Col. Richard J. Beland (USAF Ret.), age 82, was granted freedom from Parkinson’s Disease on May 10, 2019. In the end, he was surrounded with love from his family and caregivers.
Dick was born April 29, 1937 to the late Eddie and Ida Beland, in Claremont, NH. He graduated from Stevens High School where he was an excellent student and one of the most gifted athletes in the history of the school. He matriculated to Brown University and achieved that same success. Dick earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations, was a member of Delta Upsilon Fraternity and an inductee into the Brown Key.
After graduating college, he made two big commitments – one to a nurse from Yale–New Haven, Sonja, and one to the USAF. He started as a navigator and then was selected for pilot training. He spent 10 years training students to fly, briefly interrupted by a tour in Vietnam, where he flew 290 combat missions.
The next four years, he had the privilege of serving as an Advance Agent for Support and Security for Air Force One, serving under Presidents Carter and Reagan.
His dream assignment was a four-year tour to Germany. He was a member of the NATO Flight Safety Group, which afforded him the opportunity to attend conferences in Europe hosted by each nation.
After 30 great years in the Air Force, Dick retired in 1989. Dick and Sonja spent most summers at their cottage in Peacham Pond, VT, and continuing their passion of travel to destinations around the world.
Following his Air Force career, Dick lived a life of service. With his faith as his cornerstone, he served as a Lector and Usher at Langley Chapel. He found some of his greatest joy as an Exchange Club Member in Poquoson. He walked many hundreds of miles as a member of the Peninsula Pathfinder Volksmarch Club. He was on the Board of Zoning Appeals in Poquoson for 18 years, with eight of them as Chairman.
Left to cherish his memory are his loving wife of 60 years, Sonja; his two sons, Jeff and Scott & his wife Kim; his grandson, Zachary; his sister Janyce Nugent & husband Dean and their son Sean; his niece, Debbie and nephew, Rick & wife Cindy; and Uncle Buster. And, many wonderful friendships developed over his blessed life.
The family is very grateful for all the loving hands that cared for him at Dominion Village of Poquoson.
A funeral mass was held on Saturday, May 18, at Langley AFB Chapel, Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to SEVA GRREAT, www.adoptagolden.com (his love of animals), or Poquoson Volunteer Rescue Squad. Online condolences to claytorrollins.com.
Rest in peace, my dearest husband, amazing father, beloved brother and friend. “Off you go into the Wild Blue Yonder.” You have been cleared for take-off.
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