska with Kay and their two sons. The trip took three weeks and they drove the last 1,500 miles on the Al-Can trail when it was still a dirt road. This trip was the first of many cross- country trips they made.
He and his family enjoyed Alaska. He traded his truck and camper for a Dodge Charger when he got there. Dick had a passion for cars and trucks. He had a VW bus in 1977 in Germany and took his family to the Black Forest camping and saw much of Western Europe. Luckily, he and Kay enjoyed traveling. He was assigned to North Carolina, Idaho, Germany and Florida. He had a solo tour of duty for six months in Shemya, Alaska, an Air Force radar station situated on a tiny island near the end of the Aleutian island chain, 1,200 miles from the mainland, and while there survived a large earthquake.
He moved back home to Milbridge in 1997 and settled down to a slower pace of life. He enjoyed his cats and visiting his family in Blue Hill, his breakfast club on Wednesdays with his neighbors, and his close friendships with the many who will miss him greatly. He was quick with a smile, had a great sense of humor, and liked just about everyone he met. He was a big tipper and had a big heart.
He was predeceased by his wife Kay and son Tim. He is survived by his brother Peter Sawyer of Milbridge; his son Rick Sawyer and wife Penny of Blue Hill; his grandsons, Tim, Ethan and Caleb Sawyer, and William Ricker and Jed Sawyer; and his loving nieces, Cathy, Debi, Janet and Nikki.
There will be a private graveside service. In lieu of flowers, please send a donation to the Milbridge Historical Society or the VFW in Harrington.