Our Classmates

Rick Willard

Rick's senior candid photo.
Our dear classmate Rick Willard, who joined our class in sixth grade, passed away on Jul. 25, 2018 after a valiant year-long battle with melanoma cancer. He was living in Payson, AZ.
Rick was one of five Willards to graduate from ELHS, including Kris (1967), Bob (1969), Rand (1974), and Ray (1976).
An outstanding student-athlete, he was on the football, hockey, swimming, and track teams, and a member of many clubs and the student government. 
Rick graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in physics. Following his service as a Navy pilot, with over 2,000 hours of flying time, he went on to a 35-year career in aerospace vehicle design, analysis, and testing, with engineering and senior management positions at Northrop Grumman, LearFan, Avidyne, and Sign, Sound and Motion Corporations. He was the co-founder and vice-president of AeroControl Innovations, LLC.
On our Youtube channel, Rick appears in six videos, all filmed by his father: 1. Varsity/junior varsity football players, fall 1967; 2. Class of 1969 commencement (Rick serves as a marshal, leading the class in); 3. Varsity track team highlights, spring 1969 (throwing the javelin); 4. Varsity football players, fall 1969; 5. Varsity track team highlights, spring 1970; and 6. Our class commencement.
1966 freshman football team. Front row: Mr. Richard Bolles (coach), Wayne Scully, Jim Manferdini, Bill Stark, Rick Willard, Jeff Crary, Mr. Daniel Kane (coach). Row 2: Bill Creighton, Paul LaBroad, Tom Mineo, Bill Anderson, Peter Ouellette, Felix Tranghese, John Stolecki. Row 3: Bob Clark, Bob Ireland, Mark Hadeler, Mike Rafferty, Armand Gamache, Dave Gallerani, Tom Sullivan. Row 4: Rich Mondoux, Greg Naylor, Ralph Donohue, Hank Dickinson, Tom Churchill, Bob Wenning, Victor Linden, Paul Stilphen. Not pictured: Todd Cormier.
Varsity hockey team in Rick's freshman year. Front row: Rich Mondoux, Todd Cormier, Peter Benton, Dave Griffin, Bill Zuccalo, Dave Stockwell, Mr. Paul Tarsa (coach). Row 2: John Beery, Rick Willard, Bill Creighton, Bob Bradley, Jon Birtwell, Tom Mineo. Row 3: Mr. Ralph Rinaldi (assistant coach), Donald Bonner, Howie Belliveau, Russ Morton, Bob Barney, Rich D'Amato, William Bonin.
Varsity track team in Rick's freshman year. Front row: Mr. Richard Bolles (assistant coach), Kim Hagopian, Warren Kenyon, Don Kattler, Erwin Belorusky, Steve Gonyea, Albert Bailey, Ronald Laliberte, Kim O'Brien, John Lewis, Mr. Francis Dutille (coach). Row 2: Dennis Ostrander, Charles Rinaldi, Robert Barry, John Palpini, Scott Lyman, Paul LaBroad, Felix Tranghese, Bill Creighton, Rich Mondoux, Lewis Thaxton. Row 3: Bill Anderson, Brad Smith, Charlie Stellato, Bernie Sweeney, Bob Willard, John Stratos, Dave Griffin, Richard Reis, Ken Goodrich. Row 4: Bernard Pozzi, Robert Paige, Don Millett, Ken Behan, Dave Pallatino, Roger Blood, Peter Keane, Paul Seymour, John Penstock, Jim Stratos. Row 5: Steve St. Marie, Larry Cooper, Jim Manferdini, Jeff Crary, Stan Sroka, Carl Larson, Mark Lacedonia, Stephen Broderick, Frank Mitchell. Row 6: Bob Ireland, John Stokecki, David Sand, Tom Ouellette, Bruce Ostrander, Larry Bradley, Victor Linden, Peter Ouellette, Rick Willard.
