Richard R. Rogowski, 84, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. and Bethany Beach, passed from this life Thursday, May 1, 2014, following a long illness which he fought bravely. Richard was born in Steubenville, Ohio Dec. 13, 1929, the son of Joseph Rogowski and Kazimiera Lamparski Rogowski, both Polish immigrants.
Richard spent his early years in Ohio and in Weirton, W.Va., learning the building trade from his father.
Upon his mother's death at age 13, Richard (also known as "Roger") moved to live with his Uncle Henry Lamparski's family in Natrona Heights, Pa., where he grew up, built and raced boats, became an expert water skier and worked in the steel mills near Pittsburgh, Pa.
Richard graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1952 with a bachelor of science in civil engineering. He subsequently earned a master's degree in aerospace operation management from the University of Southern California in 1970.
From 1952 through 1954, he served as a civil engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and worked at Nouasseur Air Base in Morocco. He met his sweetheart, Marie Ohayon, in Casablanca, where they married in 1955. Richard was drafted by the Army in 1954 and actively served for two years.
Richard and Marie moved to Natrona Heights in 1956, where their first child, Sandra, was born. The young family later moved to Alexandria, Va., where Eva and David were born, and he and Marie lived until 2002.
Richard seized life with a passion, and his experience and accomplishments are a testament to that. He believed and often stated that "luck is the preparation for, the recognition of, and the seizure of opportunity."
For more than 40 years, Richard served his country as a civilian in the Department of the Army, primarily at Fort Belvoir, Va., and at headquarters in Alexandria, Va. He assumed a wide variety of positions in scientific and engineering capacities, serving as director of the Countermine Laboratory, Weapons Systems Manager for Army Mobility Command, Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Development, Engineering, and Acquisition at US Materiel Command (AMC and FAST), and culminating as the senior executive service member responsible to the commanding general for analyzing, developing and integrating Army procurement initiatives for U.S. defense in excess of $5 billion annually.
In these roles, he managed a network of senior scientists and engineers throughout Europe, Panama, Hawaii, Japan and Korea, linked to more than 20 Army research laboratories and development centers. Among his many projects, he established a micro-biological and chemistry laboratory in Bermuda; he managed the construction of large refrigeration, fuel storage and electrical plant generating facilities in Morocco; he supervised the layout of radar sites in Algeria; he was project director for joint US/Israeli heavy mobile equipment development; and he planned and participated in joint U.S./Austrian mini-helicopter RPV programs in Austria.
All of Richard's work was oriented toward putting the soldier first. He was a true patriot all his life. In 2003, Richard was awarded the Firepower Award by the National Defense Industrial Association, Picatinny Chapter, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to preparedness of the Armed Forces of the United States of America.
After retiring from the Army in 1994, Richard became a consultant/advisor and later a vice president of BRTRC, Inc., where he helped coordinate efforts for the company in aerospace, ground warfare, robotics and autonomous systems.
In 2001, he left BRTRC to found NIITEK (Non-Intrusive Inspection Technology) with scientist Gunter Wichmann and designed, developed, perfected and commercialized a unique, lifesaving landmine detection device which is now used worldwide and particularly by the U.S. Army throughout the Middle East. The equipment has saved the lives of countless soldiers and civilians. In 2008, he retired again and sold the company to British defense conglomerate Chemring Group which continues to deploy the invention worldwide.
In his spare time, Richard lovingly explored his proud Polish heritage, which led him to identify numerous relatives in Poland and the U.S. whom he has visited many times over the years. He was an avid collector of model trains and shared this passion with his grandsons.
Above all, Richard deeply loved his wife, Marie, and their family. He was a dedicated father, grandfather and uncle who led his family on numerous vacations throughout Europe, sharing his passion for other cultures. He enjoyed hosting an annual reunion of his extended family in Bethany Beach, where he and his wife have maintained a home for almost 50 years. Richard was a masterful storyteller of his many life adventures, which he shared frequently and delivered with a keen sense of wit and humor. He was a man of deep religious faith.
Richard is survived by his loving wife of 58 years, Marie Ohayon Rogowski of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; two daughters, Sandra R. Lizza of Summit, N.J. and Eva K. Rogowski of DeSoto, Texas; a son, Dr. David R. Rogowski of Centreville, Va.; son-in-law, Charles M. Lizza and daughter-in-law, Mary K. Rogowski; four grandsons: David and Michael Lizza, and Joseph and Brian Rogowski; childhood "brother" Dr. Don G. Lamparski and his wife, Adele; and numerous cousins, nephews and nieces.
A Mass of Christian Burial will celebrate his life Thursday, May 8, at 11:30 a.m., at St. Ann Catholic Church, 691 Garfield Parkway, Bethany Beach, where friends may call one hour prior to services at the church. Interment with military honors will immediately follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Dagsboro.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to Covenant House New York in memory of Richard R. Rogowski. The address is Covenant House New York, Attn: Creighton Drury, 460 W. 41st Street, New York, NY 10036, or go to www.covenanthouse.org and click on "Donate" where you will be instructed how to indicate your gift in his memory.