Richard D. Hershcopf, 92, a Ft. Collins resident for 46 years, passed away at home on Feb. 1, following a stroke in November. Dick lived his life fully and made his mark on the world. When asked how he wanted to be remembered after his death, Dick said, “that I was always interested in the good of the country and of mankind, and tried to help bring about a better world through political work for peace, civil liberties, the preservation of the environment, and social and economic justice for all people.”
Dick was born April 9, 1922, in New York City and grew up in a close-knit Jewish family, the son of Irving and Shirley Hershcopf, with his younger sister Dorothy, whom he adored. He enjoyed school, played stickball in the street with friends, rooted for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and loved listening to music and engaging in lively conversations. Dick was a proud product of Brooklyn public schools; his quick mind and incredible memory enabled him to graduate from Boys High School at age 16.
Continuing his education at Brooklyn College, Dick majored in history and planned to become a teacher. In November 1942, he was one semester shy of graduating when he was drafted. Dick was honorably discharged in 1946; because of his service, the college granted him the missing credits and dated his Bachelor’s degree June 1943. Dick was proud to have served in the Allies’ fight against fascism and the Nazis.
After the war, Dick enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to pursue an advanced degree. He earned his Master’s in history in 1949, and a second Master’s in library science in 1959. At the university Dick met the love of his life, Marian, who was also a graduate student and a Holocaust escapee from Vienna. He knew from early on that she was special—his intellectual equal and someone who shared the vision of promoting a more fair, just and peaceful world. They were married August 29, 1948, and remained happily married for more than 66 years.
Dick began his career as a librarian at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, and then became head librarian at Western State College in Gunnison in 1961. He worked the last 17 years of his career as associate director of Libraries at Colorado State University. Dick demonstrated great dedication to his profession, his colleagues and the communities they served, and retired as a respected and valued professional in 1985.
Dick’s commitment to social justice and civil rights was unwavering. He contributed to and volunteered for many organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Rocky Flats Coalition. He also supported his local community by working on political campaigns and volunteering as a “Reading Buddy” at Putnam Elementary School.
Dick was an avid reader, an inveterate consumer of news and information and a life-long learner, attending lectures, taking Front Range Forum and Elderhostel classes, and traveling to many foreign countries. An eclectic music-lover, Dick was especially fond of jazz and was a member of the Northern Colorado Traditional Jazz Society. He and Marian were regulars at Avogadro’s jazz concerts, and particularly enjoyed listening to the Poudre River Irregulars. They were also season ticket holders to the Fort Collins Symphony, OpenStage Theatre and Bas Bleu Theatre for many years.While living in Gunnison, Dick tested out his amateur acting chops with the Webster Players and also learned to cross-country ski. He loved the outdoors; Dick and Marian hiked or skied with friends almost every weekend. He appreciated art, good food and a good joke. Dick had a great sense of humor and an infectious laugh.
Above all else, Dick’s family was his priority; he demonstrated his love for and pride in each of them. An early feminist, Dick encouraged and supported his daughters and granddaughters in all their endeavors. To Dick, “family” meant extended family, and he got tremendous pleasure from spending time with relatives; he recalled their many visits and reunions with great fondness.
Dick was truly interested in people from all walks of life and made many life-long friends. Though he had strong opinions, he was open to new ideas and listened to others’ perspectives. Dick treated everyone with dignity and respect, no matter their race, religion, or economic or social status. Many people experienced the exceptional person Dick was—a kind, vibrant, intelligent, caring and optimistic neighbor, colleague, friend and volunteer. Dick looked for the good in people; his belief in the power of people to bring about change and his activism and advocacy for a better world is his true legacy.
Dick is survived by his beloved wife Marian and his three daughters and sons-in-law: Jane Looney and Andy Looney of Fort Collins, Eve Hershcopf and Gregory Lewis of Hercules, CA, and Debra Hershcopf Kennedy and Harry Kennedy of Boulder. He is also survived by his five grand-daughters and their families: Allison (Looney) Quijano and Chris Quijano and their son Maxwell of Gilbert, AZ, Rachel Kennedy and Caitlin McShane of Boulder, Gabrielle Kennedy of San Francisco, Laura Lewis and Nina Lewis of Hercules, CA. In addition, Dick is survived by his sister and brother-in-law, Dorothy and Harry Goodman of Lincoln, MA, his sister-in-law Lee Zall of San Gabriel, CA and many nieces, grandnieces, nephews, grandnephews and cousins.
A private family celebration of Dick’s life will be held in the spring. If you would like to honor Dick’s memory, please consider giving a contribution to the ACLU Foundation of Colorado (303 E. 17th Avenue, Suite 350, Denver, CO 80203 www.aclu-co.org), Pathways Hospice (7604 Carpenter Road, Ft. Collins, CO 80525 www.pathways-care.org) or a charity of your choice.