Varsity and junior varsity football team in Rick's sophomore year. Front row: Mr. Robert Vespaziani (coach), Joe Marazzi, Ken Behan, Rick Willard, Rich Mondoux, Bill Zuccalo, Jerry Sawyer, Todd Cormier, Kurt Whitney, Mr. Daniel Kane (coach). Row 2: Bruce Ostrander, Bill Creighton, Felix Tranghese, Bob Fois, Roger Blood, Jim Manferdini, Wayne Scully, Paul LaBroad, Bill Snow. Row 3: Warren Kenyon, Peter Ouellette, Dave Gallerani, Tim Thompson, Tom Mineo, Greg Naylor, Donald Bonner, Bill Anderson, Peter Garafalo. Row 4: Jim Stratos, Mike Boucher, Erwin Belorusky, Howie Belliveau, Steve Gonyea, Dennis Ostrander, Jeff Crary, Mark Hadeler. Row 5: Bruce Tilden, Chris Colman, Bob Willard, Don Thompson, Mike Harton. Not pictured: Kim Hagopian.
Varsity hockey team in Rick's sophomore year. Front row: Matt D'Amato, David Griffin, Rich Mondoux, Danny Thomas, Rick Willard, Todd Cormier, David MacDonald, Jon Birtwell. Row 2: Mr. Paul Tarsa (coach), Brad Towle (manager), Bob Bradley, Bill Creighton, Russ Morton, Barry Rufenacht, Howie Belliveau, Bob Barney, Mr. William Whiles (assistant coach). Not pictured: Donald Bonner.
Varsity track team in Rick's sophomore year. Front row: Mark Lacedonia, Roger Blood, Jim Manferdini, Felix Tranghese, Tom McCabe, Rick Willard, Bill Creighton, Jeff Crary. Row 2: Paul LaBroad, Steve Gonyea, Alfred Santos, Ken Goodrich, Ernie Miner, John Lewis, John Wrinkle, Ken Behan, Tom O'Brien, Dennis Paige. Row 3: Richard Hammond, John Moore, Mark Pozzi, Bruce Ostrander, Larry Bradley, Clark Swanson, Victor LInden, Mark O'Melia, Dennis Ostrander. Row 4: Tom Thompson, Richard Dion, David Bowe, Keith David, Stan Sroka, David Pallatino, Paul Bouchie, Charlie Stellato, Bob Willard, John Ouellette. Row 5: Bob Ireland, Bruce Moore, Larry Cooper, Brian Lavertue, Bill Anderson, Erwin Belorusky, Chris Colman, Frank Mitchell. Not pictured: Coaches Mr. Frank Dutille, Mr. Ralph Rinaldi, Mr. Richard Bolles.
Varsity and junior varsity football teams in Rick's junior year. Front row: Coaches Mr. Robert Vespaziani, Mr. Daniel Kane, and Mr. Ralph Rinaldi, Jerry Sawyer, Bob Barney, Rick Willard, Todd Cormier, managers Steve Viger, Tim Lynch, and Channing Orr. Row 2: Scott Grabowski, Mark Pozzi, Peter Ouellette, Ken Behan, Tom Mineo, Bill Creighton, Wayne Scully, Rich Mondoux. Row 3: Richard Dion, Charles Maurer, Alfred Santos, Dave Gallerani, Greg Naylor, Bill Anderson, Peter Garafalo, Richard Cormier. Row 4: Allan Phillips, Tom McCabe, Felix Tranghese, Jim Manferdini, John Murphy, Jeff Boulrice, Sebastiano Siano, Mike Keane, John Wrinkle. Row 5: Howie Belliveau, John Haggerty, Bob Willard, Chris Colman, Jeff Crary, Tom Stewart, John Hire, David MacDonald.
Varsity swim team in Rick's junior year. Front row: Paul LaBroad, David Smith, Richard Seligman, Michael Creighton, J. Glenn Reardon, Thomas McLaughlin, Kenneth LaBroad, James Montana, Rene Young, Ronald Rennell, Robert Parker, Michael Boutin, Richard Taft, John Hire. Row 2: Rick Willard, Bruce Lindwall, John Dempsey, Geoffrey Weigand, John Ouellette, Robert Dunn, Dale Goddard, Keith Lindner, Chuck Taylor, David Radebaugh, Phillip Towle. Row 3: Jonas Robinson, John Haetinger, Michael O'Melia, Bill Snow, Peter Rybacki, Paul McNamara, Stan Sroka, Jim Bourque, David Owen, Keith David. Row 4: Mark Hadeler, Malcolm Butler, Richard Dion, Donald Hanson, Bob Willard, Mr. Richard Bolles (coach), Erwin Belorusky, Peter Ouellette, Robert Peirce, John Lewis, Stephen House (manager). Not pictured: Paul Oswald Mr. Ronald Sarazin (coach).
Varsity track team underclassmen in Rick's junior year. Front row: James Montana, Daniel Lawson, Michael O'Melia, Tom McDonough, Stephen Smith, Mark Pozzi, Rick Villamaino, Mark Hammond, Michael Shubert. Row 2: Steve Viger (manager), Gil Paquette, Bill Creighton, Rick Willard, Bruce Moore, Felix Tranghese, John Haetinger, Stan Sroka, Larry Bradley, Paul LaBroad, Mark McCandlish. Row 3: Larry Cooper, Peter Ouellette, Ed "Chip" McDonough, Bruce Ostrander, Jeff Crary, Carl Larson, Victor Linden, Kim O'Brien, Robert Hafey, Kevin Lightcap, Richard Dion. Not pictured: Brian Lavertue, Phillip Towle, Steven Wescott.
