We saw our world and ourselves better through his lens
By SHERRY HALBROOK
PEF members were stunned to learn of the death of Richard Dillard, 67, June 17 following a brief illness. It was through his eyes and camera’s lens that many people gained their vision of PEF and its members. Working as a volunteer photographer for The Communicator, Dillard took many thousands of photos of PEF members and events over more than three decades.
His love of the union and its members shone through those shots.
Dillard was active in the union on many levels both before and after his retirement from the state Office of the Medicaid Inspector General in August 2013, where he was a management specialist working at 100 Church St.
In addition to his work for The Communicator, Dillard was president of the Black Caucus of PEF from 1985 to 1990, served on the PEF Executive Board from 2009 to 2012 and was a delegate to many PEF conventions. He was recently elected vice president of the NYC Chapter of PEF Retirees. He also was a member of the NYS Brotherhood Committee.
Dillard took a strong interest in his community and served on the Community School Board 11 in the Bronx as well as president of the PTA at the school his daughters attended. He was also an avid New York Mets fan.
Among Dillard’s many old friends who quietly attended his memorial service in the Bronx June 23, was NYS Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who represents the Bronx in the state Legislature.
PEF President Wayne Spence and PEF NYC Retirees Chapter President Pat Baker both presented tributes to Dillard at the service.
His many friends and family shared personal remembrances of Dillard’s vibrant personality and energetic enjoyment of life that had focused on his wife, Jacqueline, daughters Erica and Jessica, son-in-law Marcus, granddaughter Hayden and sister Gale, as well as his cousins and others. His family members called him “Chuck.”
Retired PEF Region 11 Coordinator Jemma Marie-Hanson commented on the help Dillard gave her “from the first day I started as the regional coordinator. He gave of himself to share our experiences in the region through his pictures. I will always miss the laughter we always had when he was around and the time he shared with us over the years.”
Retired Region 1 Coordinator Joyce Degenhardt said, “Richard always made me feel welcome, no matter where my PEF travels took me.”
Baker said she loved to join the Dillards on visits to Atlantic City. Spence recalled his memory of meeting Dillard for the first time and watching his competitive spirit playing cards. Others recalled Dillard’s avid collecting of model trains and his morning ritual of enjoying a caramel Frappuccino at a nearby Starbucks while he read the paper.
“I asked Richard, ‘What do you with all of your time now that you are retired,’” PEF staff member Alan Schulkin recalled. “He said, ‘I just play with Hayden.’”
Whatever Dillard did, he brought a unique light and zest to it that enriched the experience for everyone.