Richard John Geer
March 6, 1931 - April 9, 2003
Richard was born in Silverton, Oregon, the second of three children, as a gift from God, to Lester and Leona Geer. Richard showed signs at a very early age of being drawn to theater productions. As his brother, I know because, through bribery, by age 6 I became one of his first students (bit parts along with a cat or the family dog.)
Richard, known as Dick in the early years, was the best brother a man could ever have. I have been so very blessed. He was a wonderful uncle for my children, who adored and • loved him. When possible, he was always part of our birthday, holiday, and vacatic celebrations. He is and will always be missed by all of us.
He and I spent many hours reliving those wonderful days growing up in the Depression years, experiencing joy and wonder, moments that money could not have bought. We were poor in money, but rich in enthusiasm to learn and move forward, produce, and always be patriotic about our country.
Richard left the university in 1952, and went to Korea, where he attained the grade of Staff Sergeant in a heavy mortar company. After Korea, he returned to Willamette University and earned a BA degree followed by studies at San Jose State toward an advanced degree in the field of drama. Richard went on to a career of teaching drama and English at Milwaukie High School. I always knew that my brother was a very good teacher and loved being able to encourage the young to be all they can be. It takes a very talented and dedicated person to teach and be heard. I stand in awe of my brother "The Professor", who stood at the head of that class.
I want to close by quoting portions of a letter I was given by one of Richard's students, of years gone by, who delivered it to me the day after a celebration we had in tribute of Richard's life.
(By request, Richard wanted no formal services after his death.)
April 26, 2003
Dear Mr. Jack Geer;
Thank you for extending me an invitation to celebrate the spirit of Richard Geer in memorial today. Today, at the time of the service, I was working with kids in Eugene and unable to attend.
When informed of Richard Geer's passing, many thoughts passed through my mind. Though the service is concluded and friends long since gone home, I thought I would put feelings to paper and share them with you:
I do not remember being a theater "jock". Perhaps, that is my first compliment to Mr. Geer's drama class, the Tournament of Plays, the Scott Griffith feature films and the musicals were just fun! Learning to surpass fear and insecurity and perform under pressure is one of life's most important lessons. But we didn't know we were "learning" at the time. We made fear disappear by drowning it out with fun. Each scene, play or project started with a diverse team of people. Mr. Geer's direction and mentorship helped us realize how to celebrate our differences in a way that made projects interesting, entertaining and successful.
Dick Geer, along with a core group of other Milwaukie Highs School teachers, shared certain qualities. They were self-assured, fall of humor and compassion, talented, modest, firm, patient, and passionate. They cared about their work. That is, they wanted to share their love of a discipline with students in a way that would shape our lives forever. And, despite our very 70's-suburban-efforts~to-self-destruct, they were successful.
Today, they have a label and medication for my high school malady. Attention deficit is real. In 1974, people's money favored art, music, and theater therapy. The "annex" team of Swan, Timothy and Geer were the ones who got kids like me out of bed each morning to come to school.
This paper may seem like it is devolving into an essay on the decay of public education. This is not the intent. Rather, it is meant as a tribute to those Me Richard Geer who put us before himself, an education era that enabled students to find a place where they could succeed, learning the lesson really needed: to believe in one's self. The work of Mr. Geer and his peers resulted in me and mine. And while only in the intermission of our life performances, we are doing ok.
We are engineers, developers, teachers, small-business owners, politicians, public-relations experts, and more.
We are parents, coaches, volunteers, advocates and mentors. Our Milwuakie lineage is strong and unique: We approach our work and play in an uncompromising way. We care about history, place and people. We aim high and do not settle for second-rate. We succeed and fail with equal poise and grace. We learn.
We take the right road, even if it is the harder one.
Regardless of our titles, rate-of-pay or notoriety, we contribute and are leaders and team players.
Our liberal arts education at the University of Milwaukie High School is what pointed us in this direction. Mr. Richard Geer was, and will remain, amoung the highest regarded on its faculty.
Warmest feeling for all Richard Geer's family and friends,
Richard A. Recker,
Milwaukie High School Thespian 1974 - 1977
My brother, Richard, will always stand ten feet tall. He was an educator and a contributor, and by best friend.
I love you, Richard - Good night for now.
Your Brother, Jack