Article in Spartan Spirit newspaper, May 23, 1969.
Varsity football team in Rick's senior year. Front row: Coaches Mr. Edward Modzelewski and Mr. Robert Dobias, Jim Manferdini, Felix Tranghese, Jeff Crary, Mike Keane, Rick Willard, Mr. Francis Dutille (coach). Row 2: Bill Creighton, Tom Mineo, Wayne Scully, Peter Garafalo, Dennis Killoren, Donald Thomas, Michael Creighton. Row 3: Richard Cormier, Mark Pozzi, Rene Young, Todd Cormier, Kurt Whitney, David Correale, Robert Bailey. Row 4: Sebastiano Siano, Kevin Keilty, Timothy Bartlett, William Gowash, Richard Dion, William Marazzi. Row 5: Bill Stark, Gary Halon, Scott Grabowski, Allan Phillips, Craig White, Kevin Porter, Tom McCabe. Not pictured: Greg Naylor, and managers Paul Messenger and Steve Viger.
Yearbook caption: Driving fullback Rick Willard grabs a handoff from Dennis Killoren (18). Both starred in the 33-8 Trade wipe-out, Rick solid on offense, while Dennis was hot with touchdowns and extra points.
1970 varsity track team seniors. Front row: Steve Viger (manager), Peter Ouellette, Kim O'Brien, Bob Ireland, Rick Willard, Larry Bradley, Stan Sroka, Carl Larson. Row 2: Gil Paquette, Paul LaBroad, Larry Cooper, Bruce Moore, Edward "Chip" McDonough, John Haetinger, Mr. Francis Dutille (coach). Not pictured: Jim Manferdini, Felix Tranghese. 
Rick with his graduation diploma from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1974. Photo courtesy of Rand Willard.
Rick during his time in the U.S. Navy and in 1980 on the runway at Miramar Naval Air Station (NAS), San Diego, CA in his F-4 Phantom jet, alongside his brother, Bob in his F-14 Tomcat jet. Miramar NAS was the home of the U.S. Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Program, unofficially known as TOPGUN. Bob was the aerial coordinator for the movie Top Gun and also appeared in it. Photo courtesy of Rand Willard.
Rick with his wife, Lesley at our 40th class reunion in 2010.
Rick in 2016, and with his wife, Lesley in 2016.
Rick with his daughter, Courtney on Father's Day in 2018, about a month before his passing.
To see other tributes, click on the "Life Tributes" link to the left and then on the page of interest.

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08/15/18 03:46 AM #1    

Scott Moore

I feel a very large hole at Rick's passing and will sorely miss seeing him at future reunions. One of the top leaders of our class, he excelled at several sports, giving his all on the field of play, and participated in many other extracurricular activities. Following his brother, Bob to the U.S. Naval Academy, he went on to fly F-4 Phantom jets aboard naval carriers at sea. Then, it was on to a long career in engineering. We were fortunate to have the Willard family in East Longmeadow for 13 years, from 1963-1976, and to have Rick in our class for seven years. Rest in peace, dear friend.

02/29/24 02:05 PM #2    

Steve Geoffrion

I just checked in on this forum last year but kind of wish I had made the 40th reunion. I never ran into Rick while flying in the Navy. I did see his brother Bob when I was out in the Indian Ocean in 1983 I think it was , in Cubi Pt., Phillipines. Would have enjoyed talking with Rick. He had an amazing career.

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