Frederick Rickerich Jr., 97, had been an engineer

Frederick Rickerich Jr., 97, died July 8 at his New Milford home. He was the widower of Doris Mae (Buckman) Rickerich, to whom he was married for 70 years.

He was born Oct. 21, 1915, in Jersey City, N.J., the son of Theresa H. (Farrenkopf) and Frederick Rickerich.

He spent his childhood in Jersey City, where his love of the outdoors was shaped by family vacations along the Hudson River, the Berkshires and the Adirondacks. As a boy, he was active in the Boy Scouts, and attained the rank of Eagle Scout.

He graduated in 1937 from the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., with a degree in industrial engineering. He was a star center on the Stevens basketball team, active in campus organizations, and a dean's list engineering student.

He met his wife, Doris, who died in February of this year, at a regional church youth leadership conference in 1940. It was love at first sight. They shared their 70 years of marriage in Allendale, N.J., Pittsburgh, Weston and eventually, New Milford.

His career took flight at Alcoa, where he was plant manager at the Edgewater, N.J., facility, when the company was tasked with making precision centrifuge components during the development of the first atomic bomb. His 30-year career with Alcoa took him to New Kensington, Pa., where he managed the fabrication and manufacturing facility there.

Seeking new challenges and opportunity, he shifted industries and capped his career with more than 20 years as vice president, and after retirement, board member, of Norwalk Powdered Metals, a manufacturer of close-tolerance pressed and sintered metal components for the automotive and defense industries.

Known as an exceptional engineer and manager, he was heralded for his corporate team building, whether it was by competing on the tennis team, writing and starring in humorous skits, or developing enduring relationships with his coworkers at all levels.

He participated in ecumenical and civic organizations, and was dedicated to giving back to the community through church, Scouting, civic organizations, and historical and environmental preservation groups.

But, above all, he was about family. He was known to be a loving, caring, supportive and fun husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather and great-grandfather.

He is survived by three daughters, Susan Sphar, and her husband, Holly, of Pittsburgh; Nancy Clark, of Woodbury; Karen, of New Milford and New York; a son, Steven, and his wife, Dana, of York, Maine; eight grandchildren, Lauren, Kate, Andrew and Jeremy Sphar; Ashley Clark Cirullo and Noah, Sam and Lucy Rickerich; and two great-grandchildren, Frederick Bagby Sphar and Michael Vaughn Cirullo.

Plans for a memorial service will be announced by the family at a later date.

The Lillis Funeral Home in New Milford was in charge of arrangements.

Memorials may be made to one's local Audubon Society; to the Cancer Research Institute, One Exchange Plaza, 55 Broadway, Suite 1802, New York NY 10006; or to the New Milford Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice, 68 Park Lane, New Milford CT 06776.