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Obituaries

RICHARD KEITH “RICK” MORGENSTERN

Richard Keith Morgenstern passed away suddenly on Wednesday June 8th, 2022.  Rick was born on March 12, 1951 to Brinah and Stanley Morgenstern in Detroit, Michigan.  He graduated from Henry Ford High School in 1968 and the Air Force Academy in 1972.

After graduating, Rick served in the United States Air Force excelling as a flight instructor at Lackland Air Force Based in San Antonio, Texas. Upon leaving the Air Force in 1976, he was a pilot for Braniff International in Dallas, TX. During his time in Dallas he met his wife Mary one fateful night at the local TGI Friday’s after overhearing that she was also from the Detroit area.  They got married on September 1, 1979. They went on to have 3 children, Richard Jr, Michael & Jennifer, and six grandchildren, who were the light of his life.  He loved being a grandfather.

Rick had a lifelong passion of flying and all things airplane related.  His aviation career spanned 50 years.  He flew everything from private jets to large international jets like the DC-10. He literally flew the globe many times over from Reykjavik, Iceland to Honolulu, Hawaii, to Australia, Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.  He brought home many gifts including chocolates from Belgium, wooden shoes from the Netherlands, a stuffed kangaroo from Australia, and gorgeous jewelry for Mary.

He loved to play golf, often stopping after four holes so that he could say he finished one under par.  He was an avid fan of the cinema, frequently communicating with his family solely using movie quotes.  Rick’s uniform at home and work was a pair of khaki’s with a golf shirt, which is how he’ll always be remembered.

Whenever he was with his fellow pilots or family, he loved exchanging stories. He nailed most of his landings, and bounced a few, but his most famous landing occurred during Operation Desert Shield. As the story goes, while flying troops from Frankfort to Saudi Arabia, Strategic Air Command diverted him to the United Arab Emirates.  Once conditions moved from red to amber, Rick was first in line for takeoff.  As he was flying over the desert, with no runway in sight, he could see the scuds and patriots going back and forth in the distance, with each explosion shaking the plane.  As he lines up for final approach into Dhahran, the missiles stop, the runway lights pop on painting the desert sky yellow, and from a hotel rooftop a CNN camera pans over to film Rick performing what some have described as the smoothest landing ever made by an Emery Worldwide DC-8, safely delivering our troops.

Blue skies and tailwinds.

Please join us in celebrating the life of Richard on Tuesday, June 14 at Gamble Funeral Service at 410 Stephenson Avenue. The viewing will be from 5-7pm followed by a service at 7:00pm.

You are invited to attend the funeral service via Zoom by clicking here. 

Meeting ID: 891 9862 8769
Passcode: 857069

Online Condolences

  1. Noam Morgenstern says:

    I am at a complete loss for words. Visiting all of you was always the highlight of my trips as a kid… Rick was always my role model and inspiration, I miss him dearly.

  2. Sue Gilbert says:

    My cousin, Rick, had a smile that brought us all together. I’m still in shock that that smile has left this world. No one dies who lives within a heart. Rick will live forever in the hearts of those who loved him.

  3. Thomas Schenk says:

    I am USAFA classmate of Rick’s. Haven’t seen him since those days. But our common heritage binds us together for life. So sorry for your loss. Praying for Mary and the entire family for God’s peace and comfort to envelope you.

  4. Felipe Garcez says:

    I’m heartbroken to hear the news. Rick was more than a trusted business partner but a dear friend. His energy and enthusiasm were second to none and I will dearly carry the memories that we have shared together. My prayers to the Morgenstern family, may you find comfort and strength, God bless.

  5. Roesney Santos says:

    We, at Embraer, are shocked with such a sudden loss.
    Rick was more than just a client. He was a true partner, a good friend and his passion for making the difference was his trademark.
    He made a lot of good friends at Embraer and he will live forever in our memories.
    On behalf of the entire Embraer family, we are deeply sorry for the loss and praying for his family.

  6. Tom Carter says:

    Rick was a good friend and fellow instructor. He was one we could always go to with any questions. He will be missed by us all. We will keep you all in our prayers.

  7. Mike G says:

    I, like many young aviators, consider Rick to be one of my most influential mentors. He shaped my career. I’m heartbroken to hear of his passing, and I wish the best for you and your family. Fair skies and tailwinds, brother.

  8. Marcelo Teles says:

    Rick will always be remembered as a great instructor, great person, sharing technical info with pleasure and happiness.
    My deep regrets for his Family.

  9. Ellen Dolinar says:

    We can all only hope we have touched people’s lives in such a positive way as Rick did. His depth of knowledge and laugh will be remembered by many.

    My prayers are with his wife, Mary, children and grandchildren during this difficult time as they navigate the loss of their loved one.

  10. Phil Webb says:

    I was sorry to learn that Rick passed away. I had not seen him in many years. We were classmates in ‘72 at USAFA, squadron mates in CS-22, and I enjoyed rooming with him for a semester during that time. He was a wonderful person and I’m sure served our country well. God bless.

  11. Roger Emerick says:

    I’m a ’72 USAFA classmate of Rick. A very nice person; I remember him well. My condolences. Roger

  12. Grover C Freckleton says:

    Rick was an officer and gentleman for sure. I remember him well from the time we spent at USAFA in CS-22. He was an outstanding athlete during intramurals, especially squash. He will be remembered always. I have been lucky to have known him.

  13. Mark Curnow Jr says:

    Rick was a great man with a wealth of knowledge, life experience and the willingness to provide guidance. He will be missed!

  14. JC Hall says:

    One of my best friends in life! I remember delaying our wedding waiting for Rick to get back from a Las Vegas junket after graduation. Only Rick could have suggested that I become the token Gentile in the Jewish Student Union — so I could enjoy the catered Jewish delicacies! Rick always had a low tolerance for stupidity and a creative way of expressing it. “Lord Guard and guide the men who fly.” Stay aloft, buddy!

  15. Pam and Joe Meggyesy says:

    Please accept our sincere condolences for an amazing man. It is never easy to lose a loved one, but especially one who made such an impact on those around him. May the many happy memories sustain you and your family through this difficult time and the years to come. Then he will always be with you.

  16. Luiz Salgado says:

    I had the privilege of having Rick as my instructor. One of the best by far!
    His passion, enthusiasm and his smile spread wherever he goes.
    He was part of the Embraer Family, and we are grateful for that.
    Rest in peace my friend and sincere condolences to the family.

  17. Jim Smail says:

    I am a ’72 USAFA classmate of Rick’s. We were in different squadrons, but often crossed paths in the halls and terrazzo. He always seemed to have a smile on his face. My condolences. Jim

  18. Greg Straessle says:

    Rick will always be remembered as a consummate professional and wonderful human being. I had the pleasure of teaching 737 type ratings with him during an interlude between airlines. We kept in touch with occasional emails over the years. What a loss but what excellent memories.
    Eternal Father keep you in the palms of his hands.
    Greg Straessle
    Navy ‘73

  19. Pete Keys says:

    A good man, who made a positive contribution to the aviation community. I enjoyed working with him. Will certainly be missed.

  20. Alicia Probasco says:

    I had the great pleasure of a few memorable conversation with Rick when he was with Shuttle America, learning that in the USAF he had flown with friends of my father in the 1970’s. I remember as if it was yesterday, and that may have been the only time we spoke, actually.

    Your father was kind to a nervous woman in a new job and for that, I remain grateful. Your family will be in my prayers.

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