Richard Allan Spear, of Farmingdale, died on Dec 29, 2016, at age 70.
Beloved father of Alex Spear of Brooklyn and Jesse Spear, of Bayville. Loving son of Margaret Spear of Canton, MA, and the late Allan Spear. Dearest brother of Cathy Spear, of Newton, MA. Dearest uncle of Julie Geer of Los Angeles, CA, and Andrew and Emily Geer of Needham, MA. Beloved best friend of Cody, the yellow Lab.
Rich was born in Baltimore, MD, lived in Portland, ME, and Lexington, MA. He graduated from Franklin and Marshall College with a BS in economics and was a member of the golf team there. He then attended University of Massachusetts associate program in Turf Management so he could pursue his passion, golf course management. He began his career as Assistant Superintendent at Plandome Country Club, Plandome. He briefly left Plandome to be an assistant professional at North Hills Country Club, but then returned to Plandome in 1974 in the role of Superintendent, which he held for 12 years. In 1986, he became Superintendent at Piping Rock Club in Locust Valley, where he remained for 28 years until his retirement in 2013. In that role, and in the wider Metro NY golf community, he was known for raising the standards of golf course superintendents. He was widely known for his mentorship of many young professionals who were to become the next generation of superintendents in the metro New York area. His giving of his time and professional expertise to those he mentored was legendary.
Rich worked with David Fay and Dave Catalano on assessing Bethpage as a potential US Open venue and was consulted on what was needed to prepare the course. He was instrumental in the selection of Craig Currier as the Bethpage golf course superintendent. In his long career, Rich became one of the most respected superintendents in the country.
A fine golfer himself, Rich was runner-up in the 1992 Long Island Amateur Championship at the Huntington Crescent Club. He was a frequent speaker and wrote numerous articles on golf course maintenance. He was passionate about the impact of green speeds on courses in terms of economics, playability and pace of play, and he made a major presentation on this topic to club leaders and superintendents at an MGA Green Chairmen Educational Series. Rich won the 2010 Long Island Golf Association Distinguished Service Award, the only superintendent to have done so. He was also widely admired for his supportive and caring relationships with his many grounds crew members, who viewed him as family.
In addition to golf, his many interests in life included history, geography, politics, reading, drawing, sailing, and athletics. Most recently, Rich, a long-time admirer of nature who worked to make golf courses more ‘wildlife friendly’, donated his time in his retirement to Volunteers for Wildlife, caring for rescued animals. Richard was a Wildlife Transport Volunteer who transported injured animals to veterinarians weekly.
Rich’s biggest joy, however, was spending time with his two children, Alex and Jesse. He adored them and was so proud of their successes.
Rich was widely known for his generous nature, his warm and charming wit, his wonderful one-liners, and for being able to make almost anyone laugh. He had so many friends and will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him. A memorial service was held in his memory on Jan. 2. Donations can be made to Volunteers for Wildlife at www.volunteersforwildlife.org.